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Quick Guide to Avoiding Termite Problems
In the wild, pest termites usually get by quite happily eating sickly trees or leftover bits of trees. And the safest, moist and tastiest bits to eat are usually underground or right in the middle of large pieces of timber. If your home/building/structure has big bits of wood that are damp and dark or close to the soil, then well . . . .

Subterranean & dampwood termites
Subterranean termites usually get about by tunneling underground and entering their food from below. Tree roots are usually attached to trees and termites often travel from root to root great distances underground (there's almost always a small air gap under a big root, so they don't even have to dig so hard). Timber waste buried around buildings usually leads to better food inside. Sometimes the termites just fly in and start up a fresh colony, but tunnelling is more common, because big bits of damp wood suitable for nesting are more often outside, not in. Dampwood termites don't tunnel nearly as much but can fly in just as easily.
Since the termites are most likely to try to get in via the soil, there are some simple things you can do:

Control moisture:

  • All types of termites need moisture. Keep your structure dry and well ventilated.
  • Ventilate all possible subfloor areas and ensure the vents are kept free and clear. Make sure you wet areas inside (kitchen/bathroom/dungeon) are well vented.
  • Fix all plumbing leaks. Particularly showers and baths. These often have leaks supplying constant moisture that makes the wood just right to be eaten.
  • Open drain leaks 2 soilCheck all gutters and down spouts, make sure that the water ends up well away from the house. Ideally down spouts should connect to stormwater drains. If you don't have these, at least redirect the water well away from the house. Down spouts which regularly splash near the structure may be supplying an irresistible source of moisture.
  • Avoid having gardens directly against walls--if you must do this, provide space for air movement between the vegetation and the wall and an inspection zone of at least 100 mm. Never have sprinklers wetting the soil near a building or deck. Termites have even been known to enter a building through branches touching walls.
  • Make sure that any paving is angled to drain surface water away from the structure. You'd be amazed how often this is done wrong. Some people even build outdoor paving higher than the interior floor level . . .
Be careful with timber in ground contact . . .