Specialist Termite Control – Victorian Pest Controller of the Year 2016!

VICTORIAN AWARD WINNER – PEST CONTROLLER OF THE YEAR – OUR THIRD AWARD IN THREE YEARS!

Specialist Termite Control are delighted to announce being awarded the AEPMA Pest Manager of the Year Award 2016 – Victoria. The award was presented to Robert Boschma (director) at the recent FAOPMA national conference and is the THIRD year running they have received an award.

This coveted award has been hotly contested within the industry. The judging panel evaluated company performances in 12 key business areas including quality control, service to clients, and staff training.

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Robert said that being a genuine ‘specialist’ has enabled the company to develop the latest business systems, specialist skills and equipment. These are combined with old fashioned service values of care and professionalism to give clients a technically skilled and caring service.

He said that he and the staff are enjoying the feeling that the hard work invested has been recognised by the industry but are motivated to continue to build on the good foundations of the business to deliver a better service for their clients.

If you are after a termite control specialist, give us a call now: 1300 69 59 49

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Top 10 tips to reduce the chance of a termite (white ant) attack

Termite soldier

With 1 in 5 homes in Melbourne likely to suffer a termite attack and with termite damage not covered by home insurance, it makes sense to do everything you can to protect your home.

Having regular termite inspections by a qualified pest professional and installing a termite management system around the perimeter of the building (liquid soil treatment or termite baiting system) are the first two components of a termite management plan and are designed to prevent a concealed termite attack.

However, homeowners have a big role to play in reducing the chance of a termite attack on their property. The third component of any successful termite management plan involves the homeowner maintaining the property and making their home “termite unfriendly”.

So what are these maintenance actions and potential issues homeowners need to keep an eye on?

The actions focus on reducing the three factors that could make your home attractive and accessible to termites;

1)    Reduce areas of increased moisture around the home (termites love moisture!)

2)    Reducing termite food (wood and paper) around the home

3)    Making sure the perimeter, sub-floor and roof void of the home are clear of obstacles so any termite ‘break-ins’ can be seen.

….. and these are the 10 key actions to focus on

REDUCING MOISTURE AROUND AND UNDER YOUR HOME

1) Ensure ground water drainage flows away from / around your home. Ground level should slope away from house and / or soil drainage systems should be installed.  If you have a moist sub-floor, installing fans may also be beneficial.

Damp soil in sub-floor is attractive to termites

Damp sub-floors are highly attractive to termites

2) Don’t have a watering system or regularly water plants adjacent to the house. This really means you need to avoid substantial garden beds adjacent to the house.

3) Ensure roof guttering and downpipes do not leak and they correctly discharge to the storm water drains.

4) Make sure any external taps are not dripping and ideally have a drain underneath.

5) Check for leaks in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. (You may need a plumber or pest inspector to help here).

REDUCE POTENTIAL TERMITE FOOD AROUND AND UNDER YOUR HOME

6) Do not use wood mulch immediately adjacent to the house. If you must use wood mulch, make sure it has been treated with an appropriate insecticide or it is classed as termite resistant timber.  Keep in mind, termite resistant does not mean termite proof!

7) Make sure any waste timber or cardboard boxes (also great termite food) are thrown out or stored above ground level, ideally away from the building.

8) Make sure any firewood is stored off the ground away from the building. Firewood needs to be stored off the ground (on a metal framework)

Firewood is great termite food

Firewood should be stored away from the house on a metal stand

KEEP AREAS AROUND AND UNDER YOUR HOME CLEAR

9) Keep the perimeter of your home clear of plants and stored items. If you can’t see the edge of the building you won’t be able to see any termite ‘break-ins’!

10) If you have a sub-floor, avoid the temptation to store your excess / unwanted items in this inviting area. Stored goods prevent your ability to see any termite activity and also reduce ventilation.  If the stored goods include wood or cardboard boxes, you are also providing some nice termite food!

Stored timber and cardboard boxes are ideal termite food

Remove stored timber and cardboard boxes from the sub-floor

When you do your annual Spring clean, work through this list… it could save you from a very expensive termite attack! If you get your annual termite inspection at the same time – it will reinforce these general termite prevention tips and provide some specific actions for your property. Hopefully, your house will get the termite “all clear”.

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Buying a home? Everything you need to know about pre-purchase pest inspections

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When you’re thinking about buying a property, it’s important to know you are making a sound investment decision… and not buying a lemon! There are two inspections that buyers should commission for any property they are intending to buy; a pre-purchase building inspection and a pre-purchase timber pest inspection.

Why do you need a pre-purchase building inspection?

