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Interior Inspection

Termite damage to doorframe

Interior termite damage
Even in brick-and-steel buildings there is still plenty of food for termites.
The process of inspecting the interior of a structure is very similar across all construction types. Interior inspections can be more or less important depending on the type of construction used in the structure as well as the number of conducive conditions to infestation that are associated with the structure. For example, a pier-and-beam house with solid concrete piers, easy accessibility to the crawl space and no conducive conditions may not need an interior inspection at all. Conversely, an interior inspection is vital in an historic French Quarter building using floating-slab construction with common walls on either side. 

A good rule to use is: The less that you can see outside, the more that you need to see inside.  

Based on this rule, it may be necessary for the inspector to access all of the rooms in a structure including closets, storage rooms and attics. 

Termite damage to window frame
Termite damage is visible in this window frame. (Photo by Chris Dunaway)
Examine door and window frames for signs of infestation. Damaged wood often appears wavy and may sound hollow when tapped. During the annual mating season, the termites may build swarm castles from the frames that are easily visible. 

Termite damage to baseboard
This baseboard is infested with Formosan termites. Notice how the wood appears wavy. (Photo by Chris Dunaway)
Similar to door and window frames, baseboards and other molding will often appear wavy and sound hollow when tapped if they have been damaged by termites.

Termite damage to wood floor
This floor has been damaged by Formosan termites. Notice how the damage is in a rough line. This is because the termites are following the grain of the wood. (Photo by Chris Dunaway)
Termites can damage many types of wood flooring. Look for damage and buckling, and feel for weak areas as you walk around. Water damage can appear similar but will not sound hollow when tapped. It may be necessary to remove floor coverings to reveal the damage.

Termite tubes and nest visible in attic
Look for mud tubes, nest material and damaged wood in attics. (Photo by Chris Dunaway)
Attics can be a very important part of an interior inspection for two main reasons:
  1. Subterranean termites will often move very high up in a structure before spreading out; therefore, the attic may be the first place that they will be visible.
  2. Because the vulnerable structural wood is usually covered with drywall, plaster or other materials, the attics are the only place where exposed wood and damage are visible. 

Attics can be very dangerous places. 


Checking breakouts in a wall
An inspector probes termite breakouts in a wall. (Photo by Chris Dunaway)
For walls and ceilings covered with drywall or plaster, look for exit holes and swarm castles. These will begin to appear just prior to the annual mating season. These locations will be very active with live termites during the mating season. After the mating season, it may be difficult to find termites at these sites.  

Wooden walls or walls covered with paneling or other wood coverings can be damaged by termites. Look for wood that appears wavy and for dirt deposited by termites in cracks or seams.  

Brick, block and concrete walls can have shelter tubes built on the surface and can also have swarm castles appear in the joints.
Last Updated: 5/9/2012 7:26:15 AM
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