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Rot, mold, or insect damage in buildings:
How do we distinguish among these types of infestation & damage on or in buildings? How do we distinguish between carpenter ants and termites, how do we identify carpenter ant damage, carpenter bee damage, powder post beetle or old house borer damage and termite damage.
What building construction details increase the risk of insect damage, and how do we evaluate the extent of structural impact of existing insect damage on a building. Preventing damage by wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles) by good design and by building maintenance is preferred to simple chemical
applications around a property. When use of pesticides is required, there are some important choices.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Guide to Spotting, Evaluating, Repairing & Preventing Structural Damage from Insects
This page is the top level of our complete guide to insect problems found on or in buildings.
Here we outline major topics of concern regarding insect infestation or insect damage and we link to more in-depth diagnosis and repair information.
DISTINGUISH TYPES of INSECT DAMAGEHow do We Determine the Difference Between Carpenter Ant Damage, Carpenter Bee Damage, Powder Post Beetle Damage & Termite Damage in Buildings? - comparison photos & text
How do I Tell a Carpenter Ant from a Termite from a Carpenter Bee from a Powder Post Beetle?
If we do see insects in or on the building, it's pretty easy to tell CARPENTER ANTS (stomping around boldly in view, often near water or a sink or tub drain indoors) from a TERMITES (rarely in view unless swarming, but may fall out of a disturbed mud tube).
If you want a single rule, ants have a segmented body with a very very narrow waist (below left) while termites look more wormlike in their body (below right).
CARPENTER BEES look like a big slow-moving non-aggressive bumble bee. A female carpenter bee is shown in our third photograph.
You won't normally be able to seePOWDER POST BEETLES (but they're not bad looking) you'll just see their dust and damage.
Below from the left we illustrate carpenter ants, including swarming winged carpenter ants, a termite (sketch) and a carpenter bee.
How To Distinguish Among Damage from Wood Destroying Insects, Mold, or Rot on or in Buildings?
The first course in recognition of types of insect activity in or on a building is often the observation of the actual damage to wood materials in the structures. That's because depending on the type of insect, season, temperature, and other conditions we won't always see the wood destroying insects themselves.
Insect Damage Photos
At below left you can see typical powder post beetle or old house borer damage to a wood joist or beam. At below right you may notice the characteristic mud tubes we associate with termite damage.
Below our photos illustrate typical carpenter ant damage (below left) and termite damage (below right).
All wood rot is caused by wood decaying fungi, typically basidiomycetes, some assisted by certain bacteria.
Watch out: you may find wood rot and insect damage together in a structure. But they are visually distinct.
Photos Assist in Telling the Difference Between Insect Damage & Wood Rot
Wood rot (below left) tends to show breaks in the wood grain across the grain and in more or less rectangular forms.
Insect damage involves holes penetrating the wood and removal of the softer summer wood, tending to leave latewood or winter-wood behind to form walls and galleys (below right where my pen points to remaining hardwood).
Watch out: because moisture is involved in most wood destroying insect infestations (excepting drywood termites), you may find multiple sources of wood damage all together: wood rot along with termite or carpenter ant damage. (Carpenter bees prefer more dry wood and burrow right through both winter and summer wood in a board).
Question: can you tell from these photographs if this is mold or "dry rot"? Our surveyor says the beam needs to be replaced.
I have found your website most useful, and am emailing to ask your opinion (just from photos as am in the UK) with regards to suspect material on a timber beam. I appreciate you charge for consultations and I am happy to make a donation to your website if helpful.
I like in a top floor apartment in an 1850s terrace brick property in London. We had a leak in the Spring in the roof which damaged the front wall.
There are some exposed beams (although covered in plaster), part of the plaster was damaged exposing the beams and I partially painted the gap 3 months ago, a few days ago I noticed odd black stains with black looking hairs sticking out of it (see photos).
For photos on your website it looks like brown mold (but more black in colour), our surveyor is assuming it is dry rot and the beam needs to be replaced.
While it is hard for you to judge from photos, in your personal opinion what do think it is?
Thanks so much for your help - J.G. 1/4/2014, London
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone.
