Sunday, May 31, 2009

Maintenance Closer to Home

Where have I been? I've been doing my part to stimulate the economy and keep California's construction workers on the job by taking care of my house. It all started with my annual termite inspection. The guys who did the inspection said that there was so much wood damage that they could no longer tell what was old termite destruction and what was new. They recommended tenting and replacing all the damaged wood. I opted to have all wood replaced and postpone the tenting until next year. After all, if I replaced all or most of the wood, why bother tenting first? And I wanted to have the whole outside of the house painted when they were done. I couldn't afford to do it all. They agreed to wait until next year to see what new damage there might be before tenting and meanwhile they would spot treat any live termite infestations that they found.

We are so fortunate here in California to have two kinds of termites to contend with—the usual subterraneans who get their moisture from the soil, plus dry wood termites who get their moisture directly from the wood. Apparently, they both enjoy our Mediterranean weather as much as we do. My son in Arizona has no problem. It's both too hot and too cold for them there. I have lived in this house for almost 40 years. We had the house tented once in the 80s and have had annual inspections ever since so I knew I had damage from both kinds of termites. It was time to do something about it.

Once they started to work, the carpenters found more damage than they anticipated, but they only found two or three places with active termites in them, thank goodness. The photo above shows the kinds of tube-shaped paths the dry wood termites make while the photos on the left and up top show damage from the subterraneans. (Yucky, I know.) The subs build tubes of mud up from the ground which you can sometimes see. The presence of dry woods is harder to determine. In some cases, a piece of wood looked perfectly sound from the outside, but when they cut it, they found termites at work on the inside. As you can see in the photo, the beasties very cleverly avoid the edges and do most of their damage in the center of the wood. Their presence becomes apparent when you find their detritus falling down on you!

The guys who did the work were excellent. There were five of them and all knew what they were doing and worked together well. They finished the job in less time than was predicted, too. Then it was time for the painters. Stay tuned...


  1. OMG, I feel your pain. Mark and I used to wonder how each other made such neat volcano-shaped piles of sand in our bedroom. It turned out to be piles of termite refuse that they dumped out of tiny, almost undetectable holes in our hardwood floors.

    We caved and tented the house. We have to replace the fence all around. I wish I like the look of fake wood or stucco fences.

  2. I solved the problem with vinyl. I bought vinyl gates to replace the redwood gates that had just fallen apart. I love them! I got the natural cedar finish. They are guaranteed for a lifetime, never need to be painted, and look great--close enough to real wood to suit me. The company was Vinyl Solutions.