Pre-purchase building inspections are designed to determine the condition of the house before making a decision to purchase the property, so you can determine if there are any major issues (big or small) that will need to be remedied. Common building defects that are identified during inspections include rising damp, leaks or draining issues, cracked walls (which may indicate wall / soil movement), leaking roofs and safety hazards. Any estimates for repair can then be obtained so that a purchase decision can be made, negotiating on price as required.

Why do you need a pre-purchase pest inspection?

A pre-purchase pest inspection or more accurately a pre-purchase timber pest inspection is an inspection carried out on a property by potential buyers, before purchase. It differs from the standard termite inspection that property owners may have on a property they own, in that it also specifically includes other timber pests including borers, wood decay fungi and mould. The costs in treating for these pests, remedying any prevailing conditions and repairing damage can then be taken into account in negotiations on the property.

Do I need both a building and pest inspection?

It is important to remember a building inspection is separate to a pest inspection. Although there is a bit of overlap in the content of these two inspections, there are some significant differences, which is why it is important to have both a building inspection and a timber pest inspection before buying a property.

Although a building inspection should identify any visual termite damage, it is not specifically looking for active termites, borers or wood decay. More importantly the timber pest inspection not only covers all the same areas of the building and site as the building inspector, but also involves inspecting up to 30m from the main building to inspect for signs of termite activity that may become a future threat to the property.

When do you need these inspections?

These inspections are carried out pre-purchase – before the buyer completes the purchase of the property. This means they are carried out before placing on offer on a property or during the cooling off period. This allows the buyer to re-negotiate the price if required (depending on the findings of the inspection) or even pull out of the deal. If you are bidding at an auction, these inspections have to be carried out before the auction – once your bid is accepted, the deal is closed!

In most situations it is actually optional for a buyer to carry out these inspections, but when you are buying a property for hundreds of thousands of dollars (and often much more!), such inspections are actually vital. It makes sense to spend a couple of hundred dollars on separate quality building and pest inspections, to prevent an investment mistake that may cost tens of thousands or more!

Should you ask for a joint building and pest inspection?

A number of companies provide joint building and pest inspections. As a building inspector and pest inspector go to many of the same areas of the property, when one person carries out both inspections it can save time and often this results in a cheaper inspection for the buyer.

HOWEVER, you need to decide whether want a cheap inspection or a quality inspection. When you are spending hundreds of thousands on a home, you really should be trying to get thorough inspections from the best inspectors available. Typically this means using a building inspection that specialises in building inspections and pest inspection that specialises in timber pest inspections. Apart from the experience and skills that a specialised inspector can utilise, two different inspectors provides two sets of eyes inspecting the property, dramatically reducing the chances of an issue being missed. This gives you increased confidence in the reports on the state of the property – well worth a bit of extra money.

How should you choose your building and pest inspectors?

Don’t use real estate recommendations. Real estate agents often have their preferred building inspections and pest control companies. If you ask, the real estate agent may well pass on their details, although they won’t necessarily “recommend” them, as by recommending them, they take on some responsibility should an issue occur in the future. It is also important to realise that the real estate is acting for the seller, not you, the buyer. As such, some real estate agents don’t really like inspectors who go into too much detail in their inspections, after all the more faults they find, the greater the chance the sale price will go down or even fall through. However, as a buyer these are just the inspectors you want, so it’s far better for buyers to find their own inspectors.

Don’t choose on price. When trying to decide on your building and pest inspectors, find inspectors with experience and those that come recommended, either from friends, work colleagues or through online reviews. As mentioned previously, definitely have two separate inspections (one building inspection and one pest inspection) and don’t choose your inspector on the basis of the cheapest price. A good inspector will take time to carry out a comprehensive inspection and will not undervalue their time and expertise. These are just the inspectors you want when you are making such a big investment decision.

Check qualifications, licenses and insurance. Make sure the inspector is qualified to carry out the inspection and has the required license to carry out this work in your state. (As a general point, pest inspectors need to have a license to carry out timber pest / termite work in addition to their general pest license). They should also carry professional indemnity and public liability insurance for the specified inspection work. A good inspection company will have no issue showing you these documents on request.

You need to have a pre-inspection agreement!

All pre-purchase building and inspection inspections require an agreement to be signed before the inspection takes place. As you can imagine, there is the potential for significant financial repercussions to occur if issue are overlooked during an inspection. As such, insurance companies require inspectors to have agreements in place with buyers to ensure the buyers understands what is and is not included in an inspection and how the company and the buyer are protected. These documents may seem a little scary but get your inspector to clarify anything you don’t understand. In fact, you should be more worried if an inspection company does not require you to sign a pre-inspection agreement.

What’s involved in a timber pest inspection?

It is important to remember that both building and pest pre-purchase inspections are visual inspections, which means inspectors cannot cause any damage to the property or even move items of furniture during inspections. If there are areas to which they cannot gain access, these will also not be inspected. If there are any such areas they cannot inspect, it will be noted in the report.

