Sure your home was inspected before you moved in. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re good to go—we wish it did! And ignoring the little buggers can be a costly mistake. After all, termites cause more damage to homes than fires, earthquakes or tornadoes combined. That’s a whole lot of damage. And it can all be prevented, according to Robert McElwain the regional manager for American Pest Management Kansas City.
Here are McElwain’s top five tips for a termite-free house—and life.
1. Look for the signs. You should always keep one eye open for possible signs of termites. This includes clues like mud tunnels, blemishes to sheet rock and hollowed wood. However, McElwain says you should think twice before buying the latest over-the-counter termite-destroying products.
“Termite control is not something that should be handled by a homeowner,” McElwain says. “Having a house inspected specifically for termites by a professional that can point out problem areas will help you in the long run as well as reduce the amount of money you have to spend in repairs.”
2. Commit to yearly check-ups. McElwain says the biggest problem when it comes to termites isn’t necessarily structural property damage. It’s the fact that most people don’t set up termite checks on a preventative basis. He says they typically wait until they see damage or buyers are conducting a termite assessment as a request of the lender.
“The way I look at it, it’s kind of like having your furnace or air conditioning service examined. Typically, you do this twice a year to make sure everything is running properly,” McElwain says.
3. Warm up to the warranty. Once that one-year warranty expires, McElwain strongly suggests you renew it ASAP. That way if any termites come crawling back, you’re covered.
“If you’re paying that warranty, you’re saving yourself from paying thousands of dollars and big lump sums in the long run,” McElwain says.
He says the cost of treatment can range from $500-$2,000, while termite warranties typically cost $70-$250 per year. This means the earlier termite professionals spot the damage, the better it is for your house—and pocketbook.
4. Make sure your landscaping is lovely.
Does your backyard look like something out of Jurassic Park? McElwain says that’s going to be an issue.
“I just inspected a house and all trees and plants were planted too close to the house,” McElwain says. “Now they’re growing up all around the house.”
Overgrown plants, shrubs and trees are basically like setting up a bed and breakfast for termites, so try not to slack on the outdoor maintenance of your home.
5. Keep moisture from seeping in. Unless you’d like your termite lodging to include multiple hot tubs, McElwain suggests drying up the moisture issues around your home. Yes, this means you have to regularly clean your gutters and take a closer look at your sprinkler systems and hoses.
McElwain, of course, will check out all of these potential problems in his complimentary pest audit. Visit the American Pest Management Inc. website to learn more and stay tuned for tips on keeping mice and other pests out of your home this winter.