For example, to assess the scope of damage in the building you are describing one would want to trace the location(s) and extent of leaks and to perform appropriate probing tests (STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING) to assess the depth & extent of actual structural damage to the beams involved.
From your photograph there is no doubt that there has been protracted leakage as the fungal growth that I see involve mycelia or "root-hair" -like structures characteristic of wood destroying fungi on wet wood.
While mold growth can appear quite rapidly, when I see extended mycelial growth along with cracked wood characteristic of brown rot fungi it is reasonable to infer that the leakage in that area has been going on for some time.
At above left we see fungal mycelia on what looks like the back-side of a fragment of drywall.
At above right we see the same mycelia on the side of what is probably a wood beam - indicated in your first photo above.
We also see "cracking" in the wood characteristic of wood rot, typically caused by a wood-rotting fungus in the Basidiomycete family but possibly involving other fungal genera/species such as Stemonitis sp. that I often find in buildings.
I'd need to see the fungus under the microscope to identify it - a step that is not necessary to decide on the need for structural repair except where MERULIPORIA FUNGUS DAMAGE is involved. As that fungus is a characteristic yellow-gold, I don't see evidence of it in your photographs.
"Dry rot" does not really mean that rot occurred with no moisture present, so use of the term can be misleading.
What we cannot assess from your photographs is the depth and extent of rot and thus the actual need for replacement of the structural members. Especially in older buildings where the depth of rot into large structural members is shallow, for example an inch or less in a 8x12 beam, generally experts will fix the leak and leave the beam in service.
Depending on the structure type, and with the caveat that I am not a structural engineer nor do I have the benefit of onsite view and exploration of your particular building, I caution that there can be special cases where structural repair could be more urgent.
For example, if the ends of wood beams set into a masonry structural wall are deteriorated, and particularly where angular fire cuts were made in the wood beam ends, should the beam end become rot deteriorated there could be a risk of structural collapse.
In sum, from the very limited visual access seen just in your photos, but noting the apparent age of leakage and evidence of wood rot, a more thorough investigation is needed to determine if structural repair is needed at all (other than leak repairs), and attention needs to be given to the collapse risk points and structural connections in the building.
Beware of the "OPM" problem - a consultant who spends other people's money to reduce his or her own risk beyond that justified by the actual site conditions.
Beware of the opposite concern - a consultant whose work is superficial and inadequate and who fails to adequately identify and assess actual risk of serious structural damage or hazards.
Many thanks for your detailed and quick reply, it is immensely helpful and really appreciated.
We have our original structural surveyor (from when we bought the property) returning next week but I note your comments re OPM...
as his instinctive reaction from just looking at the photo was that it needs replacing with a steel beam. We will get some more expert assessments on site so we can have a full view of what to do.
I will keep you informed of our progress, - J.G. 1/4/2014
The case you have described, of water intrusion detected at one end of a large wood timber in an older London home, is perhaps a perfect test case for Probett's approach to wood timber strength assessment described in the citation I include below
Before tearing out an existing structural wood beam for replacement with a steel I-beam as your surveyor (in my opinion a bit too glibly) recommended, it would make sense to explore further the condition of the beam and its connections.
As my earlier email explained, in a large wood timber, a modest depth of surface rot damage may not be at all enough to merit timber replacement.
As Mr. Probett's equipment and a knowledgable user are probably not available in London, you may be reduced to a more traditional but still reasonable timber assessment approach that includes
- removal of enough finish materials to form a confident opinion of the location(s) and extent(s) of and history of leakage that affected the beam in question .
- a visual inspection to find water or rot damaged wood
- mechanical probing to explore the depth of that damage
- a thoughtful assessment of extent of timber damage and thus compromise of its strength compared with the design loads involved
- careful attention in particular to points of connection, as for example in the case you have provided, the detected leak is at one end of a large beam; even if the overall beam is un-damaged, a failure at the connection point could be catastrophic.
- an interior inspection of the building finished-surfaces for evidence of leakage or movement (stains, cracked, dislocated drywall or plaster, wall-floor separation, etc)
- an exterior inspection of the building to identify its leak points and leak history, with an eye to identifying other areas where there may be un-discovered leakage, rot, and structural damage that need to be investigated.
