July 14, 2019

Biggest home damage threat is not natural disasters


2019 NETAR President

 News video showing homeowners coping with a series of strong earthquakes are a somber reminder of the constant and varied threats to housing. Last weekend the focus was on Ridgecrest California. It was the epicenter of a 7.1 earthquake and experts warn this is a sequence that will likely see more temblors.

   As bad as this most current disaster is, neither fire, storms, tornadoes, nor earthquakes are the biggest threat to housing. That dubious distinction goes to the common termite. They do the damage you do not read about or watch on TV. The National Pest Management Foundation says they cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage a year in the United States.

   Termites are sometimes called the "silent destroyers and 24/7 pests" They earned the silent destroyer moniker because when you see the signs of infestation, they have already done their damage silently eating on your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure they do not eat a chunk out of your investment. 

   When termites devour dead trees in forests, they help recycle nutrients and make space for new plant life so they do have a purpose in the natural order of things. But once they start to eat the wood in your home, it's a whole new story. 

   Termites may take up residence in a home for years - even decades - before they are noticed. All the time, they are feasting away at the structure from the inside out - an average subterranean termite colony can consume a two-by-four per year.

  Older homes – like many of those in the Tri-Cities - where it's more likely that the foundation may have cracked, are especially prone to risk. But new homes aren't immune if pretreatments during construction aren't done correctly. When that happens termite, swarms can take hold as quickly as five years.

   The Department of Housing and Urban Development lists Tennessee in a moderate to heavy Termite Infestation Probability Zone. You can read the full HUD document on this zone and treatments by pointing your browser to:

   For a buyer, a termite inspection is insurance against the unexpected. Buyers should also check to see if the sellers already have a termite protection program in place - many do.

    For homeowners, inspections and preventative maintenance are important steps to ensure the safety and value of a home and its resale value. Many choose the annual pest control protection against uninvited guests as a good time the check for signs of termites.

  Here's a checklist that many home owners use to keep pests at bay:

   - Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes, and termites, are attracted to moisture.

   - Keep tree branches cut back. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.

   - Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.

   - Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

   You can find more information about termites, pest control and myriad other items and issues of interest to homeowners at It's a consumer service of local and national REALTORS® intended to demonstrate that homeowner-REALTOR® relationship extends beyond the core areas of buying and selling real estate.