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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
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DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
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FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
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STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
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Termite damage case study: this article provides a detailed case study of a termite inspection that found insect & rot damage:photographs, inspection advice & visual clues that led to discovery of severe hidden structural damage to a building. These include house damaging mold or fungus, termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, & other wood destroying organisms in and on buildings.We are also concerned with choosing mold and insect damage repair and prevention methods which avoid unnecessary application of chemicals or other environmental impacts. Preventing these problems 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.
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This disturbing case study reports a sequence of clues suggesting insect damage, then termite damage, then the discovery of very extensive hidden termite damage in a finished wood floor. We provide a sequence of photographs showing the course of our termite inspection and what we found.
See ROT, FUNGUS, TERMITES for our home page about rot and insect damage at buildings. Also 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.
The first sign of trouble was that pile of wood flooring and debris by the garage door, outside the home (photo above left). We later looked through this pile and found it was full of termite-damaged wood flooring. If we had examined it at first, and had we confirmed it came from this home, we'd have known the story before ever entering the house. But as you'll see (below) the termite damage "repair" was horrible: it was a cosmetic-only repair intended to sell the home, leaving not only extensive termite damage in place, but the conditions that caused the termite attack had not been addressed nor had a professional termite treatment been performed.
Below right our photograph shows a beautifully-finished and "brand-new" looking floor in a family room wing. We knew that this floor was built over either a slab on grade or an inaccessible crawl area - there was no access from below. The room was described has having been recently remodeled by the owners in the course of preparing the home for sale.
But wait? What was that odd gray goop we spotted along the floor perimeter where some old flooring also remained in place? See our photo at below right.
The combination of old floor boards and wood filler and caulk shown at below right made us worry about what sort of damage had been "repaired" in this floor. We continued looking under furniture and behind doors - see our photo at below left: there remained a collection of older oak flooring extensively patched with wood-filler.
These clues justified (with permission) pulling off baseboard molding trim to disclose how the floor was constructed and what damage to its support may remain. We saw rot, termite damage, mud, mud tubes. A disappointment at least.
Conditions at the floor perimeter led us to probe some small spots of wood filler in the center of the re-built, re-finished floor. With the slightest pressure the wood filler collapsed under our probe (above left), showing the extensive termite damage shown by the photographs at above right and the two termite damage photographs below.
This was an upsetting series of discoveries:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to inspect buildings to find termite damage & how to assess the extent of insect damage to the building
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Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Articles about Rot, fungus, Termites, Carpenter Ants, Powder Post Beetles, Leaks and Water Entry Damage in Buildings