As a word of caution, sellers will often restrict access or block areas they wish to hide with furniture, to try and prevent issues being detected. A good inspector will be aware of such tricks and will comment on this lack of access in the report and recommend further inspections. Obviously if the inspector cannot access an area, they cannot comment on whether there are issues or not.

Pre-purchase timber inspections need to be carried out according to Australian Standards AS 4349.1. In inspecting for termites, borers and wood decay, not only are inspectors looking for active pest activity, but also they look for previous pest activity, signs of damage, current building faults and environmental conditions that may make pest problems in the future more likely.

In inspecting the property, the inspector should go through each room in turn, as well as spending time in the roof void and sub-floor inspecting each timber in turn, inspect outbuildings, fences and tress up to 30m from the main building. They will particularly look for leaks, drainage and ventilation issues and construction faults, which make the house more attractive to termites and easy to access.

The inspector may use additional equipment such as moisture meters, motion detectors and thermal imaging cameras to investigate areas of concern. However, as it is a visual inspection, they are unable to move items or open up walls to confirm any suspicions they may have.

Termatrac termite detector

Termatrac termite detectors are often used by quality pest professionals

How long should a pest inspection take?

As you can imagine, inspecting each room in turn and taking time to inspect the high-risk areas such as the roof void and sub-floor and surveying the land surrounding the building, can make an inspection a time consuming process. The amount of time taken for an inspection will depend on a number of factors including the property type (does it have a sub-floor), the size of the building, the size of the land, the number of buildings and the complexity of the gardens present. However, it is not unusual for a quality pest inspection to take at least 2 hours for a “standard” house.

Asking a potential inspection company how long the inspection will take can be a good indicator as to whether they are a quality company. Often the real estate agent will be on site with the inspector and they can often try and “hurry up” the inspector, so you need an inspector confident and assertive in their manner.

A great option is to be on site when the inspection is being carried out. Again, good inspectors are more than happy for you to be there as it allows them to point out and discuss any issues first hand, so you have a better understanding.

What’s in the pest inspection report?

The inspection will be a multi-page report (with photos) detailing the areas inspected (and not inspected, with reasons), any areas of current pest activity, previous pest activity, areas of damage, construction faults that may cause pest issues, drainage and other environmental issues. It will also include any recommendations for further inspections and any treatments that may be necessary. Along with all the legal speak, these can be lengthy documents, so talk to the inspector if you need to clarify anything.

At the end of the day, knowledge is power when it comes to negotiating on a property and making a sound investment decision. Getting quality building and pest inspections gives you that knowledge.

If you’re in Melbourne and need a pre-purchase pest inspection call

Specialist Termite Control

Specialist Pest Manager of the Year 2014 and 2015
“You’re in safe hands”

1300 695949

Which provides best termite protection – termite baits or liquid soil treatments?

Which is the the best termite protection?

It’s a pretty common question – “Which is the best termite protection?” The problem is, there is no easy answer – it depends. There are a whole range of factors which may dictate the best termite treatment, but it is important to realise the best termite treatment for your house may not be the best termite treatment for your neighbour’s house – each situation is different. The best termite treatment (and therefore the one your pest professional should recommended) depends on a range of factors, the key ones being the construction of the house, the soil type and slope of the block, the species of termites. Firstly it is probably best to recap how each product type protects your home

Liquid soil termite treatments

Liquid soil termite treatments, when applied properly are design to create a complete treated zone around and (in houses with a sub-floor) under your home. It is designed to work in conjunction with the physical elements of your house such as the concrete slab or metal shielding (‘ant caps’) on your piers, to prevent the termites getting in to your house without being noticed.

Termite tube going up a concrete stump

Soil around piers in the sub-floor need to be treated as well as the perimeter of the home to prevent termite entry. Termite have built a mud tube up this untreated pier

And that’s the important point. A liquid soil treatment is not a ‘barrier’; it does not stop termites getting into your house. For example, termites can build their way around or over a treated zone (with their mud tubes). When a treatment is correctly applied and working with the physical features of the home, it forces the termite to reveal themselves and the mud tubes can be spotted (a key reason why regular termite inspections are vital) and the problem dealt with. When correctly installed a liquid soil treatment is generally considered the preferred method of protecting a property. However, the challenge is installing it correctly – soil types or construction issues may not allow a complete and continuous treated zone to be applied. Any gap in the treated zone could potentially allow termites a way in to your home unnoticed.

