The Complete Guide to Termite Inspections (2022)

By Sarah Horvath

Termite Inspection Guide

Having termites in your home is not just something you can ignore or put off. Termites can and do cause structural damage to your home — and if you don’t get a termite inspection ASAP, it’s only a matter of time before you will see the effects of their presence. The average termite infestation costs $3,000, and termites do more than $30 billion worth of damage each year. If there are enough of them, you may even be able to hear them chomping on the wood in your porch or walls or wherever they’ve made their home. 

Fixing long-term damage from termites can be exponentially more expensive than eliminating them using a pest control company. If you even suspect a hint of termite activity, it’s time for a termite inspection.

Termite Inspection Process

How can you get started with getting a termite inspection? The first step is contacting a pest control company that handles termite extermination. Some of the biggest names in termite elimination are Orkin and Terminix. You can look at several companies to see which ones are available in your area. Some may even perform a home inspection for free if you mention that you suspect termites. 

Once you’ve made your selection from several pest control companies, you need to schedule your home inspection. For this home inspection (which will determine if termites are found inside your home), you will also need to be present so that the exterminator can do a thorough inspection in places with suspected termite activity. You also need to make certain tiny spaces easily accessible for the home inspector. You’ll want to move anything blocking the crawl space under your home or restricting access to any corner of the attic. The space under your sink is another potential termite haven, so make sure that area is open and easy to reach. Make sure each corner and cranny is accessible to the inspector so that they can do the most thorough job possible without any hassle.

A termite inspection should take less than an hour, but depending on the size of your house and how easy you make it to get to certain spots in your home, it could take longer. The inspector is looking for tell-tale signs of drywood termites and subterranean termites — both are dangerous to the structure of your home. Drywood termites are wood-destroying organisms, literally consuming wood framing and beams, which can become hazardous as they eat away at wooden supports. Subterranean termites live underground and can compromise your home’s foundation because of the tunnels they dig and mounds they construct. 

When the termite inspector completes their inspection, they will report their findings to you and recommend next steps. If they find evidence of termite activity, they will recommend specific termite treatment and provide you with a quote. Don’t be surprised if you sense urgency in their voice when they report their findings — termite infestation is a serious problem that you need to handle as soon as possible.

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What Termite Inspectors Look For

Termite control is so essential because, as a homeowner or renter, you will often not see the signs of termite activity until damage starts to show. This is why annual inspections for termites are so crucial — professional pest control companies know the signs to be aware of, and they can catch the problem before the damage has gone too far. So what are the signs the inspectors watch out for? If you notice any of these tell-tale signs of termite activity, call for professional termite control ASAP. 

Mud Tubes

Mud tubes are small tunnels of soil and wood stuck together by termite saliva, which are about the width of a pencil. This is one of the most obvious signs of subterranean termites, but just because these don’t appear to be present doesn’t mean you are termite-free. There may still be plenty of underground activity, excluding mud tubes, that are visible to the naked eye. Remember that drywood termites don’t create mud tubes, so you may still have issues with drywood termites even if you’re free of subterranean termites.

Frass

Hello, termite droppings! “Frass” is the professional term for termite excrement, which you’ll find plenty of when you have a termite infestation. What does frass look like and where can you find it? If you see small, granular oval-shaped pellets near windowsills, baseboards, door frames, or other cracks and tiny openings in your home, that is a sure sign of termite activity. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be easy to miss, but in order to be aware of a potential termite problem, frass is an obvious sign you can look for.

Wood Damage

Both of the major types of termites cause damage to wood, burrowing into it and causing the wood to lose its structural integrity, but it can also take on a cracked or rippled appearance. The first thing you can do is knock on the area you’re inspecting to check for damaged wood. If the sound is hollow, that’s bad news. You can more thoroughly check for termite damage by poking the affected site with a screwdriver — this will confirm the presence of termites by revealing their characteristic tunnels.

Evidence of Swarms

Swarming is when hive insects like termites leave as a group altogether to search for a new home, or in this case, a new piece of human real estate in which to wreak havoc. This is a behavior exhibited by subterranean termites, and when it happens, the individual termites shed their wings, leaving them behind. If you find huge piles of discarded termite wings, it’s time to call a termite control company.

