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Termites can seriously damage the structure of a house or building. Many years ago, it was considered sufficient to have only a termite inspection performed before purchasing a home. If there was no evidence of an active termite infestation, it was assumed that the building had no termite damage or structural damage. In some cases, there was serious termite damage to the structure of the home or building that was not found until after the purchase.
In addition to the pre-purchase inspection performed by an Engineer, have a termite inspection performed by a qualified termite control specialist. The termite control specialist can recommend treatment options to control an existing termite infestation. A qualified termite control specialist can also recommend options to help prevent future termite infestations.
A termite control specialist cannot assess the structural impact of termite damage. You need a Licensed Engineer to assess the structural impact of any termite damage. The Engineer evaluates the structural impact of any accessible termite damage in the home or building. If repairs are needed, the expense analysis in the engineering report can help you understand the expenses.
Termite control specialists and Engineers check differently for termite evidence. Engineers look for the impact of the termites and termite damage, particularly if the damage is structural. A termite control specialist is looking at the need for termite control measures.
For these reasons, it is strongly recommend that you have the house or building checked for termites by both a Licensed Engineer and a termite control specialist. This maximizes your chances of finding termite activity and structural damage. You should also obtain a warranty against future termite activity from the termite control specialist.
Who Can Inspect For Termites?
There is a lot of misleading information on the web regarding termite inspections. You will see statements such as licensed termite inspector, New York State licensed termite inspection, New York approved termite inspector, trained in termite inspections by New York, New York certified termite inspector, and many more.
The State of New York neither trains nor licenses termite inspectors. The State of New York licenses pesticide applicators and pesticide technicians. In the State of New York, you are required to be licensed to purchase or apply pesticides, including pesticides used in the control of termites.
Licensed Engineers inspect for termites in their role as Engineers. An Engineer is knowledgeable about what termite evidence looks like, what conditions make it likely termites will damage a building, where termites are most likely to be found, etc. In addition, a Licensed Engineer checks for structural damage caused by termites.
Termite inspections by pesticide applicators should be performed as part of the real estate purchase process after the stored material has been removed. In addition, termite inspections are performed as part of the normal maintenance of a building. The Licensed Engineer will advise you when termite inspections are needed as part of normal maintenance.
Termites Feed On Wood
Termites feed on wood and serve an important function by converting dead trees into organic matter. Termites (sometimes called white ants) have microorganisms in their digestive system that help digest cellulose.
Although termites are soft-bodied insects, their hard jaws bite off small fragments of wood. As the termites feed on the wood in buildings, they can cause serious structural damage. Damage is often significant, as the termites feed on the structural wood nearest the ground.
In the northeast, termites nest in the earth and attack wood that is close to the ground. In a forest, this is beneficial as dead branches from the trees are recycled and enrich the soil. In a building, termites can be quite destructive. Some areas, such as Long Island, have a lot of termite activity. Other areas (such as Northern Westchester County) have lower levels of termite activity.
Regardless of the level of termite activity in your area, it is essential to check for evidence of a termite infestation, as well as any structural damage caused by termites.
Carpenter ants sometimes feed on termites. For this reason, you will usually not find both insects in the same areas of a home or building.
How Old Is The
Under conditions favorable to termites, a termite colony of 60,000 workers can consume a one-foot length of two by four in as little as four months. Under less ideal conditions, it can take as long as eight years for termites to cause noticeable damage. Multiple termite colonies will consume more wood.
Termite activity may remain undetectable even after serious termite damage is done. Termite activity may remain undetected for many reasons, including:
- Termite swarms that have been ignored by the current owner of the house or building;
- Termite activity may be ongoing, and be hidden behind walls and under the floors
- Termite activity may be concealed behind stored materials in the basement;
- Termite activity typically occurs beneath the surface of visible wood beams structural elements
Nobody can see through walls or through wood beams. An Engineer evaluates the structural effects of termites. A termite control specialist can will look for termite evidence, and issue a warranty covering treatment of future termite activity. To maximize your protection, a termite inspection should be performed by both an Engineer and a termite control specialist.
Subterranean termites live in nests called colonies. A colony of subterranean termites may be as deep as 20 feet below the soil surface. Termites travel through mud tubes to reach food sources.
A mature termite colony has termite reproductives, termite soldiers, and termite workers. A termite colony takes about five years to mature and may include up to 200,000 workers.
New termite colonies are formed when winged termite reproductives swarm from a parent colony.
The winged termite reproductives are dark brown or brownish black and have two equal size pairs of wings. These wings extend well beyond the termite reproductive's body. Swarms of termite reproductives are common in spring and fall, but can occur at any time of the year.
After a short flight, the termite reproductives shed their wings. These wings are often the first sign of termite activity in a home or building. The termite reproductives pair off and search for sources of wood and moisture in soil. The pair of termite reproductives dig a chamber in the soil near wood, enters the chamber, and seals the opening. After mating, the termite queen starts laying eggs. The termite queen may live as long as 25 years and lay over 50,000 eggs annually.
Termite workers are wingless, blind, and creamy white in color. This is why termites are sometimes referred to as white ants. In early stages, termite workers are fed pre-digested food by the king and queen.
Once termite workers are mature enough to digest wood, they provide food for the entire termite colony. The termite workers perform the labor in the termite colony. It is the termite workers that damage the structure. Termite workers can live up to five years.
Termite soldiers are wingless and blind. Termite soldiers are equipped with two jaws, but depend on worker termites for food. Termite soldiers defend the colony against invaders, and can live for as long as five years.
The Difference Between
Termites And Carpenter Ants
Flying ants and swarming termites can be difficult to tell apart. Flying ants have elbowed antennae, while termites have relatively straight, bead-like antennae. Flying ants have two pairs of wings, but one pair of wings is much larger than the other pair.
Termites have two pairs of wings that are of almost equal length. The thorax of the ant is joined by a narrow waist, while the termite's thorax is broadly joined. Regardless of whether you see ants or termites, you should have the situation evaluated by a qualified pest control specialist.
Trust a Licensed Engineer to assess the structural impact of termite damage.
During the inspection, the Licensed Engineer examines, analyzes, and/or reports on (as appropriate based on the building):
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Heimer Engineering serves the Metro New York area, including New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County), and Upstate New York (Rockland County, Putnam County, and Westchester County).
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In the event of a life-threatening emergency (fire, building in danger of collapse, facade with loose bricks, debris falling from a building, gas leak, etc.) do not call Heimer Engineering. If there is a life-threatening emergency or other hazardous condition, call 911. Emergency situations need to be handled immediately by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, have utilities shut off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.
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Heimer Engineering performs home inspections, building inspections, condominium inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York. We do not perform inspections or recommend Inspectors or Engineers in the areas outside of the State of New York. We also provide Licensed Professional Engineer consultation services including hurricane and storm damage and damage from adjoining construction. Expert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.
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2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 230
Commack, New York, USA 11725-2947
New York Metro Area: 800.605.1500
Bronx, New York: 718.547.2000
Brooklyn, New York: 718.237.7777
Manhattan, New York: 212.563.4777
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International Standard of Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 4 Classification: 71
North American Industry Classification System (SAISC) Classification: 541330, 541350