Termite Damage Lurks Behind Home’s Wallpaper for Years

A couple living in a 20-year-old home had an unwelcome surprise two years after they bought it. When they pulled down some wallpaper in the kitchen, they discovered obvious tunneling activity by termites. Pulling down the sheetrock revealed damage to a board above a doorway.

When they bought the home, a home inspection and wood-destroying insect report said the home did not have an active infestation or damage from a previous infestation.

Replacing that damaged board didn’t settle their concerns. They described a cracked floor joist in the same area. And many floor joists had streaky-looking weakened places.

They did not spot an active infestation, however.

Their questions for an inspector from Champia Real Estate Inspections included:

  • Do we have any recourse from the inspector or termite company for help with repairs?
  • What type of professional do we need?
  • What are signs of serious structural damage?
  • Do termite bait systems work?

With a baby in the house, the couple didn’t want insecticide treatments.

While questions about recourse might better require legal assistance, it will depend on what was visible during the inspection by the home inspector or termite inspector. The homeowner’s description shows the termite damage infestation remained hidden until the wallpaper was removed. It’s common for them to hide behind wallcoverings and eat the gypsum board’s covering.

Wood Destroying Organism Inspection Report details visible and accessible evidence of an infestation or damage by wood-destroying organisms. That’s usually termites, but wood destroying beetles and fungi may be the cause.

Damage Guidelines

If the framing lumber suffered damage to a significant part of it – more than ¼ inch – get it checked by a qualified home inspector or contractor. The board replacement might be enough if damages were limited to wood trim.

Any homeowner should keep their home under bond by a licensed pest control company.

Termite bait systems can help detect and avoid termite damage and infestations.

Our inspectors recommend that these homeowners get their floor framing evaluated by a qualified home inspector. If the home inspector finds a serious problem, a structural engineer might be the next call. In this case, some recourse with the previous home inspector may be appropriate.

When the weather warms, the termites will swarm. Make sure you get your home inspected for termites or other pests.

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