Subterranean Termite Pre-Treatments

September 8, 2014

Subterranean Termites Destroying Wood

When laying down a foundation for a new home or structure, termites are always an issue. It's always best to perform a pre-treatment before the project is fully under way. There are several layers or steps involved in the process as well as two types of subterranean termite pre-treatment that we will be looking at today.

Initially, it is better to treat the soil under where a structure is to be built in order to prevent as much of an infestation as possible. A chemical barrier is formed within the soil to deter pests early. Typically this is done by a professional, as the equipment needed tends to be rather heavy-duty (Up to 100-gallon tanks, roller pumps, treating tools, etc.). Homeowners are normally not suggested to attempt the treatment themselves. You should always make the professional performing the pre-treatment is properly licensed.

This is a process performed shortly into the construction of the structure, after foundation walls and/or pillars have been constructed and footings have been poured. Typically, the treatment consists of trenching or trenching and rodding around the foundation elements. Termiticide is applied depending on the footings. If they are shallow, the soil is trenched, treated and then replaced into the trench. Exposed footings require treatment is performed next to, but not below. For deep footings (think basements), treatment is applied as the backfill is put around the foundation. The termiticide must be applied in all possible foundational locations including chimney bases and around pillars. Special care must be taken around drain tile, French drains and other drainage systems in order to not introduce the treatment into the drainage system. The termiticide is to be mixed with water as per label instructions and applied pursuant to the label.  

When concrete rests on soil, it can crack and provide termites another entry point for infesting the wood above. Outlets and construction joints tend to be another entry point. Before pouring the concrete slabs but after sub-slab fill material is added, a horizontal barrier is created by treating the immediate area, including the soil underneath.

If concrete slabs are poured without the treatment, a sub-slab release form may be required to inform the property owner of property areas that were not treated for the prevention of termites.

Baits are also used during the pre-treatment process for termite control. This is a system that is usually installed post final grade/landscaping. Baits don't produce a barrier of protection, but act by removing a portion of a colony's size. Baits work by using poisons or growth regulators and can reduce a colony's threat enough to potentially eliminate the need to use liquid termiticides and pesticides.

Baits are set up as monitoring devices with typical termite food (wood, paper or any other cellulose bi-product) set up around the perimeter of the structure needing protection. After termites have been confirmed, the clean product is replaced with the bait, a specially treated material. As long as there are termites feeding, the bait will need to be replaced regularly. When termites stop feeding, it is replaced with non-treated cellulose materials. In order for these devices to work, an adequate number of stations must be placed around the structure. These devices can also come pre-baited if termites have already been confirmed.

The pros and cons of using either method of termite control depend on the necessity of the structure. If liquid termiticide is not able to be used, bait is always the way to go. The downside is the bait is not usually a fast acting solution to the problem. Bait systems also tend to be more expensive due to the frequency of service necessity.

One final form of pre-treatment is prevention. This method is clean, easy and effective at helping to deter the infestation of pests.

Removing all unnecessary wood and cellulose materials, such as stumps and roots, before construction begins is a good idea. During construction, the woodwork should always be a minimum of 6 inches above ground, never making contact with the soil or filling material. The beams in the crawl space should always be at least 18 inches above ground to facilitate future inspections. Ventilation openings should prevent dead air pockets by design; dry ground is unfavorable to termites.

When construction is finished, always make sure all boards and grade stakes have been removed. Any fences or other forms of wood contacting the soil should be made of pressurized wood so as not to cause an attraction. Inspecting the foundation for discarded wings or adult termites annually should be conducted.

For all of your termite problems and termite pretreatments for new and existing homes, buildings, detached garages, commercial slabs and structures, Alliance Pest Services is your local termite pest control expert.    

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