Another termite situation

Background: My house is 15 years old in NC. We have owned the house since it was built. The infestation is in the garage although I have seen evidence of something on the other end of the house (more on that later). Under the house, the ground is a good two feet or more from the joists but in the garage, it is only 6 inches from the garage floor. The garage floor is sloped so it gets closer to the joists as you go toward the back of the garage. The termites are coming up between the garage floor and foundation and building their tunnels up the brick to the joists. On the garage wall (as well as the rest of the house) is the black vapor barrier partical type stuff (I don't know what it is called). This is used all around the house, instead of sheathing, under the siding. This is exposed on the garage wall. The termites either love this stuff or it is a good medium for them to tunnel in. Now, the story about the other end of the house. This part of the house is a good 4 feet off of the ground. Under the house, the ground is further away. I haven't seen any tunnels except for in the garage. Anyway, I had a water leak (long story about a self inflicted homeowner project) which caused the siding to rot away. It was an extremely slow leak estimated to have gone on for about 4 years. Eventually, it started to rot the siding and became noticeable. I tore the siding off, the black vapor barrier and insulation out to find the leak. Under the black barrier appeared to be places where bugs had a snack on the framing. This was very minor. I have never seen any tunnels other than in the garage on the opposite end of the house. First question: Could the termites have traveled that far within the house or through this black stuff? Back to the garage. I decided to remove the black stuff from the garage wall and replace with drywall. A lot of this stuff just crumbled. Before this, I had to do some garage cleanup just to get to the wall. There were a couple more tunnels found but appeared to be inactive (it's winter). There were places up a couple of studs where the termites had climbed. There were also a couple of small areas in the rim joists that looked honeycombed and there were "dirt" clumps on the inside of the joist under the house. It didn't look like there were significant damage. What is bothering me most is how the steps in the garage are built. It appears that the black stuff was put on, and then the steps were built. The rim joists are less than a foot from the garage floor but there are two brick steps up to the kitchen door. The brick steps are against this black stuff. There is some flashing between the steps and the black stuff. When I pulled the top part away, the black stuff felt moist and of course had evidence of termites. I couldn't tell if they were active but it concerns me that the black stuff was moist. It has been 20 degrees at night here lately and the garage is not heated. There are no water pipes at this particular location so a water leak wouldn't have caused this. Questions: 1) Do termites really like this black stuff or is it just an easy medium to tunnel in? 2) I was drywalling for looks but was also wanting a less easy medium for the termites. Is drywall better? I was planning to put plastic over the studs and insulation under the drywall. 3) What to do about the steps? In order to remove the black stuff and replace with drywall, it appears that the steps will have to be broken up and removed. Are the steps providing a nice hidden way for termites to get into the house? During winter even? Is it advisable to remove the steps and replace with treated wood steps? Or do you think I only need to get the area around the steps treated (obviously I need the whole house treated) and just remove what I can of the black stuff and drywall around the steps. An even bigger concern is where my hotwater sits. It is in the garage and sits upon a brick pedestal {sp?). The garage floor is only inches away from the joists and the pedestal is a couple feet tall. My fear is that this pedestal was built like the steps and covers over part of the black stuff (I need to do some more cleaning before I can determine this). If that is the case, there is probably a much larger area that has the potential for termites and will pose a much larger problem with getting rid of the black stuff. Any suggestions? Thanks
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
clipped