Termite baits

Termite baits are places around the perimeter of buildings to intercept any termites in the area before the get to your home. The bait stations are placed in the ground and contain wood attractive to termites. These bait stations are checked every 2-3 months by a pest professional to see if termites are feeding on the wood. If there are active termites, a termite bait containing a slow acting insecticide is placed in the bait station. The termites feed on the bait, taking it back to the nest and killing the colony, protecting the home.

Heavy termite activity in monitor station

Heavy termite activity in monitor station

One question homeowners new to termite baiting often ask is, “What stops termites ignoring the bait stations and attacking my home instead?” From years of research, the required distance between bait stations to prevent this happening is known. So if the system is installed properly and regular inspections are carried out, termite baiting systems are a great way to protect your property. However, there are a number of factors as to whether termite baiting or liquid soil treatments are the best option for your home.

Factors affecting choice of termite treatment

Construction type

There are a range of home construction types, most commonly in Melbourne homes are either built on brick piers (ie they have a sub-floor) or built on a concrete slab (on the ground). If the homes are built well (and there are no other influencing factors present), generally speaking, liquid soil termite treatments are the best option for both construction types, although treatments on a home with piers will be more expensive as the sub-floor also needs to be treated. Termite baiting systems are a good option for concrete slab homes as well, but they also have benefits when there are construction flaws or when the construction type is unknown.

Construction flaws

It is surprisingly common for homes to have construction flaws (even new homes!) that mean a continuous treated zone cannot be created with a soil applied termiticide. Such issues are quite common when extensions are built without appropriate termite protection being installed at the time of construction. Typically these construction issues result in a break in the physical barrier provided by the construction (for example an untreated join between two concrete slabs). As such even if a complete treatment is carried around the perimeter of the home, the construction flaw is left unprotected – it’s amazing at how good termites are at finding holes in your termite defence!

Homes with construction flaws are better protected by baiting systems or, sometimes, using a liquid soil treatment and termite baiting system in combination. Home surrounded by concrete and pavers also present application issues. To treat such homes properly, the concrete should be cut and pavers lifted, to enable a complete application to the soil underneath. Homeowners often don’t want to do this for aesthetic or cost reasons. In such cases, termite baiting systems can be the better option.

Soil type

To get a good, even distribution of a liquid soil termiticide, the soil should ideally be a sandy loam, devoid of rocks. If your home is built on clay or has high rock content, it will prevent the treatment being applied evenly to the soil and therefore gaps in the treatment are likely. In such cases to apply a liquid soil treatment, the pest professional should be quoting to remove the existing soil from the home perimeter and replacing it with a sandy loam, before the application takes place. This is obviously adds additional costs and often makes the baiting system the better option.

Slope of block

The slope of the block can also impact the choice of treatment. Application of liquid soil termiticide to steeply sloping blocks can be difficult and there is always the danger of rain moving the treatment away from the application areas, making the treatment ineffective. In such cases termite baiting systems often prove the better option.

The wrap up

Be aware of pest managers pushing only one treatment type without justification. Your termite professional should always discuss a number of different treatment options for your property, although as we have seen, some of these treatments may not be suitable. If more than one treatment type is available for your home, cost and personal preference may also come into the decision making process – some prefer baiting systems as the environmentally smart option. At the end of the day there is no ‘best’ termite protection system that can be applied to all buildings, just the right system for your home and your situation.

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How do termite treatments to the soil protect my home?


There are two main termite management systems used to protect buildings from termite attack

1)     Application of termite treatment to the soil around and under buildings

2)     Installation of a termite monitoring and baiting system around the perimeter of buildings

Following on from our previous article when we looked at how baiting systems protect your home from termites, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the soil termite treatment option.

A termite attack on your home can be an emotionally draining and expensive experience, with serious attacks realising damage bills up to $100,000 or more. Once active termites have been eradicated from the building, to prevent further attacks in the future (or prevent an attack in the first place), it is necessary to install a termite management system to protect the building.

How are soil termite treatments applied?

Treating soil around and under buildings with insecticide is the “traditional” way to protect structures from termites. The pest professional will dig a trench around the perimeter of the building to a level of at least 50mm below the top of the foundations.

Digging trench for soil termite treatment

Digging a treatment trench below the foundations

When the soil is replaced, it is mixed with insecticide to create a treated zone around the property. For those buildings with a sub-floor, the soil under the house around all sub-floor structures (perimeter walls and piers) should also be treated.

Liquid Termiticide Barrier application

Liquid insecticide added as soil is replaced in the trench

How do soil termite treatments work?

There are two types of chemicals that can be used in such termite treatments; repellent and non-repellent insecticides. The older style chemicals are repellent chemicals, which as their name suggests repel termites from the treated area. Whilst this sounds like a good idea, if there is a small gap in the treatment (as sometimes can happen due to the nature of the soil structure), termites can sometimes find their way through.

