Here is what termites can do ...

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Forum topic by pendledad posted 03-05-2014 06:15 PM 1969 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 3171 days

03-05-2014 06:15 PM

If you’re lucky enough to never have termites them I’m jealous. We bought this house ~2 years ago and it seems that all the houses on our street have been a termite buffet for the past 30 years. With finished ceilings in the basements, nobody ever really looks at joists/beams/sills unless there is a problem.

My problem started with some plumbing that we replaced and I pulled down the ceiling and the plaster around the beam in the basement. And guess what I found … The beam was almost caved in and collapsing on itself. You would never have noticed because the floors weren’t sagging and the beam was so massive that it still seemed straight and level.

It appears to be a 9”x12” solid 26’ piece of fir. Here is what a healthy piece of the beam looks like:

And here is a section where the termites went to town:

They ate through about 4 feet of the beam, which was convieniently exactly 1/2 the distance from the foundation to the first column. Luckily I put up a brace/jack-post when I saw this damage to stop it from collapsing. The healthy pieces of beam are solid and heavy … these termite damanged ones are like paper. I can scoop away the mud-tubes with a finger. I know there is more damage in the house, but nothing I’ve found yet appears to be structural like this beam.

I was hoping to save some of this wood for a new fireplace mantle, but the beam actually snapped in another location and the previous owners patched it with steel. It snapped due to too much twisting and excessive heat from the steam pipes over the last 80+ years. The entire section was riddled with nails and adhesives and was unable to be salvaged.

7 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4730 days

#1 posted 03-05-2014 06:18 PM


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3509 days

#2 posted 03-05-2014 06:53 PM

Yep! that’s what termites do, they eat wood.

As kids in Rhodesia we would get a plank that was painted on three sides and leave it near a termite nest – three days later we would have a shell of paint and NOTHING else. We used to think that was normal, because we knew what would happen.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View nelsonpitter's profile


2 posts in 2597 days

#3 posted 04-03-2014 08:02 AM

Wood can replace metal if termites stop eating it. But it is not possible. There are a lot of treatments available to control termites in market but orange oil treatment is one of the best I have ever experienced.
One more thing about orange oil is, it is a pure green and organic product. Just few drops can kill thousands of termites. My pest inspection davis team is working on basil plant to create an effective solution of termite infestation.

-- Nelson Pitter

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3451 days

#4 posted 04-03-2014 12:01 PM

Nelson, are you actually a woodworker, or did you sign up to advertise? Your profile is just an links to your non-woodworking business.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3948 days

#5 posted 04-03-2014 03:17 PM

That’s pretty scary.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4130 days

#6 posted 04-03-2014 03:23 PM

I used to have a house i Long beach California.
At night I could hear the termites eating my house away.
Some 2×4 were totally empty of wood only a paper thin envelop was left, nothing inside.
We had the house “tented” 3 times , it made absolutely no difference at all.

-- Bert

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3030 days

#7 posted 04-03-2014 06:20 PM

You have a bigger problem. In my experiences termites are attracted to damp wood. The first thing I would look for is any moisture problems. From there I would look for mud trails. These are the tell tail signs I have found. That is the best place to start. after that I would go around with an ice pick and poke around for soft spots. Termites will also eat the drywall. gently push on the drywall if you find a soft spot its time for surgery.

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