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Is Termite Inspection Necessary?
Old 03-29-2011, 12:41 PM   #1
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Is Termite Inspection Necessary?

Hello Forum Members,

I've received all kinds of great advice from the members on this Forum so again I look to your knowledge and wisdom on this:

I live in Northern Virginia in a single family home, how often should I get a termite inspection?

There is a plan that Terminix sells that costs $30 per month, $360 per year, for regular termite inspection. Is that overkill? Should I just pay for an inspection once every couple of years?

Thank you for your advice.

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Old 03-29-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
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What kind of termites do you have up there


I will give advice for Texas as we mostly have subterrainian termites... NO... it is easy to check your own foundation for termite tubes then to pay someone to inspect...


Additional information... inspection does not guarantee that you will not have termites... my old house had them and no inspection would have caught them (I am a former exterminator and I did not see the signs)... they came up in the middle of the slab where a drain pipe was located... we found them when we tore out some sheetrock to do some remodeling...

Also, termites do not do a lot of damage quickly...



But... if you do not know what you are doing.... you can pay for a one time inspection every 5 years or so...
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:37 PM   #3
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Thank you. I have not seen anything that makes me suspect that I might have termites. I also don't know what kind of termites we have in Northern Virginia. But I would classify myself as someone who does not know what she is doing so I will do as you advised, get an inspection once every 5 years then. Thank you so much for your response.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:52 PM   #4
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You might shop around. We use a local small family operator and pay half that. We have subs all over the place so it's worth it to us to keep an eye on things.

Used a guy for my wife's parent's house that was formerly an employee of a big firm, might have been Terminix, had some unflattering things to say about them. Could be taken with a grain of salt, but wouldn't suprise me to be mostly true either.
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
What kind of termites do you have up there


I will give advice for Texas as we mostly have subterrainian termites... NO... it is easy to check your own foundation for termite tubes then to pay someone to inspect...


Additional information... inspection does not guarantee that you will not have termites... my old house had them and no inspection would have caught them (I am a former exterminator and I did not see the signs)... they came up in the middle of the slab where a drain pipe was located... we found them when we tore out some sheetrock to do some remodeling...

Also, termites do not do a lot of damage quickly...

But... if you do not know what you are doing.... you can pay for a one time inspection every 5 years or so...
I was gonna say pretty much what you said, but one thing that's different between Texas & Virginia is that many more Virginia home are built on sub-flooring rather than slabs. In most of Texas that I've been in, slabs are more common. It's easy enough to inspect the exterior of the slab & find termite tubes, and then to treat them yourself. Yes, some do come up like you said around the plumbing, through cracks etc, but on a sub-floor type foundation, there's a whole lot more opportunity for them to start eating undetected. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if I lived in a house with a crawl space underneath I might be tempted to go ahead & do the $360 a year thing. I'm no exterminator, and I guess maybe I'd just sleep a little better at night. The monthly treatments would at least reduce my chances of an all out infestation, and hopefully the periodic inspections would increase the odds that they'd be detected sooner rather than later. I don't know, but to me the $360 would be worth the peace of mind. That said, I've so far never owned a house on a sub-floor, but I grew up in one like that. My mom does pay a company to do regular treatments. She's 82 yrs old and if nothing else, it makes her feel better.
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:55 PM   #6
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Here in New Orleans, when you put your house on the market part of the disclosure involves signing a form saying whether or not the house is under a termite contract. If it isn't, that would be a negative to a buyer here.

I didn't have mine under contract from 2005 (when Hurricane Katrina put my small termite company under about 15 feet of water for weeks) to 2010 (when the same termite company reinstated my contract, having struggled back from oblivion after a few years).

I never saw a termite during those five years and the termite inspector saw no evidence of any either. I am happy with my small, local termite company because the big guys (Orkin, Terminex, etc) charge about two or three times as much and I have never seen termites here. Termites are a huge problem in the French Quarter where the beautiful old historic homes are mostly wooden, but I live out in the suburbs where homes are brick.
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Old 03-29-2011, 05:21 PM   #7
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I was gonna say pretty much what you said, but one thing that's different between Texas & Virginia is that many more Virginia home are built on sub-flooring rather than slabs. In most of Texas that I've been in, slabs are more common. It's easy enough to inspect the exterior of the slab & find termite tubes, and then to treat them yourself. Yes, some do come up like you said around the plumbing, through cracks etc, but on a sub-floor type foundation, there's a whole lot more opportunity for them to start eating undetected. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if I lived in a house with a crawl space underneath I might be tempted to go ahead & do the $360 a year thing. I'm no exterminator, and I guess maybe I'd just sleep a little better at night. The monthly treatments would at least reduce my chances of an all out infestation, and hopefully the periodic inspections would increase the odds that they'd be detected sooner rather than later. I don't know, but to me the $360 would be worth the peace of mind. That said, I've so far never owned a house on a sub-floor, but I grew up in one like that. My mom does pay a company to do regular treatments. She's 82 yrs old and if nothing else, it makes her feel better.

Just a question... is what you are describing a pier and beam setup? IOW, a house on blocks? OR, is it one with a basement?

I ask that because with a 'block' house, it is almost impossible to find an infestation until they have had time to munch a good bit on your house... we do have them down here...

If it is a basement... then it makes a difference if finished or not... if not, then you just look on the inside just like outside... I remember seeing pictures of termite tubes going up 8 feet from the ground to the bottom of the house in a basement... in the middle of the room... seemed the owners never went down there....


