Though it is advisable to instruct a professional to treat your home for termites, it is possible to undertake an initial termite inspection yourself. Taking a few simple steps may allow you to determine whether or not you need to engage an exterminator.
Step 1 - Gather Your Tools
A basic termite inspection involves looking for evidence of a termite infestation with the naked eye; this comes from the debris that remains from the manner in which the insects feed. Though a magnifying glass may not always be required, it may be useful to have on hand as appearances can be deceptive–what may look like dust may actually be something far more sinister.
Step 2 - Do an External Examination
Since termites often gain entrance to a property by burrowing their way in from outside, it is prudent to begin a termite inspection by examining the external walls. Use a handheld light to thoroughly examine the foundation for any holes that could be used as an access point. Pay special attention to parts of the property adjacent to any wood that may be stored outside your home, as it is an area where termites like to set up home. Exposed wood that makes up the structure of the property should also be examined carefully.
Be aware that there are many different species of termites, some of which can fly. Termites travel in swarms and shed their wings when they find a food source that they can burrow into. Look for any piles of wings that may be laying around the external boundary of the building. Their size and shape make it easy to mistake them for seed pods so use a magnifying glass, if necessary. If you often see a swarm of what looks like flying ants close to your property, you may have a colony nearby.
Step 3 - Do an Internal Examination
It is important to thoroughly check all possibilities within the house. Start with areas that are easily visible and able to be checked and pay special attention to solid wood. Though termites will often attempt to patch up the holes they make by eating through wood, they are not always successful so look out for any telltale holes. The use of dirt and their excrement to patch holes will make your wall to have a patch of mud on it. Small piles of unexplained sawdust along the baseboard will also be a sign that your termite inspection is worthwhile. Air bubbles beneath any painted wood is a sign that termites have burrowed beneath to get to the wood.
Step 4 - Do a Closer Examination
The dark, damp areas that termites are fond of will also have to be checked so be prepared to examine your attic, basement, crawl space, cupboards, and any area where there are several pipes.
In the event that your termite inspection highlights signs that you may have any infestation, use a hammer or the handle of a screwdriver to tap at solid wood; if it sounds hollow or pieces easily chips away, then it is advisable to contact an exterminator as soon as possible to prevent any further damage being done.