Concrete & Termites

There is an urban legend that says that termites can eat through concrete to get into a home. In fact, termites do not eat concrete. They can squeeze through very tiny cracks, so it sometimes seems like they have eaten their way through.

Formosan subterranean termites live in very large colonies. They have been known to enlarge a crack in a concrete slab so that more termites could get through to the food inside the home.

Termites often enter homes by crawling up the foundation. If they must travel in the open, they usually make tubes of dirt so they can stay covered. If the tubes are on the outside of the foundation, homeowners often see them. However, if the tubes are inside the crawl space, the termites often stay hidden for a long time. If the termites can find a crack in the foundation, they can easily travel undisturbed from the ground to the home above.

Homes that are built on slabs often have tiny cracks. Some of the cracks happen while the new concrete is drying. Other cracks may appear if the soil settles under the slab. When termites find these cracks, they move up into the home.

Termites have been found traveling under carpeting from a crack in the slab. The termites were traveling to the nearest wall where they attacked the wooden sill and studs.

Termites also enter homes through expansion joints. Expansion joints are also known as "cold joints". They happen wherever two slabs meet. Very large buildings often have expansion joints at regular intervals. Warehouses, shopping centers, town homes, and apartment buildings often have expansion joints.

Houses that are built on slabs can also have expansion joints. Bay windows, patios, garages, and carports are often separate slabs from the main structure. There are often expansion joints between these slabs. Termites frequently enter homes through these joints, even if there was felt or some other material installed in the joint.

Homes that are built on concrete slabs have openings in the concrete where pipes enter the home. Some of these openings are barely big enough for the pipe to go through. Others, like the bath trap, can be large openings in the concrete. Termites use these openings to enter the home. They attack the wood inside the wall where the pipe comes into the home.

Experts recommend having periodic termite inspections. Many termite control professionals offer this service. These experts can identify the signs of termite activity. They can also point out any termite entryways that can be sealed or modified.