Your Home, Your Investment: Toronto's Unwanted Guest
What threat causes more damage than tornadoes; hailstorms, windstorms, and hurricanes combined and is not covered by home insurance? It’s Toronto’s Unwanted Guest: Termites.
What are termites and when did they arrive in Toronto?
Termites are small insects that eat wood. This leaves Toronto homes constructed from wood vulnerable to the damage termites can create if left untreated. The damage can range from triggering the need for minor repairs to causing significant structural damage.
Termites are usually found where there is wood to soil contact in sheds or garages, in damp basements and in badly constructed crawlspaces. Termites will not eat concrete, stone, varnish or paint. Termites live in colonies and do not like open air so they can be difficult to spot. To survive, they hide in mud tunnels, wood or soil and build their nests in the ground.
Termites were first found on Cherry Street in 1938, likely coming from the US. From there, termites have spread into several of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, mostly south of Bloor/Danforth Avenues at this point.
What should homeowners know about termites?
Homeowners should be aware that damage caused by termites is NOT covered by most home insurance policies, so homeowners need to detect, treat and prevent termite infestations. Once you know termites are near your home, the sooner you act the better.
How can termites be detected?
Getting a professional termite inspection is the best way to detect a termite infestation. Working from the ground up anywhere wood contacts soil, inspect for the following signs inside and outside of your home:
· Mud tubes that are brown and clay-like may appear on walls.
· Termite droppings that look like sawdust piles may appear on the floors near a site.
· Damage may occur such as peeling paint, rotting wood and sagging floors.
· After shining a flashlight or banging on a wall, termites themselves may appear.
How are termites treated?
Professional treatment of a termite infestation is recommended. Treatment generally involves safe, odour-free pesticides being sprayed and injected 4 feet into the soil along all exterior walls, the foundation walls and the interior basement floors and walls as well as outside property. Post treatment, you can buy a warranty that can usually be transferred to any future owners. These warranties typically allow for additional treatments, as needed, and also assert that the infestation has been managed.
How is a termite infestation prevented?
After the initial treatment, you will want to look at preventing another infestation. You will want to assess your home and property to identify all areas, big or small, where wood contacts soil. If you have a wood structure that has contact with soil, you will want to place concrete or stone between the structure and the soil. Any cracks in concrete foundations should be repaired as termites can enter your home in this way. These home renovations can go a long way in preventing future problems.
What should potential buyers and investors know about termites?
If you are considering buying a home in a termite-affected area, you should consider doing a termite inspection prior to making an offer. Additionally, if the home has untreated termite damage or has been treated for termites, the seller and the selling real estate agent should disclose this fact. It may not eliminate the home from your list but it is important to be aware of the situation and take into account all factors during the negotiation phase of your purchase.
So remember to treat and prevent unwanted guests, act sooner rather than later and never have any wood contact with soil! Good Luck!