No homeowner wants to deal with a termite infestation, but unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence in thousands of U.S. homes. Every year, termites infiltrate 600,000 properties, causing a collective $5 billion in damage. Termite damage repair costs range from $250 on the low end to $40,000 on the high end.
Typically, the longer you wait to conduct termite extermination, the more expensive it becomes. It’s important to understand that termites don’t come alone, they often come in large swarms, which can make it difficult to eliminate termite colonies from your home indefinitely. Termite treatment should last for about five years. However, homeowners who identify a termite infestation in its later stages often have to re-exterminate their homes as early as six months down the line.
The key to fixing a termite issue in your home is identifying it as soon as possible and exterminating all affected areas. In this article, we’ll discuss what a termite infestation is, the early signs of termite infestation, how to repair different kinds of termite damage within the home, and how to pay for termite damage repairs.
What is a termite infestation?
A termite infestation is the entry of a termite colony into a home or other building. Termites eat cellulose, which can be found in plants and trees outdoors. Within the home, cellulose can only be found in structures made of wood, paper, or cardboard. As a result, homeowners will often find termites gathered in and around their walls, dry wood, and even furniture. Not only is the presence of termites inside your home uncomfortable to think about, but it can also lead to expensive termite damage repairs.
What are the signs of a termite infestation?
Termites can cause an alarming amount of property damage. Luckily, there are clear warning signs of a termite infestation within the home, such as buckling support beams, chipped tiles, and faulty wallpaper. Keep an eye out for the following signs when checking your home for termites:
One of the most dangerous indications of a termite infestation is structural damage. Dipping ceilings, buckling support beams, and blistered floors are three of the most common signs of termite damage that compromise your home's structural integrity. Although modern homes come with steel support beams, older homes often have wooden support beams, which are prime targets for termites.
Subterranean termites can reach your home’s wooden support beams through the subfloor, which is the area that provides a flat, stable surface for your carpet or hardwood floors to lie on. It is located immediately beneath your home’s floor covering.
Termites gnawing through your home’s wooden support beams can cause them to buckle. If any wooden structure on your property starts to take on a wavy or crooked appearance, this could be a sign that termites have made their way into your home. You may also want to knock on walls or anywhere in your home where there is wood. A hollow sound indicates insufficient wood, which could have been eaten by a gallery of termites.
When termites enter your home through the subfloor located in your kitchen or bathroom, they often loosen bathroom and kitchen tiles. Wooden floorboards buckle and blister, but ceramic tiles won’t. They’ll simply loosen above the floorboard and may crack or slide around as you walk over them. Loose tiles around your kitchen and bathroom walls are also worth evaluating, given that termites often establish residence in your home’s walls.
Termites will often chew through drywall and cause wallpaper to bubble. Bubbling wallpaper is common when it’s first installed because of air pockets that form during the application process. However, this shouldn’t persist once the wallpaper application has dried. Pin-sized holes in your home’s drywall or wallpaper may also be a sign that termites are eating their way through.
Most of the time, termites remain inside your walls and beneath your floors. However, their wings are discarded along windows and doors. Termites are naturally attracted to sunlight, which causes them to fly towards your home’s entry points. They settle around doors and windows when they realize they can’t get out. Termites will intentionally twist off their wings once they land, leaving behind evidence of their journey.
Termite droppings (frass)
Another way termites leave behind evidence of their presence is through droppings, also known as frass. Frass pellets resemble piles of sawdust or coffee grounds and can be found anywhere within the home where a gallery of termites has been established. To survive, dry wood termites need to keep their galleries clean. They create small holes in walls where they can kick out their droppings. Although their kick-out holes may be hard to find, the accumulation of their droppings usually isn’t.
Termites entering your home from the ground create pencil-sized mud tubes that extend from one food source to another. Trails of mud tubes are often located between an outdoor termite food source, such as a tree or a shed, and anywhere the ground meets your house. These trails are small, so they can be difficult to find when snow or leaves accumulate around your home. Keep up with landscaping in the colder months to increase your chances of spotting this early sign of termite infestation.
How to fix structural vs. cosmetic termite damage
When termites attack wooden structures in the home, they can cause two types of property damage: structural and cosmetic. Here’s what you need to know about the cost of fixing termite damage in both instances:
Structural termite damage
Arguably, the most difficult damage to repair is the damage caused to the structure of your home. Termites can eat through your home’s beams, drywalls, and siding. Common structural repairs include:
- Replacing rotted wooden beams ($1,500–$5,000 each)
- Patching up holes in drywall ($60–$200 per hole)
- Replacing wood siding ($1,000–$37,500)
- Fixing sagging floors and subfloors ($300 per square foot)
- Repairing dipped ceilings ($250–$1,000 total)
Cosmetic termite damage
Cosmetic termite damage refers to the superficial damage caused by termite infestations. Unlike structural repairs, some cosmetic repairs can be completed by the homeowners themselves. However, depending on the extent of cosmetic damage sustained, you may want a professional to conduct repairs. Common cosmetic repairs include:
- Fixing wall discoloration ($2–$6 per square foot)
- Refinishing hardwood flooring ($3-$8 per square foot)
- Repainting walls ($4–$8 per square foot)
- Leveling uneven wood surfaces ($5–$25 per square foot)
- Buying new wooden furniture ($299–$5,000 each)
Understanding the severity of termite damage repairs
Termite damage can be minimal or extensive. How you address the damage will depend on termite species, where they are located, and how long they have been in the home. The size of a termite swarm also impacts the rate at which property damage progresses. A large swarm can take up more space and move faster than a small one.
Some termite species are more destructive than others. Formosan termite colonies, in particular, are known to cause extensive property damage in as little as two years. Property owners can easily miss the signs of a termite infestation if they don’t live on the property themselves, which is why it’s important to conduct regular maintenance checks.
Ideally, you’ll be able to spot a termite infestation sooner rather than later. This allows homeowners to limit property damage to just one or two areas of the home. Small-scale termite damage repair can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000. This might include a termite inspection, extermination fees, and replacing a few floorboards.
Financing medium- to large-scale termite damage repairs
Homeowners who are unable to detect a termite infestation in less than six months may need to spend more on repairs. Medium-scale termite damage repair costs from $1,000 to $3,000. This could include applying large amounts of termite treatment throughout the home and replacing damaged flooring, walls, or house framing.
Rarely do termite infestations result in structurally unsound homes. However, structural damage is possible if a termite infestation is left unattended for an extended amount of time. In the worst-case scenario, your home may become uninhabitable and require major structural replacements. Extensive termite damage repair costs start at $3,000 and can go up to $10,000 or more. In this case, termite repairs may require multiple exterminations and the replacement of large amounts of damaged wood.
Financing termite damage home repairs can be difficult. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t usually cover termite damage since termite infestations are considered preventable. As a result, property owners often either take out a home improvement loan or dip into their savings to pay for expensive termite damage repairs. Luckily, there are other ways to pay for home repairs that don’t require taking out an interest-bearing loan or depleting your savings.
Final thoughts on termite damage repairs
Termite infestations don’t always announce themselves, which can make it difficult and expensive to repair the damage left behind. If your home requires large-scale termite repairs, but you’re unsure how to fund necessary home renovations, consider a Home Equity Investment (HEI) with Point. You may want to take this as an opportunity to strengthen other areas of your home and make it more resistant to termite infestations and other types of property damage in the future.