Termite & Moisture Inspections

If you haven’t had your house checked for termites and moisture in the past year or so, you’d probably play chicken with trucks, hug rattlesnakes and sass John Wayne given the chance. I put it off until I saw a house built in 1978 drop from $120,000 in value to $70,000 because of moisture and termite damage. That’s scary.

Having an annual termite inspection contract may protect you from termites but it won’t do much for moisture. In fact most exterminating companies have clauses releasing them from any liability if there is excessive moisture present.

Excessive moisture fosters fungal growth (though only one, the Mycelia whatever, is actually harmful to wood) and may cause wood rot besides.

The cure for termites is poison but the cure for moisture is a bit more complicated. Opening foundation vents during warm weather, putting enough sand beneath the house to raise the crawl space at least level to the outside ground level and covering the sand/dirt in the crawl space with polyethylene will help reduce moisture levels.

Every exterminating company will provide a free inspection, but recommendations of what you need will range from nothing to the equivalent of rebuilding the Taj Mahal.

Your best protection is to get two inspections and compare. A lot of the judgements, particularly regarding moisture and moisture damage, are subjective and open to conniving by a sharp salesman.

You should go along under the house with the inspector. It’s a well-known fact that goblins and other messy characters live under our houses, and so we don’t much like going under there, which allows the salesman who inspects your house (he calls himself an inspector, but he’s really a salesman, trust me) to take liberties with descriptions of problems without fear that you may go see for yourself.

Go see. Have him explain what he sees as you crawl around down there. Most of it is common sense and if he can’t explain it so you can understand it, there probably isn’t an explanation, so you should get out before he does, and lock him up down there to protect the rest of us.

Be prepared for wild differences in pricing. Some of the highest are the well-known national companies and some of the local outfits are populated by thieves and cheats. If any recommends structural repairs, get an estimate from an independent contractor who has nothing to do with any termite companies.

If the two recommendations are far apart, get a third one, they’re free.

If you’d like some opinions on termite companies, costs and goblins call me. I’ll be glad to pass along the names of some people I’ve had good results with and those I don’t trust too. But don’t wait. The termites don’t wait, and there isn’t a lazy one in the bunch.


  1. Termite Inspection says:

    Nice and very informative post. Pest control is a key measure that should be taken care in every residential as well as commercial building. Pests, primarily termites attack the wood in such a manner that it is destroyed within and you are never aware of. Thanks again for writing such a good stuff.

  2. Schafer says:

    I have had a contract with an exterminating co for 20 yrs. I have a termite/moisture inspection every yr. Fully disclosed moisture damage was not detected by any of the tech’s and now I have termite infestation. Had the tech’s done their job in notifying the or proper chemical application we could have replaired damged wood and wouldn’t have the termite infestation. What can I do to get the co to pay for the repairs?

  3. Alan Keffer says:

    Unfortunately, most termite contracts do not include damage from moisture…ie, fungus and suchlike. However, if the damage is from termites then your contract should include provision for the provider of the annual contract to repair any damage caused by termites and additional treatment as needed.

    I suggest 1) read your service contract so you know exactly what is agreed (may need a magnifying glass) 2) call another pest control company for a second opinion and 3) if the original company is indeed bound by contract then bring claim in small claims court and report to the state consumer folks and Virginia Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services who regulate pest control companies. These reports can be done on-line and the companies do not like getting investigation calls from the regulator.

    Alan Keffer

  4. Ameila B says:

    Those are some pretty nasty pics! I would hate to have termites! Thanks for the warnings!

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Alan M. Keffer | Broker | 409 Slate Street | Chesapeake, Virginia | 23322
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