Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)

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Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House) Bugs by the Number

We have many problems with rot and wood destroying insects in this region. A few months back, I was inspecting an older house that had a number of issues with wood destroying organisms. Since many of the insect pests are attracted to wet and decayed wood, it is common to find wood destroying insects living in rotten and wet wood.

At this particular crawl space, the first thing that I noticed, when opening the hatch, was frass or shavings from carpenter ants.

Honestly, that was no big surprise, since I had previously seen the little devils crawling around at the perimeter of the house.

In addition to the carpenter ants, once down inside the crawl space, there was an ongoing infestation of wood boring beetles -- the anobiid beetle that is so common here in the northwest. The pest leaves tiny shot-sized exit holes and causes massive damage to the afflicted lumber.

 

The problems at this home were, in part, caused by high moisture levels in the crawl space, the result of a missing vapor barrier over the earthen floor. The solution to the infestation, which can be expensive to repair, is to have a contractor come in and locate all of the structurally damaged wood. Rebuild the substructure in a professional manner and eliminate the conditions that were conducive to creating the problem in the first place. Finally, have a licensed pest control operator apply a chemical treatment that will control the wood destroying insects.

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 20 commentsSteven L. Smith • October 23 2011 01:09AM

Comments

Thanks for posting. Your blog is a good illustration of the damage these insects can cause.

Posted by George Bennett, Inactive Principal Broker, GRI (Inactive) about 8 years ago

Wow that is nasty. AND the reason ALL should hire a quality inspector to KNOW the home they are buying is sound.

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) about 8 years ago

Nice pics of the wood destroyed.  Yuck that would not be a fun home to fix.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) about 8 years ago

Steve (or Mason, as the case may be) - is that pressure-treated wood?  And if so, what other defense do you folks have up there against this infestation?  Again, and if it is pressure treated, does it lose potency over time such that the insects find it more palatable?  Did they ruin pressure-treated wood when they removed the arsenic?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Good morning, Steve. I thought we had problems with WDO's. We don't hold a candle to what y'all have...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 8 years ago

We have little problem with wood boring beetles here mainly due to the scarcity of crawl spaces. Termites are a much bigger and more common problem in CT. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 8 years ago

Bugs are everywhere and treating them is part of the maintaince of the home ownership.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) about 8 years ago

Steven, we carpenter ants and termites in our area. Haven't seen any wood boring beetles.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 8 years ago

Yikes. Just another reason that inspectors are worth their weight in gold. 

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) about 8 years ago

WOW - it's amazing what those creatures can do!  I am so glad for inspectors like you that can "show" us where our homes need help!

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) about 8 years ago

These photos should be convincing enough to make anyone want to get a home inspection. Great photos!

Posted by Aaron Seekford, Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116 (Arlington Realty, Inc.) about 8 years ago

We are not the only ones with an agenda for life....these guys set good examples for keeping busy and focused

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 8 years ago

Wow I guess I didn't know there was more then just termites that ate houses. Well now I certainly do! I don't believe what kind of damage those bugs cause!

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Based on my experience up here, I would say that next to rot, the anobiid beetle is problably the pest I see the most often and the most destructive. At least with carpenter ants, they usually see them wandering around. With the beetles, they have no clue. Jay, not pressure treated at all, real old house. Most anobiid infestations are in older houses, it takes the pest quite some time to get a lifecycle going to cause massive damage. The larvae is in the wood about 5 to 6 years. Many of the worst houses I see are from the 1930's and before. But I have seen it in newer houses, as late as the 70's. Some poorly crafted repairs had been made there so there might have been a few sticks of pressure treated.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Jay,

Sodim borates, such as TIMBOR, will wipe out the pest. It takes a few years as it kills the larvae laid by the insects when they exit. Nothing kills the insects deep in the wood, but borates gets them over some time. The head enforcement guy for WSDA in our state, Dr. Dan Suomi, is the world's leading expert on the pest and the treatment for it so we can get some pretty good advice. He says that, if when a new house was built, they would treat the substructure, prior to insulating, with sodium borates, it would pretty much eliminate the problem. The exception being if the crawl space flooded, it can be washed away. Otherwise, one treatment is all that is ever required. Builders are, of course, resistant to doing so as it raises costs.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Big yuck factor here, but interesting all the same. Glad it is you, not me, finding these "little devils."

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) about 8 years ago

Not looking too swift up there. I just don't do bugs at all. I've seen enough during Inspection to last a lifetime.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic (www.mrbrownsellsgr.com) about 8 years ago

Steve, I think Anobiid's are my favorite---they sure love the NW :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Charlie,

You have a mutual admiration society going with them.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this. I have a new found respect for insecticides. I will be encouraging all my clients to use them wisely and to keep an eye on their foundations.

Posted by Laurie Clark CRB Angel Realty LLC Your Monument Realtor 719-502-6572, Angel Realty, LLC (CRB-CCSS-ASD-HBS-RSD-Denver Short Sale Agents) about 8 years ago

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