7 Signs of Termites in Your Home

Hollowed out wood door
If a wood door or piece of furniture isn’t supposed to be hollow, but is, you’ve got termites. (DepositPhotos)

5. Hollowed-Out Wood

If you tap on wood and it sounds hollow or papery, or you are able to easily break through the exterior of the wood, this is a good indication that there is termite damage, as termites normally eat wood from the inside out.

Be on the lookout for blistering pieces of wood; they may be a physical indicator that termites have infested inside your home. This leaves your walls in a fragile state.

Check the sound and structural integrity of door jambs, baseboards and window sills. If they sound hollow or you can break the wood easily with your fingers, this is a good indicator that termites are present.


Exterior wood damage from termites
This exterior wood damage isn’t just unsightly — it’s consistent with typical termite damage. (DepositPhotos)

6. Exterior wood damage

First, termites chew through wood to consume the cellulose that gives them their main nutrients. Then, termites leave long grooves and maze-like patterns that weaken the wood structure. For a home, this is a concerning matter for the structural integrity of the walls, floors, ceilings and other regions.

Even below the surface, you may find signs of termites like hollow-sounding wood, buckling floorboards, sagging floors, and cracks in walls and ceilings.


Mud tubes on wood door
Mud tubes should never appear on a wood door — unless, of course, you’ve got termites. (DepositPhotos)

7. Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites build underground colonies and make tunnels above ground to search for food sources. Signs of subterranean termites invading your home are often apparent through cracked or unsealed foundations.

Termites create tunnels out of a combination of mud, their feces and saliva; these tunnels are brown, dry and cylindrical. Termites can be found living in areas like the garden and worse, under the house.

Subterranean termites in search of food travel from their home underground to the surface through self-made tubes. Mud tubes are pencil thin and allow the termites to keep very specific temperature and humidity levels to help them survive.

Also, mud tubes protect the termites by hiding them from any potential predators.


Further Information

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great post on termite signs! Just want to add that it’s easy for homeowners to mistake some other wood boring pest species for signs of termites. The most usual suspects? Carpenter ants. Even woodworms can be mistaken for termites.
    And it’s best to know exactly what little critters are paving roads through your home before you start the process of getting rid of them!

  2. Question? Does pine straw in flower beds next to the house ‘draw’ termites…and is pine straw susceptible to being a
    place where termites live?

  3. Great article! We have subterranean termites here in N. Alabama. They like to eat sweet potatoes and can often be found in the harder stems of my vegetables too. They are a nuisance! My pest control service put bait stations in several areas of our garden and it seems to have helped. I assume this is safe to do?

    You mentioned “headbanging” and gave me a chuckle…
    Years ago I lived in an apartment at the beach in California. I heard the termites tapping in the wall (I thought it was their munching at the time) and notified the the owner of the premises. She informed me I was “Stupid, because termites don’t make noise.” Three months later every apartment in the building was swarming with termites. It was like something from a horror movie. The whole building had to be tented.

    • Hi, Lynda! Termite bite stations with a lockable cap are usually tamper-proof and people-and pet-safe.
      Sorry to hear that your old landlord was so abrupt with you—but yes, knowledge is power. 🙂

  4. I have a fairly new house, it has stone gravel that covers the entire space under the house. the gravel is covered by black plastic. There were 6 pieces of small wood that held the plastic in place. An inspector said that this be a termite problem. What are the chances?

    • Hi, Larry. This home inspector is correct.
      Wood that’s exposed to moisture can attract termites — unless you seal it with a product that can weather the elements.
      Happy home improving! 🙂

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