I have an older neighbor in a 100 year old townhouse-style house who
gets termites every other year, which means I get termites every other
year. I have damaged joists under my kitchen. I was told by a flaky
contractor that we should get these replaced by metal joists to guard
against future damage. I have, let's guess, 12 joists at about 20
feet or shorter length.
Has anyone done this. Can you discuss cost? Is it a sane idea? I'd
like to decide whether or not to eliminate it as a possibility or hold
it in the back of my mind.
Seems like it would be alot cheaper to just install termite
shields. I don't know how far above grade your joists are,
but metal joists are expensive and unnecessary for termite
prevention. There are other methods that are more cost effective.
Seems a lot eaiser to me to just treat for the termites. They don't come
and go as you describe. Read up on termites, and call some termite experts
in for estimates. You can replace the joists, but what about all the stuff
the termites eat? They usually go after siding, the backside of sheetrock,
plywood, etc. etc. Not just joists.
What evidence is there every other year that termites have invaded?
What kind of termites?
What kind of treatment was done? When? What area of country?
For starters, your neighbor having termites does not mean that your home
is infested. If
termite treatment was done, there should be some kind of contract or
reinfestation/repair of damage.
As for metal joists, that seems like overkill, if you are sincerely
considering such. That
still leaves wall studs, roof rafters, etc. Have you researched termite
idea, because there are a great deal of relatively simple measures to
take to keep them
out.........closing up plumbing openings and other gaps in outer
surfaces, keeping tree
limbs and landscaping off wood parts of structure, keeping wood painted
checking for mud tubes inside and outside of foundations, keep roof
sound and dry,
maintaining at least 6" from soil to wood structural members.
Will people please read and respond to the situation of the OP. These are
100 year old ATTACHED houses. They may have as little as an 8" party wall
(now I'm making an assumption) between them. He is concerned about the
untreated termite situation in his neighbor's house because the joists in
that house probably butt up against his joists making for easy termite
passage. I agree that treatment and not metal joists is the best solution,
but this situation is far more complicated that all the previous respondents
From the OP: "...neighbor in a 100 year old townhouse-style house..."
What about the phrase "townhouse-style" makes you think it isn't
attached and shared wall?
I would presume the every other year happens because the neighbor treats
the symptoms after the infestation but hasn't done a thorough treatment
to remove the colony and by the second year there's enough to again
become a visible symptom...
The only real answer is to treat the whole complex thoroughly--anything
else will be a continuation of the status quo.
I've not read the rest but if they're townhouses there may be some
common deed restrictions/covenants that require cooperation in joint
situations which could help force the issue. At this age, however, it
would probably be relying upon a general city ordinance unless they were
at some time fairly recently refurbished and resold as a redevelopment.
For me, "townhouse-style" could mean simply a tall, narrow,
multi-story structure, not necessarily attached. But then, I'm fussy
about language and would infer attachment only if "-style" was removed
from the adjective.
Fussy about language on a usenet group? That's pretty futile isn't it? :)
I agree it surely isn't conclusive but I'd certainly not rule it out,
particularly based on the symptoms and other descriptions. My reply was
undoubtedly more strongly worded than really intended (that is as if it
were really conclusive).
Here is Merriam-Webster definition:
" a usually single-family house of two or sometimes three stories that
is usually connected to a similar house by a common sidewall;"
From the real estate dictionary at nationaltitlecompany.com:
"TOWNHOUSE - Originally a house in a city as opposed to a country
estate. More recently the term is applied to certain types of row
houses, whether planned unit developments or condominiums."
Now, what's the difference between a French basement and an English
All good advice.
Wow, I really didn't explain myself very well.
Naturally I have an exterminator, I presumed that was obvious, I had
I am getting 6 month termite inspections by an exterminator as part of
a "subscription" plan.
I use the term "Townhouse-style" because I know that townhouses are
more common in parts of the country. We have what is called a
rowhouse here, but is larger than a Baltimore or Philadelphia
rowhouse. It's big, it's old, and all the houses are attached
together. They're brick, but of course the joists are wood.
My joists that are attached to the wall that I share with this older
neighbor are hit by termites at the point where our houses meet. I
have been hit 4 times in ten years, so not literally every other year,
but it can seem like it.
Our exterminator put down a termite barrier, included drilling in our
basement where the two houses meet, but cautioned that if termites hit
my neighbors attic, let's say, the basement treatment may not matter
so much. For instance, we were fully treated but we had a carpet
beetle infestation in the attic. It's an old house, it's a battle.
The damaged joists were "sistered" with treated wood prior to us
buying the house. this has lasted for 10 years, but I plan to replace
the entire floor and subfloor in the kitchen but want to get cost
estimates first of course.
It seems that everyone agrees that metal joists are overkill. The
contractor who suggested them was, as I mentioned, flakey.
My guess would be that you never got rid of the termites. In addition
to means of entry mentioned
in earlier part of the thread, term's can reside in any cellulose
material - furniture, paper, cardboard
bosex, etc. Should be a way to treat the inside of that wall, but a
big, fat beam with termites
burrowed deep inside would be very tough to reach effectively.
Is the "termite barrier" the only treatment done? Tented? What product
was used for the barrier?
That might be great but could be the wrong product for drywood
termites. Do you have a local
extension service with info about local varieties of termites (they
aren't all one kind) and stats
on what is effective to use against them?
Steel beams might be worth thinking about, especially if your
extermination contract covers
repairs for recurrent infestations. Just a thought.
I certainly would not recommend metal framing as a retrofit just to
combat termites. If you are replacing damaged frame members, then I would
consider them and might even replace some non-damaged ones if the price were
right. If I were building new or adding on in a termite area, I would
likely go for metal framing.
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