I don't know what the "black stuff" is, but termites eat cellulose. Paper (as in "the covering on drywall"), wood, leaves, bark. They can have multiple entries, the favorites being openings for plumbing and electrical service, uncaulked openings around doors and windows, and the easiest - openings in foundations at or close to the soil. They dislike sunlight (all varieties of termites), so come directly from the ground through mud tubes or between layers of material (subterraneans). Drywood and dampwood termites swarm, and the mating forms enter all kinds of openings to find CELLULOSE. The can also be carried in infested moveables, like furniture but I think that is relatively unusual.
Get a couple of good, licensed and insured professional pest control contractors in to inspect and advise. In the meantime, take a look at your county or state extension service website for info about the dominant varieties in your locale. Also take a look at your construction contract for info about soil perimeter treatment during construction to see if there is a warranty - probably too long ago but worth a look.
There have been some major disasters in Florida because of poor building practices, one, especially, in a sub-div with most homeowners having to come up with many thousands of dollars to repair water damage. Florida has past issues with improper application of the liquid barriers applied at construction which are supposed to keep critters out.
If your bugs are all subterranean, the contractor will probably recommend bait system. Read up on them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@swofford.net says... :) First question: Could the termites have traveled that far within the :) house or through this black stuff?
They have the ability to, but more than likely wouldn't. :) Back to the garage. I decided to remove the black stuff from the :) garage wall and replace with drywall. A lot of this stuff just :) crumbled. Depending on what the vapor material is made from may determine if they are feeding on it or just traveling past it. If you just covered the wall with sheetrock, without another moisture barrier, the condensation that builds up in the wall may also ruin the sheetrock. :) :) Questions: :) 1) Do termites really like this black stuff or is it just an easy :) medium to tunnel in? Depends on what it is, I have seen a black barrier that almost felt cork like that termites did feed on. :) 2) I was drywalling for looks but was also wanting a less easy medium :) for the termites. Is drywall better? I was planning to put plastic :) over the studs and insulation under the drywall. They will eat the paper off of the sheetrock.
:) 3) What to do about the steps? In order to remove the black stuff and :) replace with drywall, it appears that the steps will have to be broken :) up and removed. Are the steps providing a nice hidden way for termites :) to get into the house? During winter even? Is it advisable to remove :) the steps and replace with treated wood steps? Or do you think I only :) need to get the area around the steps treated (obviously I need the :) whole house treated) and just remove what I can of the black stuff and :) drywall around the steps.
Assuming the crack you have noticed from the floor and foundation runs under the steps, it will hide them entering. Depending on what you use may determine the success. The older termiticides basically repel them from where they are at, so they could move over a few feet (inches) away from the treated soil and start again. The newer products Termidor and Phantom are non repellant and through the mode of action use the termites themselves to kill out the colony, though by having it sparsely put out only where the termites are may or may not keep them out. But many companies do use Termidor in a manner that does not do as much treatment as would be needed for the older termiticides, and still warrant the whole house as if it where. :)
--


Lar. (to e-mail, get rid of the BUGS!!



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@swofford.net (Robert) wrote in message

It's possible you have two kinds of termites. Research the web for clues. I've had termites in gyp board. The removals you discuss are too complex for me to understand.
Tom Baker Charleston
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The "black stuff" is likely a composite board, used under siding. Termites don't eat it but it's not hard to tunnel through. Either that or you're descibing tar paper.

Termites eat the paper in drywall backing, and don't mind a bit if they have to pass insulation or find holes in plastic.

None of these are even concerns. Termites will simply build tunnels where they can't burrow.

Call three local pest control companies and ask for a free termite inspection and quote.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Right, the black stuff is insulation sheathing. It's about 1/2" thick in 4'x8' or larger sheets, black tar paper like on one side, and the rest is some kind of fiber, maybe cellulose. You can find it at HD with other sheathing like the 1/2" blue styrofoam sheathing. Termites appear to eat it since there is not much left where they have been.
Anyway, I know that I need termite treatment in a bad way.
The big question is whether or not to remove the brick steps (which come up above the brick foundation and covers part of the sheathing and joists) and replace with something (pressure treated steps) that can be moved periodically for inspection and won't give a large cover area. Or should I just have it treated and inspect the surrounding area? I think the same will have to be done for the hot water heater pedestal since it is brick and covers even more of the joists and sheathing.
So far, there isn't much damage to the house...where I've looked. I need to look under the house opposite the steps and hot water heater to make sure there isn't serious damage there.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@swofford.net (Robert) wrote:

Why ruin a perfectly good set of brick steps? And if I recall right, CCA (green-treated) lumber is having some public image problems these days regarding the chemicals used to treat it. Not only that, but a basic wood porch really doesn't hold a candle to a wood one in terms of curb appeal unless you get really expensive about things, IMO. Your problem is not the steps or the part of the house that meets the steps. Your problem seems to be that you have an inadequate shelter/draiinage/waterproofing over that spot which allows rainwater to constantly permeate the joint and wet the building material of the house itself. Once you tear out and replace the siding stuff that's now all moist, try investing in better gutters, a wider awning, or caulk the joint properly (whichever works in your situation) and inspect the caulk seal regularly and repair accordingly to keep the rainfall out.
AJS
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The steps are inside the attached garage, almost halfway, leading into the kitchen. There is no moisture (rain water) getting to the steps without flowing 12 feet from either direction. The ground under the house opposite the foundation from the steps is dry, even at least a foot lower elevation. Obviously there is moisture. Where I found termites in the insulation sheathing, the sheathing was damp even though it was dry all around. I wonder if the same is happening here. Would termites be active this time of year with 20-40 degree temps?
I would hate to tear up the steps. I can treat for termites but it will be harder to detect if(more like when) they return. The same issue may apply where the hot water heater is since that brick pedestal is much taller and larger.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.