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Termites on his two-year old house
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Dave is worried about termites.....

Dear Sir:

Yours web site was the first I visited from "Ask Jeeves".  Talk about my good fortune.  I have just spent three hours devouring your informational web site.  Now, I have a couple of questions. But, first let me give you some preliminary information.

We built a new home in Canterbury, NH two years ago.  We had the site pretreated by (name omitted).  They supposedly treated the footing, under the cellar floor before it was poured, and all the back fill. Last week I found Termites swarming on the south side of the house.  I pulled back the sod along the foundation and there termites in the sod. I called the exterminator.  They came back and chemically treated the whole south wall again.  Now comes my questions.

First, they left me some information on Termite-controlling mulch and wood stakes called "Term-a-Rid 613".  Have you ever heard of it?  They  did not recommend it.  They just left the information on the product.

Secondly, when I bought the land, there were 'log butts" from a timber cutting operation on the site. I believe the construction firm that did the site work for our home buried that rotten timber somewhere on site.  Should I have it dug up and removed or doesn't it matter?

Thirdly, how long does the chemicals under the cellar floor last?  I have an apartment in the basement of our split ranch for our daughter.  I really enjoyed your web site and intend to revisit.

Thanks.

David D.



So I wrote back with....

Hello, Dave:

Well, first of all, thank you for your kind compliments!  And three hours on my site?  The Web is a great time-waster, eh?  On to your question(s).

It is entirely possible to have termites, such as you describe, and also for them to be no threat to your home.  Termites, of course, are in the soil everywhere, and might be expected to be under sod (or mulch) that you might have around your house.  And the swarming termites will use whatever is around to "rest" on.  Be it you, me or the side of your house.  The swarming, on the outside is not what you worry about.  You worry about the swarming INSIDE.  This same thing has happened to us several times, and I commend the company for supplying the treatment.  It probably wasn't even necessary, (according to your description) but often we do it to assuage the customer.  To try to explain the above to a customer might take more time than the treatment.  And then they think you're "trying to get out of something."  We would probably do the same thing, necessary or not.  Best to leave a good taste in the mouth of your customer.

The termite-resistant mulch works.  It is also expensive, and, I think, mostly not necessary.  Might be a whole lot cheaper to put in those "river rocks" instead of mulch.  Mulch must be renewed every so often, to retain the termite resistance qualities.  

Forget the stakes - they're essentially worthless.  Your house is only two years old and you shouldn't need either the mulch or the stakes.

It is illegal, in anyplace I know of, to bury construction debris on site.  Very bad building practice.  Terrible building practice.  How do they know you won't want to use those areas in the future?  Complain to the city building inspector about this, ask him your recourse.  As far as termites and the log butts, it really shouldn't make any difference, unless they were buried alongside the foundation.  There's always wood or other organic debris in the soil - it's just that you shouldn't ADD to the situation - and for other reasons than termites.

Termiticides, under a slab, should last quite some period of time.  It depends on many factors, really, but this isn't something you have to worry about.  Just refrain from putting, say, expensive ceramic tiles on a concrete floor.  One of these days, the floor will have to be drilled out for termite treatment, and ceramic tile often shatters as soon as you hit it with a drill bit.  Keep the basement as much a "basement" as possible.  Keep the substructure visible, if you can, it will make it much easier to inspect for termites and for access to the other house systems.


----john



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