What can I do about termites?


Termites live in large colonies, but because they dig and move frequently, tend to go unnoticed until they do damage.

Dear David: I’ve heard there are termites in some parts of the city. How do I find out where they are and protect myself? – GNAWING FEAR

DEAR GNAWING: The mere mention of termites is enough to strike fear in the heart of any homeowner. These white, rice-sized insects turn wood into soil and reproduce at an alarming rate, which makes them pretty unwelcome houses guests. The eastern subterranean termite is the most common termite species in Southern Ontario. Naturally-occurring colonies are rare, but are thought to have made their way into cities on infected cargo, such as firewood.

Termites live in large colonies, but because they dig and move frequently, tend to go unnoticed until they do damage. Outdoors, they are easy to spot on affected mulch, tree stumps, scrap wood or wooden retaining walls. Once indoors, they are harder to locate.

Because termites can enter a home through hairline cracks in the foundation, initial signs of termite damage typically show up in the basement. Termites build “shelter tubes” to insulate their environment and retain moisture. In an infected home, these tubes may appear as discoloured streaks on walls and trim, patches of stained wood, or areas where paint is cracked and bubbled. If the insects have been active, it may be possible to locate hollow spots by knocking on the walls.

Though uncommon locally, termites are known to exist in parts of Fergus, Elora, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Affected areas in the tri-cities tend to be hyper-local and limited to specific streets.

Municipal governments have varying degrees of transparency when it comes to termite information. The City of Guelph posts management maps and neighbourhood updates on the Guelph.ca website. The City of Kitchener offers general information online and asks residents to call the building department (519-741-2312) with any concerns. Information is extremely limited on city websites in Waterloo and Cambridge.

If you hear rumours of termite activity in your neighbourhood, I recommend having your property professionally inspected. If termites are found, you’ll need to have them removed by a professional termite control company, hopefully before they do structural damage. This is not a job to tackle on your own.

PRO TIP: An experienced Realtor can share information about locations that have been affected by termites. If you happen to be buying in one of those areas, I recommend having a termite inspector look at the property before you make a firm offer. For added protection, your offer can request an acknowledgement from the seller or listing agent to confirm the property does not have a termite issue. #AskDavid #Advice

David Schooley is partnering with 570 News host Mike Farwell and the “Farwell4Hire” Campaign in support of Cystic Fibrosis research. Now through May 30, David will donate $1000 to Farwell4Hire for every home his clients buy or sell. To reach David, call or text 519-577-1212.