Live Termites

What does a termite look like? Many people think that since they can cause such serious damage they must be quite large insects, but that isn’t true. In fact, termites are about the size of flying ants. Unlike flying ants, which are dark in color, termites have a creamy-white color, making them easy to distinguish. Flying ants also have bent antennae, whereas termites have straight ones. Termites, like flying ants, have two sets of wings; however, they are all equal in length, while flying ants’ front set of wings are larger than the back set. Finally, termites are chunkier than flying ants, having a thicker middle and body overall.

Types of Termites

There are two types of termites to be aware of — subterranean termites and drywood termites. Both have different ways of causing damage to your home, but both are equally formidable in the damage they cause. The main differences between drywood and subterranean termites are their size and the fact that subterranean termites must have contact with soil in order to live.

Subterranean Termites 

Subterranean termites are often found near the foundation of your home, and the most obvious sign of their presence is the mud tubes they leave behind. The mud tubes are important structures for the subterranean termites because they connect wood to the soil, protect them from potential predators, and keep the termites from getting dehydrated. This need for humidity and damp soil means subterranean termites thrive in warm Southern states. These termites consume wood going with the grain of the wood, so if you inspect the wood in your home with a screwdriver, you will see the signs of subterranean termite damage. These termites are responsible for about ninety-five percent of termite damage in the United States.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites do not need much moisture or connection to soil to survive and even thrive. They can be found mostly in attic wood, where it’s warm and dry. Drywood termites are lighter in color than subterranean termites. The most obvious outward sign of drywood termites (besides damaged wood) is their frass, mentioned above. If you only have subterranean termites, you may not ever see the frass since they use it to build mud tubes. However, drywood termites push their frass out of the holes they make in dry wood, and it can look like granules of sawdust. Drywood termites are found mostly in the Southwest and along coastal areas.

Areas to Inspect for Termites

Where do termites like to settle down in your home? Drywood termites need wood to be comfortable and don’t need much moisture. Subterranean termites enjoy humidity and need soil contact as well as contact with wood. Let’s explore some of these potential termite havens that you might find in your home. 

Garage

If you use your garage as a storage space, it most likely has acquired moisture and dampness over time. This attracts termites because they need moisture to live, and they don’t need much to form a swarm. Any small amount of moisture or humidity collecting in your garage is enough to attract them, which can cause serious problems to your home’s drywall where your garage connects to your home. 

Attic

Drywood termites favor the attic because it’s made of wood and the humidity level is bearable for them. Drywood termites don’t require much moisture to survive, and attics can become exceptionally dry during the summer seasons. Pest control services know that because of this, the attic is one of the most common parts of the home to find termites in. 

Crawl Spaces

Because of the high humidity in a home’s crawl space, it’s a perfect getaway for subterranean termites. It combines everything they need to thrive — wood, soil, and moisture.

Cracks

Since termites may not be able to enter your home without these cracks, any crack provides an entryway for termites either into your home or within its foundation.

Anything Made from Wood

Both drywood and subterranean termites consume wood. Subterranean termites use it for building their protective mud tube structures, while drywood termites simply eject it as waste once they’ve digested it. Wood attracts termites.

Structures

This includes things like decks, arbors, carports, and wooden sheds. Anything made of wood that termites can access is fair game.

Deadwood

Deadwood is discarded tree limbs and leaves from your yard. Dispose of this as soon as possible because this is a perfect attractant for termites.

Wood Fences

Wood fences act as a trail of proverbial breadcrumbs for termites — once they find this source of wood, they can munch their way straight to your home.

Firewood

Piles of firewood close to your home can be another way to attract and lure termites right into your dwelling. If you have firewood on your property, make sure it is not anywhere near the walls of your home. Elevating it onto a platform can help to discourage termite activity in your firewood pile.

Wood Mulch

Again, this is a pile of lunch for termites. If you need to use mulch, think about non-wood alternatives, like rubber mulch or even rock or gravel.