My concern in writing this follow-up note is to be sure to point out that on a building built in the 1850's there will certainly have been leaks through its lifetime; depending on leak location, duration, severity, building materials, inteiror finishing, building occupancy, building maintenance level and similar variables, such leaks can go un-recognized for a long time, possibly allowing damage to be significant. On the other hand, and where my comments began, superficial damage is likely not to justify costly repairs.
Because this case is a fit application for methods he is developing, I have referred Paul Probett to our public discussion at https://InspectAPedia.com/structure/Structural_Damage_Probing.php
If you agree I'd like to also send him a copy of our correspondence. See
Daniel this is incredibly helpful, it is really good to get an understanding of all the various things to consider and from an unbiased source, it seems clear that each situation is different to the last and there is no 'boiler plate' solution that should be instantly applied.
While I have no expert knowledge of any of this, my instinct was that every scenario should be considered before the most invasive option of a steel beam, particularly from the structural reason that we are in an old property which has a tendency to move or expand a bit (unfortunately a curse of Islington in London all being built on clay) and hence the sheer weight of a steel beam might present its own problems on a house designed for timber and bricks, however as you rightly mentioned - surveyors, in the uk at least, want to present the best option to cover their personal liability regardless of cost
I certainly come with the view that whatever is necessary should be done (as the consequences of not doing so could be fatal) but the right solution should be found
Please feel free to pass on our correspondence to Mr Probett
- J.G. 1/5/2014
Difference Between Carpenter Ant Damage, Carpenter Bee Damage, Powder Post Beetle Damage & Termite Damage in Buildings?
For this discussion please also review the example photographs we provide above showing all of these insect types and what their damaged wood looks like.
Also see the individual articles for each insect or topic. Carpenter ants, carpenter bees, termites, even powder post beetles or old house borers all provide visible indications of insect activity such as entry or exit holes, mud tubes, or the presence of the insects themselves.
Carpenter ant damaged wood will show cleanly excavated wood passages - the frass is brought outside of the area of excavation. And seasonally you'll find carpenter ants or carpenter ant bodies.
Termite damaged wood typically will include the presence of visible mud tubes and mud-like substance inside the excavated wood galleys.
Because termites need to protect themselves from drying out and light they are not found on the exterior of wood under termite attack.
It's rare to see an active termite unless you disturb (break apart) a mud tube while it's in use - in that case you'll see pale termites fall out. You will see termites if they are swarming however. (Watch out for "winged ants" that are not).
Wood rot itself does not produce insect entry/exit holes nor mud tubes, but of course both wood rot and insect damage are often found together and may even be found within the same wood member or board.
Mold is a very broad kingdom of fungi, among which some molds, particularly the basidiomycetes are wood rotters.
So not all mold causes wood rot, but basically all wood rot in homes is thanks to one or more mold genera/species. (With some help from bacteria).
Watch out: conditions that encourage mold growth in buildings, particularly chronic leaks or water entry, are an invitation to wood destroying insects as well.
How to Distinguish Dog Chewing or Biting Damage from Insect Damage to Wood
Question: what caused this damage to wood in my home? Insects?
I am trying to figure out what caused the damage in the attached photographs.
Location is Columbia County, NY. There is no visible sawdust or debris, and I have not seen any insects. Any help would be appreciated. - Anonymous by private email 2018/10/17
Reply: bad dog! chewed wood trim
Having seen damage done by nervous or irritated dogs who attack building components, trim, even drywall indoors and, of course, furniture, my bet is that a dog is or was at your property.
Reasons that this is animal damage not insect damage.
There is no sawdust or frass
Some of the bites or gouges continue as a scrape across the wood surface
The edge of the wood trim has been riipped away showing torn wood grains - this is not characteristic of insect attack.
The gouges into the wood are shaped as if penetrated by a roughly V-shaped or spike-shaped (sharp) tooth rather than coming from tunneling or wood-destroying insects. You will see other photos of typical insect damage of all sorts in this article series.
