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TERMITES!?

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Joined: Feb 1 2004

Hi everyone,

We bought our Eichler in October and now must rid ourselves of TERMITES! We have a Quincy Jones centrally pitched roof 5-bedroom model in Thousand Oaks, with landscaping in the atrium we would really hate to lose.

No termite treatments have been done here for at least two years, and until I saw the sawdust frothing from a hole in the shower window exterior frame there had been no definite indicators of termite infestation, just some possible droppings (1-2 flakes) noted by the former owner in two areas. We have a new and excellent paint job which I know is one of the best defenses against termites.

Questions:
Does anyone know an Eichler-friendly pest control in the Thousand Oaks area?
Is tenting the best option for thorough removal? Or will heat treatments do an adequate job?
If we tent, is there any way to save our atrium landscaping? (We have a tree and perimeter plantings.)

HELP!
and thanks,
Julia

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Hmmm, are you sure it is termites and not carpenter ants? I thought the diff was that termites (not the subterranean types, those flying buggers) ate wood while the carpenter ants burrowed in it, hence, leaving trails of sawdust.

t

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Joined: Jan 4 2004

I really would not get too excited about the termites; if you found the little droppings inside your house, that is usually indicitive of drywood termites or carpenter ants (as Ujipster suggested). The most damaging termites are subterranian termites; they work in 72 hour shifts, and they really like framing and mohogany paneling (yum); they will really cause serious damage within a year or two (I've seen a front 4X12 eave beam laying on the driveway- it had fallen right off!!). Dampwood termites are usually present where there is dry rot fungus already present, and sometimes in really damp crawl spaces. Carpenter ants nest in wood and eat termite larvae; they usually leave soon after the food source is gone.
Drywood termites work very slowly, after several years will cause structural damage, and almost every house that has untreated wood on the exterior will get a visit from these critters sooner or later (they have wings; maybe you have seen them swarming after a rainy day). Sometimes it is possible to treat drywood termites locally (without tenting) but you have to talk to your pest control guy and always ask specifically if they can be treated locally, it could save a couple thousand dollars or more.
Unfortunately, I don't know anyone in SoCal involved with building; check with structural pest control board, contractors state licence board, and Better Business Bureau. Have fun with your new houseguests!

renman

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Well, a lot had already been posted on this subject. I'll give you some highlights of my experience and then point you to the other postings.

- it's important to identify what beasties you have: drywood termite, subterranean termite, or carpenter ants. At one point or another you will probably run into all of them (as we have in our neck of the woods--willow glen, san jose)

- treatment is different for each of these: for drywood you can treat locally but would possibly tent with vicane gas (if not tented in last 5years); for subterranean you could treat local area but possibly inject termidor chemical around entire perimiter (can involve drilling through the cement slab); for carpenter, you can leave because no major harm to wood but possibly treat with chemical

- IMHO treating termites is not a do-it-yourself job. Get recommendations from neighbours or people on this board. (When you post your request for recommendation, ask them to send it to you direct off-board so as not to infringe on the site's policy)

- since you don't know what kind of termite they will find, try to narrow your companies to ones that have successfully treated subterranean termites in Eichlers since these are the most difficult. Then, if you later run into drywood, you can likely use the same company.

- as far as I can tell, state licensing (http://www.pestcontrol.gov) simply says a company is trained to handle the chemicals. It also tells you if there have been *successful* complaints and resulting displinary action. It doesn't say anything about whether the treatment that the termite company is promoting is effective: heat treatment, microwave, chemicals, singing them to sleep... so do your own research

- lots of info on the web on these pests. UC Davis has a pest control center and some good information. Read it.

- be aware that the termite companies inspection report is public information that anyone can ask for up to 2 (might be 3 years) from the date of the inspection. So when you get the report, make sure it's accurate.

Some links:

UC Davis
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7415.html

Eichler Network postings
http://www.eichlernetwork.com/messages/6890.html

Eichler Network "House Doctor" Barry Brisco's article:
http://www.eichlernetwork.com/HDpest1.html

Structural Pest Control Board
http://www.pestboard.ca.gov/

Good luck. Post on your progress and with any additional questions.

Jake

P.S. I believe reported Category 1 damage by drywood termites "requires" repair by licensed contractor--ask the Pest Control Board on this. Apparently subterranean termite damage doesn't dictate who/what gets done.

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

I forgot to ask the most obvious question. Did you have a termite report done as part of your pre-purchase inspections? If so, then talk to your real estate agent about the best way to proceed.

Also, you might want to contact the Pest Control Board (link in previous posting) to request any inspections done on your house that the Board still has (last 2 years) If you find an inspection was done which reported damage and the owners didn't disclose, you might have a basis for claiming the repair costs.

Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Jan 4 2004

Actually, subterranean termites vary rarely leave, droppings behind; nor have I ever seen that from dampwood termites.
Jake does raise an interesting point aboput the pest report.
It is my undrstanding that you may opt not to have your visit from a termite repair company result in a documented report. If you discovered these droppings subsequent to your occupation of the house (and there fore, likely do not have a report documenting this condition), perhaps your warranty could cover this unfortunate situation (call your agent).
Also the good news is Structural Pest Control Board, (and my local building department agrees with this), is that repairs to the structure for termite damage (not dry rot or other fungus damage) is required if less than 70% of the structual member is intact (such as a stud or ceiling tongue and groove plank). Which raises another point- if the termites were there only since October, they could not have done much damage, and if the were there prior to your purchasing the home, the pest company that inspected the home should have errors and ommission's insurace; or it is a disclosure issue with the previous owner (who may have not noticed the little droppings of sawdust).
Either way I suggest giving your agent a call, (unless you bought the house as is, no warranty, no reports, owner died etc., then you probably are a an expeinced contractor or developer with a keen sense of adventure, and don't need advise from a GC posting on the web).
Last concernig your atrium-
You can have the structure tented in such a manner that they cover the atrium in the treatment; the various types of termiticides won't kill your plants right away, and they usually pull the tent of in a day or two (remember, ask them if they will warranty a localized treatment. If they will, it will save you thousands of dollars).