Calling A Professional Pest Control Home Inspector

If you notice any signs of termite activity in your home, it’s important that you call for termite control services as soon as you can. If not addressed early, termite infestations can require intensive treatments like fumigation to correct. While DIY services and treatments may help you mitigate the damage caused by termites, working with a professional termite control service will provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan to correct the issue where it stems from — and ensure that termites don’t return after they’re killed off.

With so many services offering termite control solutions for your home and landscaping, how can you know which company is best for your needs? You may want to consider the following recommended pest inspection assistance providers — you might even be able to schedule a free termite inspection if you aren’t sure if you have these creepy critters in your home or on your lawn

Terminix

Best Overall

  • Offers a Terminix Promise™† (visit site for additional details) and an extended work guarantee for those experiencing a commercial pest problem
  • Provides online chat services
  • Available in 47 states

our rating9.8

Terminix Review

Alongside Orkin, Terminix is one of the longest-operating pest control services in the United States. With more than 90 years of experience in the pest control industry, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company with as wide of a reach and more experience than Terminix. If you prefer to meet with a pest control company representative in person before booking your appointment, you’ll have no trouble finding a local Terminix location to visit. Terminix’s network spans more than 300 individual locations, and each location can handle all of the most common pests you might see in your home. 24/7 customer service is also available — so you can get help when you need it.

Click here to get in-touch with Terminix for a no-obligation quote.

Orkin

Best Emergency Service

  • Several decades of pest control experience
  • Specializes in residential extermination
  • Top tier termite exterminator services

our rating9.6

Orkin Review

Orkin provides a massive range of pest control services — their team can eradicate everything from ants to mosquitos and from ticks to crickets. Orkin can be a great choice if you’re particularly concerned about the team’s effectiveness visiting your property, as the company employs a strict expert training program before sending new employees out on any job. Before your Orkin representative visits your property, they must pass through Orkin’s nationally recognized pest control training program. This can be a major benefit if you’ve worked with a less effective pest control company and are now looking to ensure top-quality service. 

Click here to get in-touch with Orkin for a no-obligation quote.

Compare The Top Pest Control Companies

Provider Terminix Orkin
Free quote Click here Click here
Our take Our review Our review
BBB rating B+ A+
Annual cost $550-$700 $575
Availability 45 states 46 states

Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs I have termites?

There are several signs you may have termites, either subterranean, drywood, or even both. If you see sawdust-like granular particles near wooden structures like door frames, baseboards, or window sills, that is frass, and it is termite excrement. If you knock on the wood in your home and it sounds hollow, that’s one of the biggest indicators of a termite infestation. Bubbling paint is also an indicator of termites trying to access the drywall under the paint and get moisture that may collect there. Call a pest company offering termite control services immediately if you notice any of these signs.

What chemicals kill termites?

Pyrethroid insecticide is typically used nowadays to kill termites. It’s a pesticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower and it’s a white powder applied where the termite nests and frass are. Fipronil is another pesticide, a strong chemical that annihilates termites on contact. It’s usually in liquid form and sprayed to apply. Hexaflumuron is termite bait used in termite traps to attract and then poison them.

How did I get termites in my home?

It really could happen to anyone. Most of the time, subterranean termites enter your home (or the wooden structures of your home) through wood-to-soil contact. This can happen anywhere wood comes into direct contact with termite-rich soil. If there are cracks in your home’s foundation, termites will use that opportunity as a point of entry as well.

What is the fastest way to get rid of termites?

While there are DIY methods of termite elimination that you may be tempted to try, the fastest and most effective way to get rid of termites is to hire a professional pest or termite control company like Terminix to get rid of your infestation. They have the specialized tools, chemicals, and experience required to quickly and thoroughly eliminate your termite problem.

How much does it cost to get rid of termites?

On average, a termite extermination treatment can cost around $600 in the US. Some plans are cheaper depending on the size of the infected area and the extent of the infestation. If your home has an extensive termite population, the cost can even go up to around $1,000. Any termite elimination treatment is more affordable than fixing the damage they cause to your home.

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