Other examples of animal biting, chewing, or digging that causes damage at properties as well as animal allergens, urine reoval, and odors are discussed at
How to Recognize Carpenter Ants or Termites or Both in a Window Frame
Question: Can you
tell me what this damage to my house was caused by?
tell me what this damage to my house was caused by? No insects visible and I have not found any similar damage elsewhere on the exterior of the house.
The moisture is from spraying dilute fipronil, there is no direct exposure to rain. Thanks for any help.
- J.H., Athens GA, USA 12 Sept 2015
[Click to enlarge any image]
That looks like termite mud tubes to me; It's unusual to find termite damage in a movable window sash - I would be very careful to have a very thorough pest inspection: I suspect that if there is wood destroying insect damage in a window sash it is also more extensive in other structural features such as wall framing.
Dig out some of the "sawdust" shown in the lower part of your photo. If it's muddy and granular that suggests a termite mud tube. If the "sawdust" is carpenter ant frass it will be light, loose, fluffy material.
Thank you for your help Daniel! I will probably get a professional inspection. Actually it is a fixed window not a movable sash.
Keep me posted on what your'e told, JH
If there is access to the house from below look in that area for more mud tubes and thus termites.
For examples of both of these insects and their damage, sawdust or frass, detection, damage inspection, treatment or control.
It looks like these may be carpenter ants rather than termites... I dug into the wood a bit and pulled out some dead 'animals'... this photo
This photo may show a couple of different individuals, but you can see identifying characteristics of carpenter ants, ... They also appear to be have been active near my roof skylight which has (or had) a slight leak and from which I have sometimes seen sawdust drifting down.
Apparently they are not as destructive as termites. I have some Fipronil which I bought to treat dog for fleas, but is sold for termite control. I will probably spray some cautiously to discourage these beasts. Feel free to use my photos or info on your website.
Yes your photo shows carpenter ants, but I thought I saw what might be mud tubes in the bottom of your window frame damage photo. If so there were termites.
Both of these insects can do tremendous damage to wood structures if left unattended. A layperson's description of a difference between carpenter ants and termites (among many) is that
Carpenter ants chew holes following the softwood in the wood they invade but they carry the sawdust to an exit point and toss it away; you'll often see piles of sawdust (light colored if recent) below an area of carpenter ant infestation.
Carpenter ants are big brazen fellows, they look like (and are) big black ants and you'll find them stomping around when weather and temperature conditions are favorable (to them).
Termites also chew passages along the softwood in the wood that they invade, but they don't toss their chewed sawdust outside. Rather they use it, along with termite-spit to produce mud-tubes that run either inside or outside of the surfaces of the wood or other structure that they are invading.
Termites are shy pale little devils that you will never see unless you break open one of their mud tubes while they are therein.
In old wood damage we sometimes find both insects have attacked the wood.
DIY Treatment for Carpenter Ants or Termites using Fipronil and Pet Fea Powder
About using Fipronil to treat your carpenter ants or termites or both,
Fipronil is a broad use insecticide that belongs to the phenylpyrazole
chemical family. Fipronil is used to control ants, beetles, cockroaches,
fleas, ticks, termites, mole crickets, thrips, rootworms, weevils, and other
Fipronil is used in a wide variety of pesticide products, including granular
products for grass, gel baits, spot-on pet care products, liquid termite
control products, and products for agriculture.
There are more than 50
registered products that contain fipronil. - NPIC, retrieved 26 Sept 2015 original source: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/fipronil.pdf
Watch out: sprinkling a pet flea powder, even though it contains fipronil, may not be effective for treating termites as in a pet use formulation it's in a vehicle and at a concentration intended for safe use on animals.
More, you may fail to find the total extent of insect damage and/or may miss the proper locations of application. Also you're skipping treating the cause: leaks or moisture, that invited insects into the structure in the first place.
If you are confident that the total area of infestation is trivial you can try an insecticide combined with steps to stop the water problem; but watch out for the possibility of more extensive hidden damage. When I find termites or carpenter ants in a window sash I figure that there's a good chance their activitiy was much more widespread in the structure.