The other reason is that there are dry wood termites (not sure if I am calling them correctly or not)... they do not live in the ground and can be munching away in your attic and not be found without a good inspector... then, the cost of getting rid of them is big because you have to tent your house...
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:11 PM   #8
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Yeah, I did mean pier & beam....for some reason, when I posted earlier that term just wouldn't come into my head. I knew what I was trying to say, but couldn't think of it. With a pier & beam house, aren't you able to spot termite infestations where they've tunneled or tubed up the piers and are eating your floor joists, beams, decking etc? I'm just guessing here...
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:33 PM   #9
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YMMV. There are termites and there are termites... Some are slow, others can destroy a house in a year. As I remember, southern bugs are worse.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:21 PM   #10
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My late FIL owned a termite company for over 40 years. He started treating new construction in the post WWII building boom. He said the chemicals they were using then were much more effective than the chemicals they were using at the end of his 40 year career. Termite companies were (and still are, I think) required to warranty the treatment on new consruction for five years. He said when he began his business he did not have to worry about the treatment lasting 5 years. At the end of his career he hoped the treatment would last 5 years.

He loved to talk termites and he had many pictures of termite damage. I went out on the job with him a few times, so I am comfortable doing my own inspections and treatments. I have lived in brick veneer houses with both slab and conventional foundations. I have found and treated termite infestations in both types.
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Old 03-30-2011, 10:28 AM   #11
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Yeah, I did mean pier & beam....for some reason, when I posted earlier that term just wouldn't come into my head. I knew what I was trying to say, but couldn't think of it. With a pier & beam house, aren't you able to spot termite infestations where they've tunneled or tubed up the piers and are eating your floor joists, beams, decking etc? I'm just guessing here...

It is according to what kind of blocks you have you house on... almost all the ones I did around here had those hollow cinder blocks... the termites can come up the middle of them right into the wood...


Also, there were some who had only one or two blocks before the piers... I had to tunnel my way to each block... (I was in my mid teens, so not that difficult... just time consuming)...


And then there are the people who put skirts around their house so it does not look like it is on blocks..


Either way, they are harder to find with this kind of construction..

I just remembered that there is a monitoring system I read about... basically they put stations all around your house with a piece of wood inside... they would come and check to see if termites had started to attack any of the wood... if not, then they assumed they had not made it to your house...
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Old 03-30-2011, 10:35 AM   #12
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My late FIL owned a termite company for over 40 years. He started treating new construction in the post WWII building boom. He said the chemicals they were using then were much more effective than the chemicals they were using at the end of his 40 year career. Termite companies were (and still are, I think) required to warranty the treatment on new consruction for five years. He said when he began his business he did not have to worry about the treatment lasting 5 years. At the end of his career he hoped the treatment would last 5 years.

He loved to talk termites and he had many pictures of termite damage. I went out on the job with him a few times, so I am comfortable doing my own inspections and treatments. I have lived in brick veneer houses with both slab and conventional foundations. I have found and treated termite infestations in both types.

yes... you could use chlordane... studies had shown that with a 1% mixture, you did not have a single case of termites coming back in 40 years...


Chlordane - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Heptachlor and chlordane are some of the most potent carcinogens tested in animal models. "


I put this in a trench on my sisters house when it was built 30+ years ago... to this day, if you go dig up the soil you can smell the chlordane... from what I also read, Heptachlor was much worse.... we used to use it for fire ants...
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:58 AM   #13
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I was gonna say pretty much what you said, but one thing that's different between Texas & Virginia is that many more Virginia home are built on sub-flooring rather than slabs. In most of Texas that I've been in, slabs are more common. It's easy enough to inspect the exterior of the slab & find termite tubes, and then to treat them yourself. Yes, some do come up like you said around the plumbing, through cracks etc, but on a sub-floor type foundation, there's a whole lot more opportunity for them to start eating undetected. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if I lived in a house with a crawl space underneath I might be tempted to go ahead & do the $360 a year thing. I'm no exterminator, and I guess maybe I'd just sleep a little better at night. The monthly treatments would at least reduce my chances of an all out infestation, and hopefully the periodic inspections would increase the odds that they'd be detected sooner rather than later. I don't know, but to me the $360 would be worth the peace of mind. That said, I've so far never owned a house on a sub-floor, but I grew up in one like that. My mom does pay a company to do regular treatments. She's 82 yrs old and if nothing else, it makes her feel better.
What is a "sub floor?" I have a basement that is underground, I have to walk up a stairwell from my basement to get to ground level, does that mean that I have a "sub floor?" and therefore the $360 would be worth it? Please kindly explain a little more. I am sorry I don't know much at all about these things. Thank you in advance.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:02 PM   #14
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Here in New Orleans, when you put your house on the market part of the disclosure involves signing a form saying whether or not the house is under a termite contract. If it isn't, that would be a negative to a buyer here.

I didn't have mine under contract from 2005 (when Hurricane Katrina put my small termite company under about 15 feet of water for weeks) to 2010 (when the same termite company reinstated my contract, having struggled back from oblivion after a few years).

I never saw a termite during those five years and the termite inspector saw no evidence of any either. I am happy with my small, local termite company because the big guys (Orkin, Terminex, etc) charge about two or three times as much and I have never seen termites here. Termites are a huge problem in the French Quarter where the beautiful old historic homes are mostly wooden, but I live out in the suburbs where homes are brick.
How often do you have the small termite company come out to inspect your home? Thank you W2R for your reply.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:21 PM   #15
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How often do you have the small termite company come out to inspect your home? Thank you W2R for your reply.
Assuming no past history of termite infestation, they inspect once a year to keep the contract current (same as the "big guys" around here like Terminex or Orkin). The difference is that I only have to pay $95 for the annual inspection. I guess the big guys charge around $250 or so for their yearly inspection. I don't remember exactly how much they charge so maybe I am exaggerating, but I do remember it was a lot more.

Also, if I see any evidence of termites all I have to do is give them a call and they will come running, of course.
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