Sign of termites or just wood movement?

abishagenadenOctober 7, 2013

We have lived in our 1-story house with hardwood floors for three years, but this is our first time experiencing this.

For the past few days or so, we have been hearing seemingly random 'pop'/'crack' sounds of varying intensities throughout a couple of the main areas in our house. To be more specific, the sounds are like those made if a grain of rice (or perhaps a metal tack)is dropped onto hard wood floor, without the 2nd bounce of course. In addition, the sounds never occur simultaneously; rather, from where and when the sounds occur, it almost seems as if a 'hard' insect is moving very quickly around and crashing into the floor and/or walls.

We have tried to track the sounds visually to see if it is indeed a bug flying around but have not seen anything (at least not in action, more on that later).

One guess is that it might just be the house expanding/contracting with the temperature changing throughout the day, however, I don't recall anything of this nature and frequency in our 3 years in the house until now.

What I am beginning to suspect however, is that we have termites. When we first bought the house we got it fumigated, and the termite warranty recently expired a few months ago, so of course this would be Murphy's Law rearing his head at just the perfect time. I have also stumbled upon 2 bugs which appear to match the description of what a winged termite looks like, according to this site:

I did not suspect termites at the time though, so I do not currently have a picture to share.

I have not however found any wood/saw dust piles, or shed trrmite ant wings yet, which I understand are other sure signs of termites.

Anyone have any idea -- termites, or just wood expanding+contracting?

And if it is termites, what in the world is causing the sounds -- are they from the winged termites bouncing off the floor/walls, or the termites eating our house from behind the walls and under the floor??

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I can't believe that you let your termite contract expire!! Or dd you just pay for a fumugation once? No inspections since then? Eeek!

I think you're expecting a great deal by hoping for an identification of these mysterious sounds. It would strike terror into my heart, lol.

Clearly, if termites are a possibility in your location, you need to call on the services of a professional for a thorough inspection. Then, sign a contract and maintain it.

If you find any more of whatever you saw, capture and save to show the termite people.

By the way, my home is making all kinds of funny sounds as the temperature and humidity levels change with the season.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Thanks rhizo. First time house-dweller here, so I hope I'm not finding things (i.e. that I should have had annual termite inspections) out the hard way!

Made a call and have a guy coming over today to check it out. He said over the phone that the cracking/popping noises could be subterranean termites, and if so he would have to find the colony and treat the soil, as fumigation would not work against that type of termite.

Sounds like he might have to go into our crawl space and check our attic.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Have him show you the termites and even the colony. In many states, a termite bonds are a part of the house buying/mortgage procuring/inspection process.

When we bought this house, the previous owner had to have the house inspected and bonded because he hadn't kept up with the inspections. That shyster wouldn't transfer ownership to us, but when he came out to fineagle a new contract, he was so disreputable looking that I wouldn't even let him in the house!

Our home is inspected twice per year, inside and out. The bond covers all costs of treatment and repairs, if ever needed. Home insurance doesn't usually cover termite damage.

Do some research about how to be a smart finding out how long a company has been in business, any bad reviews with BBB, is the bond transferable, etc.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:20PM
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We bought the house "as is" at the time, and got it fumigated and also treated the subterreanean/soil, per the original termite company's report. I saw a mailed reminder from the termite company that our 2-year warranty was expiring but didn't think anything of it at the time.

The (new) inspector is actually in our house right now. Found his company on Yelp -- had 20+ 5-star reviews and had been voted best in our city 3 years in a row. So far he's inspected all our windows and attic, and is changing into his coveralls right now so he can inspect under the house (which is why I have time to write this email).

He's found 2 spots of minor drywood termite activity in the attic which will not require outright fumigation, and 1 major spot of subterreanean termite activity in the base of our bay window. He said now being termite season, it's a good/lucky that he didn't see any other signs of termites (wings/droppings) up in the attic, though he did disclaim that the floorboards up there are inaccessible so he couldn't check that area.

Right now it's extremely likely that we will have to gut the base of our bay window out, treat it, and then put it back in. Hopefully he doesn't find anything else major when crawling under, as I type this he's literally crawling down there now.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Well as he was going under he said we have an 'outdoor' roach infestation too. I've seen some around our driveway and trash can area at night, but never during the day and we've not had any in the house. What's next!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:37PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Where you live in the US makes a difference as to which termites you might have, also whether or not a continuing termite management/treatment/inspection contract is wise.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:16AM
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Thanks jean -- we are in Los Angeles, CA.

The inspector ended up recommending:
1) Fumigation (because he found 2 different areas of minor drywood termite infestation)
2) Spot treatment (cheaper option but less peace of mind than #1 above)
3) Subterranean treatment for the subterranean termites

#1 and #3 come with 3-year warranties, and #2 comes with a 1-year warranty.

Initial quotes look to be pretty pricey so I'm looking into getting one or two other quotes from other companies.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:29AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Info re termite management from Univ California:

Here is a link that might be useful: termite management in CA

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 4:40PM
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