See AMATEUR TERMITE TREATMENT WARNINGS
How do We Evaluate the Extent of Insect or Rot Damage on or in Wood Structures? Structural Damage Assessment Procedure
For a thorough evaluation of the extent of structural damage to a building we should take the following steps:
Inspect the entire structure, outside and inside, to identify both visual evidence of leaks or damage and to recognize construction details (wood in soil contact for example) and site details (surface drainage towards the building, drip lines under gutters for example) that indicate points of extra risk of building leaks or damage even where no external damage is visible.
Wood probing, test cuts, invasive demolition: for each of those risk points where damage was not immediately visible, based on building history, all site observations, experience, decide where further more invasive inspection or "test cuts" are justified.
Typically we investigate further by making one or more test cuts or openings (or removing trim or siding etc. if necessary) at the greatest risk point first. If no damage is found, the level of concern (our FEAR-O-METER) drops and we may not cut or dig further.
Probe accessible wood components in areas of risk including sample probing along sills, rim joists, joists, even rafters starting again where there is visible damage or activity, to determine the extent of apparent damage. Keep in mind that should structural repairs be needed, additional evidence is likely to be found during demolition.
For a step beyond visual inspection, and a necessary one to detect some types of insect damage that is not visible on wood surface see STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
For an engineering and expert approach to structural assessment of wood timbers see our article by Paul Probett et als  on micro drilling at ROT, TIMBER ASSESSMENT
Extra demolition: where wood destroying fungi are at work, such as "Poria the house eating fungus" it may be appropriate to remove wood components for some safe distance past all visible damage or activity.
See MERULIPORIA MOLD PHOTOS for details. Our photo (above left) shows some rhizomorphs suspended below wood flooring in an area where I suspected more Meruliporia incrassata fruiting body material and fungal contamination in a home.
5 Basic Steps in Repair of Damage by Wood Destroying Insects
The general approach to repairing damage from wood destroying insects involves these steps:
Find and fix the cause of insect infestation, typically an building leak of some kind
Identify the areas of insect infestation and the extent of damage, using a combination of visual inspection, probing, and where appropriate, demolition.
Repair or replaced damaged structural and finish components as needed. During repairs, where feasible, amend the structure or design to reduce the risk of insect attack by reducing the risk of leaks, moisture traps, or wood materials close to the ground surface.
If appropriate (see below), choose and implement an insect damage prevention strategy such as termite shield, chemical barrier, use of insect resistant materials, etc.
Reinspect periodically to assure that there is no renewed wood-destroying insect activity
The Point of View of the Termite Inspector May Affect the Strategy as Well as The Cost to Cure an Active Insect Problem
Watch out: Many of the large number of expert sources available on the detection and prevention of building damage from wood destroying insects (see References, related articles) have been written from the viewpoint of academics or by pest control and related industry associations.
These experts offer valuable information about insect pests, often from the pest control operator's viewpoint.
Our own point of view is that of very experienced building inspectors, diagnosticians, and repair contractors.
Taking this more broad view of the topic adds two benefits: an improved ability to detect insect infestation by knowing where to look (as do experienced pest inspectors) and additional options that may reduce the ultimate cost of building insect damage repair or insect damage prevention.
Example of WDI Inspection Report Concluding Treatment of Active Infestation was Not Feasible
During a building inspection for a home buyer in Hyde Park, NY the pest control inspector (from a local pest control operator or PCO) observed termite infestation in the first floor structure of a home. He also observed that a private water well was located just a few feet from the foundation wall. This pest control operator issued a "WDI Termite Report" report that concluded:
Active termite infestation, house cannot be treated.
Needless to say, the home seller, buyer, realtor, were all quite upset with this result. What was less obvious was the thinking of the PCO which went as follows:
I see active termites and a well close to the foundation and also some dirt crawl spaces in the home. That means we cannot treat the home by conventional means (which for this PCO meant applying termiticide in the soils around the home). I think they'd have to move the well - something that is very expensive, probably cost prohibitive.
