It is estimated that termites cause billions of dollars worth of damage in the United States annually. While they primarily feed on wood, they can also damage books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filters. They can wreak havoc on trees and shrubs and are particularly fond of plants that are in bad health. Termites can infest buildings at any time. This can be particularly troublesome when buying or selling a home. A termite inspection and report are usually required as a condition of sale of a home.
Because they slowly eat away at the wood inside your home, often without your knowledge, termite damage often severely impacts the structural integrity of your home. Termite colonies can take 3 to 5 years to fully mature. While there is no accurate way of calculating the exact age of an infestation, there are ways to make accurate predictions of their age. It can take anywhere from 3 to 8 years for termite damage to show up depending on the size of the colony.
There is no central agency that monitors or tracks termite damage data. Many pest control companies report their data to state agricultural and academic experts but there is no system in place for uniform tracking across the country. Therefore, most damage cost estimates are based on estimates. It is estimated that:
- Approximately 600,000 homes are damaged by termites in the US each year
- $5 billion dollars are spent annually by US residents to control termites and repair damage
- At least $1 billion dollars are spent on Formosan termite control and repairs each year, although some experts estimate it is closer to $2 billion (according to the USDA)
One question many homeowners have is if termite damage is covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately in most cases the answer to this question is no. Homeowner’s insurance typically does not cover termite damage or removal because it can usually be prevented through routine home maintenance. However, you should always check with your insurance provider to see what you are and are not covered for.
The cost of repairs varies greatly from case to case and is dependent on a variety of factors such as how much wood the termites have eaten, how long the colony has been in the home, and where the damage was done inside the home. Repairs can often be more expensive than the original building costs, often in the thousands of dollars. In rare cases termite damage can be so extensive that the home is completely demolished.
In addition to the structural repairs that have to be made, cosmetic repairs also have to be made. Termites can cause discoloration and other damage to sheetrock, flooring and paint which will also need repair or replacement. The cost of these will vary on an individual basis but some repairs will be more costly than others, e.g. replacing hardwood floors versus floor tiles.
Exterminator costs also have to be factored in as the termites have to be controlled and eliminated before any repairs can be done. The costs will vary depending on your termite control professional but will usually include the cost of chemicals and baits, labor, and service and can vary based on your location and the type of termite treatment you choose.
Termites can be prevented with scheduled periodic professional inspections which can help identify signs of infestations earlier, keeping damage minimal and repair costs down. Any professional termite control plan should eliminate termites, prevent future termite infestations, and prevent termite damage. If you suspect you have a termite problem or want to have an inspection done to check for termites, contact us for a free estimate.