renman

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

We just finished "phase I" of our remodel on our 4 bedroom/2 bath Eichler in Palo Alto. Phase 1 was the first two bedrooms and everything was clean- no termites or dryrot. We just opened up the next two bedrooms (phase II) on Friday only to find subterrrean termites on the wall near the bathrooms. We will probably need to replace a couple of studs and maybe the bathroom wall that includes these studs. All in all, it doesn't appear really bad- Lucky we caught it but nevertheless distressing. I have the following questions:

1. The infestation is near the hall bathtub where there is about a 1.5 foot wide hole around the sewer drain. The area appears to be dirt. Why is there a dirt area exposed and not filled with concrete. Others say this is the case with all Eichlers they have seen. I suppose this makes it easier to inject to the soil below but also entrance area for termites?

2. Can anyone recommend a good Termite company near Palo Alto, CA? I think I am engaged with a good one (Hurricane Pest) but may want to get a second opinion (per Jake's suggestion).

3. Any suggestions on what is the latest and greatest treatment? I read on the UC Davis post about either a sand or Al mesh you can put in entrance areas that prevents the termites from coming back- they can't rebuilt their tunnels through it. Has anyone had experience with this?

Any other suggestions appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Lynn

Joined: Mar 2 2004

There is a lot of confusion over termites. We see this when homes are sold. Lately, we have seen good results with one company that has been able to adequately explain your treatment options. There are a lot of ways to kill termites. I don't like tenting. Tenting is an option when there is evidence of infestation. The evidence will still be there for the next inspection. You are guaranteed the need to tent again or replace the infected area later. There would have to be a large penalty for replacement of the wood for tenting to make sense.
About twice a year we find that termites have created a leak. Since 1981 we have installed over 2,000 roofs in Palo Alto alone. The little guys go from the ground to the roof structure, eat through the old tar roof, then the foam roof, leaving a small hole. We never see more than a couple holes. We never have leaks through the foam on the flat open sections of Dura-Foam roofs. When a leak is reported in this type of area, we carefully examine the area for a tiny hole. Sections of our roof can be cut out with a skill saw to expose the bad wood. The wood is then replaced and roof reinstalled like pieces of a puzzle. The tiny gap is caulked. The norm is for the pest company to dig up a section of roof and throw it away...then call us. Always have a contractor call us before doing anything to the roof. We want you to have a pleasant, economical experience with you foam roof.

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Joined: Feb 1 2004

Dear Jake, renman, Ujipster and everyone else who gave our dilemna some thought,

A tardy update on the outcome of our termite issue in T.O.:

I called the president of the extermination company to have another look to be sure it was indeed termites, and when he pointed to a veritable pile of flakes under a beam I knew a tent was in our future.

99% of our plants made it beautifully -- the tree in the atrium barely lost any leaves, and we decided to temporarily transplant all of the perimeter planting to pots in the backyard which worked beautifully (despite a little shock). They needed a little pruning anyway!

All is well that ends well -- many thanks for all of the wonderful (and detailed!) advice.

Julia

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

We discovered wood pellets which we were told were from dry wood termites, a couple of years ago. Talked to several "big name" companies, and each suggested tenting. However, we have a Dura-Foam roof with our cold water pipes and the pipes from our baseboard heating system running across it. None of these vendors would guarantee that their work would be done without damage to our roof and the pipes running over it.

That did it for us. So here we sit. We found the entry and exit holes for one location and treated it locally with Term-Out. The critters moved and we now have another pile to deal with.

I am willing to do just about anything to avoid tenting. RANDY, would you mind sending me an e-mail with your vendor recommendations? We are in Willow Glen (San Jose). My e-mail is cathyelynn at earthlink dot net.

Thanks!

Cathye

Joined: Mar 2 2004

Cathye,
Your Dura-Foam roof cannot be hurt by all the activity of tenting. Pest companies fear roof leaks, and their 'disclaimers' show it. Most roofs are fragile and brittle (i.e. concrete may be more flexible than tar). Any damage a termite company might do to your roof, would be cosmetic and visible, and should be touched-up with any white exterior urethane caulk. The pipes are fairly fragile and more vulnerable. Damage to pipes and their insulation is unlikely. Damaged pipe repair may invole soldering, and possibly some minor excavating and cauking. Not much of a problem, or expense. When the termite company is dragging, connecting, fastening and securing their tent fabric all over your house, their focus is on the tent, not their feet. Plants, antennas, fragile items all suffer. Even though you may sign a statement that they are not responsible, they still have liability if they are negligent. (free legal advice). Hundreds of Eichlers with Dura-Foam roofs have been tented since we began in 1981. So far the damage has been 1. Several leaks where they nailed big spikes through the roof and neglected to seal the holes. 2. Damaged vent caps 3. Roof shingles pulled off 4. Scratched skylights 5. A few broken conduit connections. All in all, very little damage compared to the rest of the house.

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

The previous owners used a spot treatment before we moved into our house--however in 6 months the termites were back in force. We decided to have the house tented and since then haven't seen termites for 3 years. Because of the tenting a few of our plants close to the house died temporarily but came back to life and are doing very well now.
The carpenter ants have arrived recently but only in one or two spots so I think I will try a spot treatment there.
I have been told that carpenter ants don't like the scent of "Orange Clean" so I am going to use that on them.
Good luck!

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