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Subterranean Termite Swarm

What are all these flying bugs? Oh no, TERMITES!

Termites, just their name sends shivers up some people’s spine. Maybe it’s that they swarm in large numbers or maybe it’s the idea of them chomping on your real estate investment. Whatever reason, termites are no joke.

Termites feed on wood. Homes are made of wood. The good news is they don’t feed on people or pets (unless your Captain Cook). So, while a termite swarm may be disturbing in most cases its good to know you have a termite problem sooner rather than later.

There are two common kinds of termite species that are found in Santa Clarita. Drywood termites and subterranean termites.

Drywood termites live in your wood. They land on your home during swarming season (typically, July-September), find some wood and burrow in. Then likely they will go unseen for at least a couple years. Once the colony develops and matures you may start to see some droppings being pushed out of the timbers they are in. Many times, we get calls because a homeowner sees ‘sawdust’ or little seed like pellets being pushed out of a hole in a window or wall. But often, infestations can go undetected for years and are not discovered until a swarm occurs inside of the home. CVA Exterminators has various options for controlling drywood termites.

Subterranean termites live in the underground in the soil and make mud tunnels to find your home. They may enter through small (very small) cracks in the slab, around pipe penetrations or even right up your foundation walls. This species swarms in the spring time, usually on a sunny day after a rainfall. These species can do more damage in shorter period of time, because unlike the drywood termite species which has to grow a ‘family’, the army of subterranean termites arrives in thousands to hundreds of thousands. So, they can cause more damage fast! Soil treatments are the best way to control a subterranean termite problem in Santa Clarita.  Special materials must be used to control this termite as like ants they can sense home improvement store products and just avoid them.

With any termite problem, an inspection is the first step. Each of CVA’s inspectors currently have a minimum of 20 years of individual experience dealing with termite problems. So, you will be in knowledgeable hands.

For Sale Sign

Should I buy a home without termite certification (clearance)?

It used to be that when you purchased a home you could be assured that it was checked and cleared for termites and other wood destroying organisms (WDO’s). But that is not the case anymore.

How it used to be – In the real estate contract there was a section where the sellers typically agreed to have a WDO inspection and report completed and they agreed to correct all ‘Section 1’ items found on the report. Section 1 items are findings that show evidence of active infestation or infection and the damage caused by such. So, termites, termite damage and dry rot or fungus damage which was found was to be corrected by the seller prior to the close of escrow. Section 1 items are bad news and should be corrected or the problems could turn into a nightmare. These items are not covered by insurance.

What happened - A few years ago the California Association of Realtors decided to remove the termite (wood destroying organism) inspection and report from the real estate contract.  They felt that it impelled sellers to agree to correct problems that they probably were not aware of and did not have a ‘known price’ to repair. This was because in most cases the termite inspection was not ordered until after the home was sold. This created an ‘unknown’ repair amount. I have to say, smart and experienced realtors called for inspections, prior to putting the home on the market. This way they ‘know’ what the costs (if any) for termite repairs will be before they negotiate a selling price. Common sense… right?

Regardless, the situation now is that the WDO inspection is now handled like the home inspection. Typically, buyers have both the home and termite inspector out to provide them with inspections and reports. Once all the reports are reviewed by the buyer(s), they and their agent submit a request for repairs. Buyers now request. for repairs to be completed, but they may not be agreed to by the seller. Depending on the market (buyer or seller market), none, some or all the repairs may get completed based on what is negotiated. Often, buyers are convinced to accept a 'credit' instead of having the Section 1 repairs completed. 

While this does make it easier for sellers, it often creates a burden on the buyers to try to get the work completed after they move in, if it gets done at all. Many times it does not get done and the termites or rot continue to damage the home.

Some buyers become overwhelmed with the mass of paperwork they have to look at when buying a home and may not even know that the termite work was not done. I’ve spoken to many buyers who assumed that all termite work was done, when in fact it was not done and only a credit was issued. So, they find out the hard way that they are living in an infested, infected or damaged home.

Worse yet, some WDO problems if not cared for promptly can result in thousands of dollars of additional damage. In one case I saw a few patio cover shade bars that were rotten and left in place, subsequently destroy a french door system that was just beneath the patio cover. The fungus spores had spread from rain and wind to the door which was in need of painting and now the rot had created so much damage in a little over a year that the doors had to be replaced costing the owners thousands of dollars. I’m pretty sure they didn’t think that ‘credit’ they got was worth it. The shade bars should’ve been replaced as it would have saved them all the additional expense.

What you should do – If you are a buyer, have your potential new home inspected and request that all section 1 (active infestations, infections and related damage) be corrected prior to moving in. After all its not your fault that the home was not maintained in a proper and timely manner. Make sure you get a ‘clearance’ or ‘certification’. This is a statement on the inspection report(s) or completion notice (if work was done) that certifies that the property is free and clear of active wood destroying organism problems in visible and accessible areas. If you accept a completion notice for work that was done without that certification then likely only some of the Section 1 items were completed. Which means potentially damaging issues are still present on the home.

If you are a seller, have your home inspected before it goes on the market. The cost of a termite inspection is nominal. If your home needs repairs, at least you will know how much it will cost, then you can negotiate properly knowing what it may cost if you need to get the work done in order to sell the home. 

If you are selling or purchasing a home, get your inspection ordered here

Fungus Damage at Patio

Is my home rotting away?

Do you have a post, trim board, or patio cover timber that just doesn’t look right? Does it look like its shriveled or growing a mushroom type bloom on it?

If so, you may have a wood destroying fungus infecting your home’s wood. Wood destroying fungi, along with termites are nature’s way of recycling dead trees. These fungi unfortunately do not know your home’s lumber does not need recycling.  

These fungi are present everywhere. Their spores or ‘seeds’ float around in the air and if they land on a piece of wood and there is a little moisture present, then they establish themselves and begin to feed on your homes wood. If you have an infected timber, then that can increase the number of spores near your home and infect other nearby timbers.

In Santa Clarita, it is typically found in patio covers, exterior wood members around windows doors and even the eaves and rafters of your home if the roof or gutter system is not working correctly. The fungus is like a cancer of wood. Once it’s found it is best to cut it out completely to eliminate it.

Removal and replacement of fungus damaged wood should be left to professionals. Fungus infections have microscopic roots that spread into the sound areas of a piece of wood. If you don’t cut it out completely, like cancer, it can come back.

In some cases, some minor fungal infections can be treated with a fungicide. Licensed contractors and pest firms with a wood destroying organism license are the only ones who can legally apply fungicides to wood. Handypersons cannot legally apply fungicides. The best fungicides are readily available to licensed pest companies and they typically have the most experience and proper equipment for applying these materials.

Additionally, pest companies with a Branch 3 - Wood Destroying Organisms license like CVA Exterminators, can perform repairs. We are experienced in ‘surgical carpentry’. For instance, some contractors may not be interested in repairing portions of a damaged patio cover and will often recommend a whole ‘new’ patio cover. Surgical carpenters can go in and just remove and replace what is damaged saving thousands of dollars. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing out a post or two and then you can spend the money you save on a good paint job for the weathered wood that is still solid.

If you need to have your home assessed for possible fungal infections, contact us for a free limited inspection of your home.