Watch Out for These Five Termite Infestation Clues

06/02/2017 05:49 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2017

Termites are responsible for billions of dollars of damage every year. Since these pests feed on the wooden structure of buildings, their infestations can remain undetected for years. By the time their tunnels are visible on the exterior surfaces of wood, your home could be severely damaged. It's important to stay alert for more subtle clues that termites are present. To protect your home, watch out for these five termite infestation clues.

1. Loose Floor Tiles

If you feel your floor tiles shifting under your feet as you walk, your home may be infested with termites. When subterranean termites tunnel within your floor, they introduce moisture. This moisture can make some types of tiles buckle. Soft, pliable tiles may also become loose if the moisture makes their adhesives fail.

Heavier tiles like ceramic or porcelain can also feel loose due to termite damage. When termites eat the wood in your subfloor, the tiles no longer have the support they need. This makes the tiles feel wobbly when you walk across them.

2. Winged Termites Indoors

When a termite colony reaches maturity, winged termites leave to start new colonies. If you see them flying around inside your house, it's likely that you have an infestation!

The winged termites will die if they can't find a way out of your house. You may find dead termites on your windowsills or in other open areas around your home. Sinks and bathtubs are another common location to find dead termites. While they usually die with their wings attached, you may also find detached wings.

3. Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites need a lot more moisture than drywood termites, and they may dry out if they're exposed to the elements. When they leave their underground nests, they build mud tubes to keep themselves moist. These mud tubes are about the diameter of a pencil and are made of a combination of mud, saliva and their droppings (gross!).

You may see mud tubes on the exterior of your home. These tubes start at ground level and head up the walls; the termites use these tubes to get into your house safely.  You may also see drop tubes—free-standing mud tubes that let termites drop to the ground—in your crawlspace.

4. Termite Droppings

Droppings are another termite infestation clue to watch out for. Drywood termites produce dry, hard droppings. They absorb excess water from the droppings before they release them, giving the pellets a unique, six-sided appearance. You may see small piles of these droppings near or beneath infested wooden structures.

Subterranean termites produce very different droppings. Their droppings are moist and contain undigested wood. However, they recycle their droppings and use them to line their tunnels or to make mud tubes.

5. Water Damage

When termites nest in your home, they introduce moisture, and these high-moisture nests can damage the nearby area. This damage looks very similar to water damage. Of course, the treatment for a leaking pipe and a termite infestation are much different.

Watch out for signs that moisture is present, like peeling or bubbling paint. Wood may also take on a bubbled appearance due to moisture. You may also see stained areas on your walls or ceilings. If you see these signs, further investigation is definitely warranted!

To detect a termite infestation early, make sure to pay attention to these five termite infestation clues. Loose floor tiles, the presence of winged termites indoors, mud tubes, termite droppings and water damage are all warning signs of a serious problem.

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