And even then, I'd have to trench around the house and remove treat and return soil, as I can't just pump into the ground where there is a dirt crawl space. The whole job, moving the well and soil trench treatment would be tens of thousands of dollars and I think it would just be too expensive for the value of the home.
In other words, as the adage [with some rewording] goes:
To a pest control company every termite problem needs to be solved by using pest control methods.
But wait! Let's go back to the original adage:
To a carpenter every problem looks like a nail.
I [DF] was asked for a "second opinion" about the un-solvable termite problem at this Hyde Park home. I am no smarter than the PCO inspector, and I saw the same things he did.
But I also noticed and confirmed by some probing and poking into the area of damage that the actual termite infestation had entered up one narrow area of the foundation wall and entered the wood floor structure beneath a leaky toilet in a first floor bathroom. The entire area of infestation was less than ten square feet of material. That suggested an alternative five-step solution to the active termite problem, a "carpentry approach" and perhaps for that reason, one that the PCO had not considered.
5-Step Termite Damage Repairs Without Requirement for Chemical Treatment
The building owner hired a contractor who cured the termite infestation by the following steps:
Fix the plumbing leak that had invited termites into the floor structure
Demolish and remove all of the termite-infested wood, e.g. flooring, consisting of a few feet of sill, subflooring, finish flooring, and one floor joist.
Re-build the damaged area using pressure-treated lumber for sill and joist repairs and conventional materials for the remaining repair
Completely clean all debris, sawdust, mud-tubes, etc.
Provide a document of all repairs made
Following these repairs the building owner hired the same PCO to perform a follow-up inspection. All of the investigation, repair, and PCO report documentation was provided to the home buyer and buyer's lender. The result was a "clear" or no infestation found report, permitting the home sale to proceed.
Nine Approaches to Prevention of Wood Destroying Insect Damage
Architectural design to resist wood destroying insect attack: the best wood destroying insect resistant-building design is to
keep wood and other insect-friendly materials at least 8" above ground (some areas permit 6"), provide no protected path for insect entry into the structure (such as behind solid insulation boards)
Building maintenance: keep surface water and roof spillage away from the building perimeter. Do not pile up leaves, organic debris, wood piles, or mulch against building walls. Hire a professional to inspect the building, especially at high-risk points.
BAIT TRAPS for Termite Control - explains how termite bait traps are used to detect termites near a building; this method avoids use of chemical barriers but requires very reliable, regular inspection as the theory is based on detection (and changing the bait to a poison at that time) rather than prevention of insect attack.
Chemical barrier that resists insect attack: is applied around and under the building. Chemical barriers for termites and other wood destroying insects used to work very well, but modern chemicals may be less effective/less durable over time due to changes in pesticides to make these chemicals less of an an environmental hazard.
TERMITE SHIELD Installation describes how and where metallic shields are installed to make it more difficult for insects to enter wood framing from the ground or through the building foundation. While a termite shield does not absolutely prevent attack by termites nor other wood-destroying insects from the ground, the shield can force termites to build mud tubes around a visible flange making the attack easier to detect.
A termite shield is simply a metal shield is set atop all wood sills, extending an inch or more past the building interior and exterior wall surfaces, bent on an angle downwards to shed water, with exact details specified by a pest control officer and installed during construction.
A termite shield may be effective but remains a risky approach to bug-proofing if the shield is not inspected and if not kept visually accessible on both inside and outside of the buildings for periodic check - a termite mud tube might bypass a metal shield.
TERMITE SHIELDS vs TERMITICIDE describes the use of chemical barriers or treatments to resist attack by termites or carpenter ants (different chemicals, different application methods must be used).
Water & moisture control: It is no surprise that quite often we find that the primary point of attack by carpenter ants or termites on a wood structure is where there is or was a leak that wet wood members. Even in the case of powder post beetles, where leaks may not be immediately present, a history of high indoor or basement or crawl space moisture levels increase the risk of that attack.
By keeping water away from the building foundation, fixing leaks that send water through the structure, and by keeping indoor humidity at appropriate levels we can reduce the attractiveness of wood and structural members to wood destroying insects, particularly carpenter ants and termites.