In contrast, the newer non-repellent treatments actually kill termites that come into contact with the treated soil. Termites coming into contact with the treatment also have the potential to pass the chemical on to other termites, magnifying its effect. As termites cannot detect the chemical, they cannot find any potential gaps in the treatment, making it a more robust treatment compared to the older repellent chemicals. As such the newer non-repellent treatments tend to be a little more expensive. In addition, some of these newer non-repellent chemicals have an excellent environmental profile making them a smarter choice for those with pest and children.

It’s important to realise that a treated zone is not a “termite barrier” preventing termites from entering your home. They are designed to work with the structural aspects of your home (foundations, “ant capping”, etc), to prevent termites entering your home without being noticed. That is, to get into your home they need to build a mud tube around the barrier. When they do this, they can be spotted and dealt with. For this reason even with a soil treatment in place, it is important to have annual termite inspections. In fact, any treatment warranties will be reliant on having annual termite inspections as part of the ongoing termite management plan.

Clearly the success of any soil termite treatment is dependent on ensuring an even application of chemical around and under the property. If there are concrete paths or pavers around the property, it is possible to drill through concrete and pavers and inject the product into the ground. However, there is no way of knowing how even the chemical has been distributed in the soil and we believe it can give a false sense of security. If we cannot be confident of installing a complete, even soil treatment, we will always discuss other treatment options such as baiting.

Although soil termite treatments can be an excellent option in many situations, sometimes building construction, soil type and the gradient of the block means a chemical treatment cannot be applied successfully and other options should be considered. Always be careful of pest control companies who only push one treatment option.

How long to soil termite treatments last?

Soil termite treatments are designed to last a number of years. Although some products claim eight or even ten years “protection”, we always advise re-application after 5 years. Although in most cases the chemical can last longer than five years, potential soil movement and root growth over a 5 year period can create gaps in the treated zone. Even with a 5 year re-application rate, in most cases a soil treatment is the most cost effective termite management system.

Furthermore, a reticulation system can also be installed when the soil is treated. The reticulation is a series of flexible pipes laid in the ground around the property. These can be filled with insecticide when the soil needs to be re-treated. This makes future treatments quick and easy, without having to dig up soil and paths, resulting a very cost effective long-term option.

Termite reticulation system installation

Termite Reticulation system installation

Benefits of a termite treatment to the soil?

With the chemical in place, the system is always acting to prevent concealed termite entry.

Only one property inspection per year is required to maintain warranty.

For most structures where a soil treatment is suitable, it represents the most cost effective termite management system for protecting homes.

New chemicals have a great environmental profile, only targeting termites – a great option for those with pets and children.

Make sure your professional discusses different termite treatment options for your home so you can make an informed decision and choose the best option. If you’re in Melbourne you can always give us a call (Specialist Termite Control – Specialist Pest Manager of the Year 2014, 2015 – 1300 69 59 49)

How do termite baiting systems protect my home?

There are two main types of termite management system for protecting existing homes from termites; chemical soil treatments and termite baiting systems. Both systems have their pros and cons, allowing the quality pest professional to choose the best system for the construction type, soil conditions and termite species present at the property. Here, we’ll give you the low down on baiting…

How does a termite baiting system work?

Termite baiting systems are actually termite monitoring and baiting systems. Plastic bait stations containing wood attractive to termites are placed in the ground around the property. The principle of a termite monitoring and baiting system is that termites are intercepted at the monitoring stations before getting to your house. The termite activity in these monitoring stations is picked up by the pest professional during one of their regular system inspections and a bait is then added to the station to control the termites.

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Termites eating the attractive bait (white solid) placed inside a monitoring station

Termite baiting – Frequently asked questions?

What stops termites walking past bait stations and into my home?

In theory, nothing. In practice, it is very rare and here’s why. The monitoring stations are placed around 2-3m apart (on average) around the perimeter of the property. Over years of research this has shown to be the optimal distance to virtually eliminate the chances of termites entering your home without attacking a monitoring station.

With the termite monitoring system we commonly use, we also include an attractant to ensure any nearby termites are attracted to the bait station rather than your house. Over all our years of operation we have not had a single case of termites attacking a house protected by a monitoring system.

How often is the monitoring system inspected?

Regular inspections of the termite monitoring system are vital to its success. Depending on the system and termite pressure, inspections are required every 6 weeks – 3 months. Not only do these inspections check the stations for activity but the pest professional will pick up any other termite activity around the perimeter of your home.

Inspections of the monitoring system are not the same as a property termite inspection, when the property and buildings are inspected inside and out. The complete termite inspections are also required once a year – a recommendation whether you have a termite monitoring system or not.

How long does it take to control termites?

