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STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
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Guide to powder post beetles & old house borers in buildings. This article provides powder post beetle & old house borer insect & rot damage photographs, inspection advice, and lists additional articles that discuss the inspection, detection, prevention, and repair of structural damage from insects (termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, powder post beetles, and other wood destroying insects), indoor mold, rot and building leaks or water entry. Our page top photo shows our client holding a screwdriver that penetrated a powder-post-beetle-damaged beam fully to the hilt of the tool - indicating severe structural damage to a beam damaged by powder post beetles.
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In our powder post beetle photos above, while there was significant beam damage, the infestation did not appear active.
Powder post beetle damaged wood will show multiple tiny holes, about 1/8" in diameter, leaving the outermost surface of the wood otherwise intact. Probing you will find powdery sawdust and damaged wood just below this skin. The older the powder post beetle (or old house borer beetle) damage is, the deeper into the wood the damage will extend.
For this reason, strategic probing is important to assess the depth of damage to the wood and thus to the wood structure. When powder post beetles are active you may see light dusting of fine wood powde around some of these holes as well as on surfaces below.
We look for the presence of fine wood powder around the insect exit holes or on the ground below the damaged infected member as indications of recent insect activity. Below left we are probing to determine the depth of insect damage into the beam; at below right is powder post beetle damage in a hand hewn beam. With the absence of fresh fine sawdust powde around the exit holes in these beams one might infer that the insects were not active at the time of inspection.
Below are two more photographs of old house borer or powder post beetle damage in a floor support beam. We probe the structural member to find the depth of insect damage as a step in deciding if structural repair, reinforcement, or replacement are needed.
See Insects & Foam Insulation, and TERMITE SHIELDS vs TERMITICIDE for a discussion of prevention of insect damage at foam insulated buildings and foundations. Also see SLAB INSULATION, PASSIVE SOLAR. Readers should also see INSULATION LOCATION for CAPES, CRAWLSPACES, and may also be interested in the mold resistance properties of Icynene Foam Spray Insulation. Finally, because insect damage on buildings is very often related to locations of water leaks or moisture traps, readers should also see WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS.
Powder post beetle damage is typically treated with a topical insecticide spray.
Watch out: it's often the case that this insect pest can appear dormant for a very long time, years, but activity may renew when conditions such as moisture level or temperature change.
Some pest control operators (PCOs) also spray paint the wood surfaces in order to make it easier to spot a renewal of insect activity in the future.
Details about when, where, how & why to probe wood structural and non-strucural components on buildings are founda at STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING.
Assessing the extent of structural damage to wood framing members in a conventional building inspection involves the following phases and procedures:
Clearly the ground-off ice pick wood probe (far left) is finding less-severe damage than the "to the hilt" stab of my dad's screwdriver demonstrated by our client (close left).
Watch out: while we advise against unwarranted cosmetic damage at a building interior, strategic probing of wood sills, rim joists, or floor structures (or other wood members) can disclose severe structural damage that was otherwise not evident. At below left, even our pen was able to easily puncture this termite-damaged joist that had been "cosmetically-repaired" using wood putty
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about powder post beetle damage to building wood components or structures
Questions & answers or comments about powder post beetle damage at buildings: how to recognize & assess powder post damage to wood structures.
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