Start by a complete and competent inspection of the building to identify existing leaks or moisture problems as well as construction details that invite a leak or moisture issue.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Question: can you identify the type of insect that appears to have infested this wood seen in our attic?
What kind of pest do you think makes this? - MJS 10/24/2012
I can't say, MJS, but what is quite apparent from your photograph is that what appears to be insect activity, perhaps from a type of borer beetle, occurred before the tree was harvested and cut into lumber.
You can see that the flat sawn and planed surface of the wood has left cross-sectional slices of exposed, sawdust-filled voids in the wood. To me the damage looks like a type of wood boring beetle, powder post beetle or old house borer, but that's uncertain.
We publish your photo here to invite other readers to comment, and I'll also review our text library for some comparison images of similar wood damage.
(Dec 12, 2012) Jeri said:
I live in an old home.Recently I noticed black chunks of petrified [fill in the blank]coming out of the wall through a crack in the bottom of the wall neear refrigerator. I pulled out fridge and saw a slurry of these "chunks" in the fridge condensation. Also, interesting were what I call "amoebas" They now appear in my fridge (probably via the fan) and now I see actual insects in fridge and freezer.The amoebas are now found in sink, on stove. they seem to just appear. No one seems to know what the black chunks are but all you need to do is bang the wall and it comes trickling out. I have been bitten by some insect and I think this is all connected in some way. Any Biologists out there?
If you can send us some sharp photograps of what you are seeing, showing the refrigerator, wall, closeups of the crack, closeups of the slurry of "chunks" of debris of concern, we can comment further. Use the email found at our CONTACT US link seen at page top or bottom.
Depending on what we see I may ask you to send a sample to our forensic laboratory for further testing.
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Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
 Jeffrey Hahn, Colleen Cannon, and Mark Ascerno, "Carpenter Ants", University of Minnesota Extension, retrieved 9/19/2012, original source: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/dk1015.html, copy on file as [Carpenter_Ants_UMinn.pdf]
The Forensic Building Pathology division provides evidence in report form to government agencies, consultancy firms, lawyers and others, when truly independent analysis based on comprehensive testing is required. Incodo arguably has the largest, most up-to-date and comprehensive range of building investigation equipment available and has developed unique methodologies particularly in the field of non-destructive testing for leaking structures.
Incodo In situ Timber Assessment:
The in-situ Timber Assessment division provides a service whereby technicians use state-of-the-art timber resistance drill technology to profile variations in timber density associated with timber decay.
The work is done on site and the results are instant.
This technology is objective and evidential in nature and provides assessment as to whether wood is significantly decayed, suspect or suitable for retention. The technology has particular application in locating and assessing hidden decay.
 Thomas Tannert, Andreas Muller, Mareike Vogel, "Applications and limitations of NDT: a timber bridge case study", NDTCE’09, Non-Destructive Testing in Civil Engineering
Nantes, France, June 30th – July 3rd, 2009, web search 8/3/2012, original source: http://www.ndt.net/article/ndtce2009/papers/144.pdf [copy on file as Tannert_Timber_Test_144.pdf]
The applications and limitations of different non-destructive and semi-destructive
techniques to evaluate the structural integrity of timber members in a pedestrian bridge are
presented as a case study. Sophisticated assessment tools are required to detect hidden
damages in timber structures: for example stress-wave techniques are used to evaluate the
modulus of elasticity of bending members and resistance to drilling is used to gain knowledge
of areas of changed density due to insect or moisture induced damages. Reliably relating the
gathered data to the structural integrity of the structure is a complex issue.
and connection details of a decommissioned timber bridge were evaluated using non
destructive assessment tools. Eventually these parts were tested destructively to assess their
remaining modulus of elasticity and load bearing capacity. The need for improvements in the
current practice is highlighted by comparing the results from the non-destructive, semidestructive
and destructive tests.