When termites are detected in a monitoring station, termite bait is added. The termite bait is a mixture of cellulose material (similar to that found in wood, but more attractive) and a slow acting termiticide. Termites feed on the bait taking it back to the nest where it is fed to the rest of the colony. It needs to be slow acting so the termites do not detect its effect and stop feeding on the bait.

Depending on the time of year and size of the colony it typically takes 3-6 month to eliminate a colony but can take up to a year on rare occasions. On the face of it, taking several months to gain control is too long for some, but homeowners can rest at ease since the termites feeding on the bait are not attacking their home and by actually eliminating the colony, you are providing lasting protection for your home.

Are the baiting systems obvious?

Some homeowners are worried about having obvious, “ugly” monitoring stations around their home. Once the stations are installed they are flat with the soil surface and often around the perimeter of the home there are hidden in the garden beds. Around many homes the system is very discrete, often only visible in one or two places. For some this can be reassuring as you know there is a termite system in place protecting your home.

Benefits of a termite baiting system?

  • Flexible termite protection system – can be applied to a range of different construction types and conditions.
  • Unaffected by weather – as there are no chemicals in the ground, baiting systems are not effected by flooding or soil movement
  • Safe for children and pets – as there are no chemical applied to the soil, baiting is ideal if you have children and pets, even the termite bait is non-toxic to mammals.
  • Environmentally smart – no chemical are being pumped into the ground and the termite bait only targets termites, it’s very specific

Termite monitoring and baiting systems are considered the smart way to protect your home, so ask you pest professional about these options. If you’re in Melbourne you can always give us a call (Specialist Termite Control – Specialist Pest Manager of the Year 2014, 2015 – 1300 69 59 49)

Termite inspections – A Health check for your home

Most people have their car serviced every 6 months or so. Visits to the GP are recommended at least once a year, even for those “who never get sick”. But how often do you get your house checked out to make sure everything is in good order? Well, many homeowners don’t do anything and this can be a very costly mistake, especially with termites around.

Termite damage to internal wall of house

Termite damage to internal wall

On average in Australia, the chance that your home will be attacked by termites is 12 times greater than suffering a house fire, yet termite damage is not covered by most home insurance. With the most damaging termite species in Melbourne capable of causing significant damage in as little as 6 months, every homeowner should have a termite management plan in place to protect their most valuable asset.

A successful termite management plan is a combination of regular termite inspections and the installation of a suitable termite management system to protect your home. However, the annual termite inspection is the cornerstone of a termite management plan. Termite inspections are designed to pick up signs of termite activity, evidence of termite damage and identify conditions in and around the property that make the building susceptible to termite attack.

With a number of pest control companies in Melbourne providing termite inspection services (and unfortunately not all are reputable), it is important for homeowners to know what’s involved in a termite inspection, so they can check to make sure they are getting a quality inspection.

What’s involved in a termite inspection?

The termite inspection can be broken down into 5 key areas;

1)   Interior of buildings. Each room needs to be inspected in turn and wet areas (kitchen, bathroom and laundry) need to be assessed with moisture meters to detect potential leaks.

2)   Sub-floor (if present). If access to the sub-floor area is possible, the inspector needs to crawl to all corners of the sub-floor inspecting supporting structures, flooring timbers and drainage.

3)   Exterior of buildings. The inspector must pay particular attention to the areas adjacent to the house. The inspector is looking for potential termite entry points, whether the soil level or other structure is concealing potential termite entry points, are there elevated moisture levels through watering systems, leaks or drainage issues that could make it more attractive to termites, is there

4)   The land around the building needs to be assessed for conducive conditions such as trees, stumps, timber retaining walls, timber fences, garden beds and any outbuildings / structures. “Termite food” adjacent to the house in the form of plants and wood mulch?

5)   Roof space. The inspector needs to get into the roof space and where space allows, crawl from one end of the roof space to the other inspecting each timber in turn. To enter the roof space, the electricity normally needs to be turned off. If there are any safety concerns the inspector is not allowed to enter the roof space.

How long does a termite inspection take?

With all these areas to inspect (and you don’t want the inspector to rush), you can imagine that even for a “standard” house, a comprehensive termite inspection can take some time. With the size of building, construction type and any on site issues impacting the duration of an inspection, the time taken to complete a termite inspection will vary. However, typically an inspection on a standard 3 or 4 bedroom house will take at least 2 hours. Certainly if the termite inspector has completed the inspection in under an hour you should be concerned. When you are deciding on which company to choose, ask how long the inspection will take – their answer will be a good indicator as to whether they are a reputable company.

What tools does a termite inspector use?

Termite inspectors may use a range of equipment to help them with their termite inspection. Two basic tools would be a “tapper” to knock on wood to check it is sound and a knife or screwdriver to probe suspect areas. A moisture meter is a must have piece of equipment, to check for leaks and potential areas of moisture behind walls which can be a sign of termite activity. The latest equipment includes motion detectors, which can be very helpful to a good termite inspector. However, it’s important to remember that all the equipment in the world does not turn a bad inspector into a good inspector. The best equipment a termite inspector has is his experience, his knowledge and a good set of eyes. The key step is to find an inspector you can trust.

Termatrac and termites

Termatrac technology can detect termites behind walls

How do I know if the inspector is qualified?

When you are considering which company to choose for your termite inspection, in addition to asking about their experience, it is important to get them to confirm they are licensed to carry out termite inspections and they have the appropriate insurance. As a customer, you are perfectly within your rights to view their license and insurance documents before accepting their quote.

What’s in a termite inspection report?

Firstly, the report should confirm that the inspection has been carried out according to Australian Standard 3660.2. The report will contain a description of the property and what area have been inspected and list the areas not inspected (and reason, such as lack of access). It will list observed termite activity and record any visual termite damage. Importantly it will list conditions around the property that may be conducive to allowing a termite attack; such as high levels of moisture, leaks, construction faults, high soil levels, wood sources, poor ventilation and stored goods.

Termite mud tube provide access to floor timbers

Termite mud tube provide access to floor timbers

Damp sub-floor area attractive to termites

Damp sub-floor area attractive to termites

Leaking gutter causing moist areas around the building

Leaking gutter causing moist areas around the building

Stored timbers in sub-floor - great termite food!

Stored timbers in sub-floor – great termite food!


Termite inspection reports can be lengthy documents as they also contain a lot of legal wording. It is important to get the inspector to explain the results of the inspection verbally as well and any next steps you should take. Good reports will have supporting photographs to help you understand the findings.

It is important to remember that these termite inspections are visual inspections (even if motion detectors and thermal imaging cameras are used) and cannot categorically confirm that termites are behind a wall unless an invasive inspection is carried out. As such the report may include recommendations for further inspections. It will also recommend the frequency of future termite inspections and make a recommendation regarding the need for installing a termite management system, the other key component of your termite management plan.

But a termite inspection can be more than that…

A termite inspector goes to the places most homeowners fear to tread – the roof void and sub-floor. A good termite inspector may also pick up other potential issues with your property – leaking roofs, structural faults, lose wiring, poor plumbing / drainage and more – a real “health check” on your home. So termite inspections are a great investment for a few hundred dollars, one that could save you thousands! When did you last have a termite inspection?

WINNER OF THE 2015 AEPMA NATIONAL SPECIALIST AWARD


We have been lucky enough to have won this AEPMA Pest Manager of the Year Award for two years in a row now and are very excited to be acknowledged by our industry again and hope it vindicates the decision of many of our customers to choose one of Australia’s best. Thanks to our staff and clients for making it happen.

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‘BUILD-OUT’ TERMITES BY ‘BUILDING-IN’ PROTECTION

Do you remember when it was routine to spray for termites before pouring a slab? It was only 20 years ago- but how things have changed in the area of pre-construction termite treatments.

Probably the biggest change of all was the acceptance in the termite Standard that a concrete slab itself could form part of a termite barrier. At the same time, the long lasting ‘organo-chlorine’ chemicals being used were withdrawn and replaced with the safer termiticides that we have today- but these are registered with a service life of about 10 years only. This raised concerns about the lack of termite protection beyond 10 years in non-accessible building parts such as under slabs.

An additional concern has been the indication that the traditional system of “free-hand spraying” of termiticide had a poor track record of performance. Where was the evidence? In 2005 the CSIRO produced a termite risk map of Melbourne, based on a limited survey by Termite Action Victoria. The map and tables clearly showed that the council areas where pre-construction termite protection was mandatory, were also those that suffered the highest rates of termite infestation. In fact 25 pct of all termite infestations occurred within 4 council areas, all of which required pre-construction termite protection. Perhaps the protection helped- but it certainly did not bring home the bacon.

What was behind this poor performance is not clear, but most experienced termite specialists will tell you that the chemicals used are effective when applied fully and correctly. The blame is more likely to be the invisible nature of sprays, and the difficulty in inspecting and certifying that an application has been made to all stages of an often complex building. Parts of buildings were probably not treated. Furthermore, treated areas such as garden beds and pathways, were liable to be compromised by the subsequent landscaping and paving works that often follow the termiticide application.

We are fortunate that the dismal landscape painted above has been brightened by a new way of doing things. There is a growing range of termite protection products that can be seen, touched and inspected and the builder is spoilt for choice in picking a method that suits the building.