 Desert Termites, Thomas W. Fuchs, Extension Entomologist, Darrell N. Ueckert, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and Bastiaan M. Drees,
Extension Entomologist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas A&M University System, web search 09/13/2010, original source: http://insects.tamu.edu/extension/bulletins/uc/uc-016.html
 Termites - Greenhouse Gases, U.S. EPA, Environmental Protection Agency. Web search 09/11/2010, original source: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/ap42/ch14/final/c14s02.pdf Quoting an interesting passage from this brief document: Termites inhabit many different ecological regions, but they are concentrated primarily in
tropical grasslands and forests. Symbiotic micro-organisms in the digestive tracts of termites
(flagellate protozoa in lower termites and bacteria in higher termites) produce methane (CH4).
Estimates of the contribution to the global budget of CH4 from termites vary widely, from negligible
up to 15 percent.
 Truly Nolen Pest Control, Tel: 866-221-4765, is a national franchise of pest control operators in the U.S. Quoting from the company's website: Truly Nolen [has] over 80 offices located in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company services more than 150,000 customers and employs about 1,100 partners, with almost 50 percent service technicians. Domestic franchises are offered throughout the United States. International franchises are also established in over 30 countries.
 U.S. EPA. Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic
Substances. 1997. Re registration eligibility decision:
Diflubenzuron. Pp. 17, 46. www.epa.gov/
 U.S. EPA. Office of Prevention, Pesticides and
Toxic Substances. 1994. Pesticide fact sheet:
Hexaflumuron. Washington, D.C.
 U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticide Programs. 2003.
Pesticide ecotoxicity database. Unpublished database.
U.S. EPA. Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic
Substances. 1998. Re registration eligibility
decision: Hydramethylnon. Pp. 16-18, 43.
 U.S. EPA. Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.
Undated. New chemical New chemical fact sheet:
Noviflumuron. Washington, D.C.
 "Protecting Your Home from Subterranean Termite Damage", Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 2004, V 24 No. 3, - 6-7, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides/NCAP, POB 1393, Eugene OR, 97440 541-344-5044 www.pesticide.org: Web search 09/11/2010: http://www.hipspro.com/pubs/subterraneantermites.pdf
This document discusses alternatives for termite protection including reducing the attractiveness of the structure to termites (get wood away from the building, fix leaks), use of 16-grit sand (diameter 0.06 - 0.1 in) as a termite barrier 18" wide x 3" deep in crawl areas, or stainless steel mesh for the same purpose under foundations and slabs, boric acid, Diflubenzuron (insect growth regulator, risk genetic damage, EPA classed as carcinogen), Hexaflumuron (insect growth regulator, EPA didn't ID health concerns, waived some testing, partly because of anticipated very low risk of human exposure), Hydramethylnon (stomach toxicant, EPA: Carcinogen, highly toxic to fish), Noviflumuron (chemically similar to hexaflumuron), can cause anemia, EPA didn't ID other health hazards, some testing requirements waived, moderately toxic to fish).
 "House Eating Fungus"Meruliporia incrassata (also called "Poria" the house eating fungus) in the U.S. or Serpula lacrymans in Europe) can cause severe structural damage. Evidence of hidden "poria" may be found by expert inspection methods which include tracing sources and paths of probable Building
leaks and moisture traps. Further, careful indoor particle sampling methods can often permit the presence of this mold to be identified in the laboratory.
 Termite Damage Case Study#1 - exterior clues predicted insect damage; interior access was limited but certain clear clues led right to the damage
as well as an attempted cover-up of termite damage below a "repaired" wooden floor. The real evidence was in the driveway. [in process]
 Termite Damage Case Study#2 - very limited visual access inside a building made this inspection for structural damage tough. Outside
conditions suggested a risk of water entry and insect attack. Inside the house had mysteriously sloping floors - sloping in every direction.
There were few indications of ongoing building movement to explain the sloping. Perseverance led to finding severe termite damage at the
building sills. [in process]
 Wikipedia provided background information about some topics discussed at this website provided this citation is also found in the same article along with a " retrieved on" date. NOTE: because Wikipedia entries are fluid and can be amended in real time, we cite the retrieval date of Wikipedia citations and we do not assert that the information found there is necessarily authoritative.
Termites, Wikipedia web search 09/11/2010, original source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Termite provided some information about termite size.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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