These products have some common features-

  • They often integrate with part of the building structure such as a concrete slab, which together with the product, form a ‘termite management system’.
  • These systems are ‘BUILT-IN’, and can at some stage be inspected, confirmed to be complete, signed off and certified. In an imperfect world, this is a big advantage over the invisible ‘spray’ method.
  • A ‘BUILT-IN’ system is generally not as easily compromised when a new home-owner makes new garden beds or lays new paving around the home.
  • They provide longer term protection, often with an expectation of 50 years of service.
  • They typically come with a warranty which is subject to the building being inspected annually by a termite specialist. This is in-line with the termite Standard, and apart from inspecting for termites, it provides an excellent opportunity for home owners to be informed by the inspector about maintenance of things such as landscaping levels, ventilation and replenishment of chemical in reticulation systems. (where fitted)

Generally, ‘built-in’ products are applied so as to integrate with building parts to form a single termite barrier. It would be unusual in Victoria today to underlay a termite protection product under the entire building. Instead, the design of the building must be understood, building plans provided, and the qualities of structures such as a concrete slabs and sub-floor clearances must be specified prior to planning a termite protection system that will utilise the building components as part of the termite barrier.

For Example-

Concrete Slabs

  • Must be designed and constructed so as not to have a 1mm crack through the slab. AS 2870 and AS 3600 are ‘deemed to satisfy’.
  • Slabs with abutments to other structure, such as ‘in-fill slabs’, require protection at those margins.
  • Potential holes / joins / and gaps in the slab should be independently protected.
  • The external perimeter, typically at the edge rebate, should be independently protected.

Suspended floors

  • Must be 400mm clear of the ground to permit local barriers such as stump capping to comply.
  • Concrete /steel stumps require no further protection. Masonry footings and timber stumps require protection, such as with capping / strip shielding.

 

EXAMPLES OF PRODUCTS TYPES

Non chemical-

These were the first of the new wave of ‘built-in’ products after the old chemicals were withdrawn, and include the well established stainless steel mesh and graded stone methods. The companies providing these products did not just supply the material, but they established for the first time a comprehensive system behind the product, and trained their people to install it, inspect it and warranty it. They undertook extensive research and testing and developed a range of adhesives, sealants and fixing methods that became part of their ‘systems’ . They also had to coax the building industry away from treating termite protection as an afterthought and ‘quick spray’, and into a scheduled stage of the building process, and they provided industry training and seminars accordingly. These methods remain available today, and have the advantage of being well known throughout Victoria as well as being chemical free.

Reticulation-

Termite reticulation systems are a convenient re-application or termiticide via an irrigation system similar to water irrigation. Some of these products were developed as the old chemicals were going and have become very well established. They are cost effective and simple to install and simple for the builder to schedule – in. They are an improvement on hand spraying chemical, and are particularly useful to enable re-application where concrete / tiled   paths / patios surround a building. They require replenishment every few years, typically by the supplier, who may also provide an on-going warranty.

Impregnated membranes-

Treated termite membranes are typically plastic strips that have been loaded in some way with an insecticide. Brands vary in technology- some membranes sandwich a treated textile material between two thin plastic sheets, and another brand actually includes insecticide within the plastic itself during manufacture. The result is a range of products that are generally expected to last the lifetime of a building, can be readily inspected and can be installed into buildings in a range of convenient ways. They are cost effective to supply and once installed they tend to be left undisturbed to do their job for the long haul without any service requirements. Impregnated membranes are repellent to termites – which cannot contact or explore the membrane. This provides a feeling of confidence that if a membrane is inadvertently damaged during the building process, termites may not be able to find the breach. An additional security is the range of adhesives and sealants that come with most brands. These are mostly today ‘active’, meaning that they also contain insecticide, and increase the flexibility and security of these systems.

There are many other methods available, and their number is increasing continually.

 

SO WHAT SHOULD A BUILDER DO?

  • Provide proper building plans including those for elevations and footings.
  • Include termite work into the building schedule and give plenty of notice of your requirements.
  • Respect the specialist’s work, and ensure that following trades do the same.
  • Once the termite system is installed, ensure that the provider fixes a ‘durable notice’ in the SEC box (or sub-floor frame) and that you pass on the certificate of installation with your hand-over pack to your purchaser. This will allow the new owner to contact the termite company and register for annual inspections and warranty. Once this is done, you can sleep easy knowing that someone else’s phone will ring if termites rear their ugly heads over the long years ahead.

 

Termite Inspections – An obvious find!

Interesting, most of the time termites are discrete and secretive. But we did a termite inspection of this house in the Toolangi State forest. The photo tells the story. We think it was Copotermes lacteus, which is common in the wet forest areas. Even though they rarely attack houses, in this case the damp service timbers were attacked and we did a termite treatment including a direct treatment into the mound using Altriset odourless and non-toxic termiticide.

Termite mound in house

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