What are the pests you should look for when buying an older home?

March 30, 2021

When buying an older home, you should engage with a licensed pest control company experienced in looking for pests common to older structures. Depending on the year the house was built, the home structure may have experienced long-term degradation of construction materials, structural settling, and the destructive impact of nature and the weather. Always schedule a pest inspection before buying a home.

Underlying issues create open access for pests

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Older homes were built much smaller than by today’s standards. The need for finished basements, oversized family rooms, office space, and three-car garages sparked a significant boom in remodeling and construction. Poorly constructed additions or remodeling projects that did not attend to the pest issues uncovered at that time make the house appear to be beautiful. Yet, underneath lives destructive pests and possibly nuisance wildlife.

Structural challenges and how pests can enter and damage an older home

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  • Chimneys are not adequately maintained and capped with stainless steel mesh barriers. Easy access provides a home for bats to roost, and squirrels, and raccoons to climb down and enter your home.
  • Improper or lack of flashing allows water to seep into the roofing and siding create a host of issues from termites and ants to mold.
  • Older homes often lack ridge vents. Ridge vents appear on the peak of the home’s roof and allow damp, warm air to escape the attic. Ridge vents are a wise investment to prolong your roof’s life and the health of your attic and home.
  • Access to crawl space and attics are often non-existent in older homes. Without access, your home or pest control inspector cannot access the area to perform a proper inspection. Should you find issues after the purchase, such as an odor, leaking, or signs of mold, without access, you cannot correctly vent, remediate, or treat the area properly.
  • Long-term damage from storms and weather creates an easy entry into your home for pests and nuisance wildlife. Downed trees and power lines litter our streets and neighborhoods. The storm damage to homes is not always visible yet present.
  • The use of non-treated wood welcomes wood-destroying insects. A Wood Destroying Insect Report (WDI) Report is often a requirement when you buy, refinance, or sell a home. Usually, the WDI Report is part of a home inspection and documents the home’s condition regarding wood-destroying insects.

Common pests found when buying an older home

There are challenges with pests and buying an older home. As mentioned above, wood-destroying insects are most concerning. If an older home has been abandoned for some time, you may wish to engage with a pest control company to inspect for signs of nuisance wildlife as well.

Termites.

Termites have been chewing through wood and structures made from wood for literally millions of years. They are incredibly tenacious and can remain unseen, even after you think they are gone. Termites love the dark and feed below the foundation levels of structures. They look for opportunities where wood meets the ground and is often damp. They bore through these surfaces and other entry prospects via cracked foundations or in brick or stone facing. 

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Subterranean (underground) termites cause most termite damage. Subterranean termite nests usually contact the soil, thus the name subterranean. They will eat your framing starting at the bottom of the house and like softwoods. Drywood termites enter the roofline and damp wood termites like basements and bathrooms or where water leaks occur.

Carpenter bees. 

As a homeowner, you may have seen the telltale signs of carpenter bees and not realized what you were looking at. Carpenter bees create perfectly round holes in your deck, railing, or wooden furniture. These bees drill into the wood but do not produce the same damage that carpenter ants or termites present. Carpenter bees weaken the wood via the tunnels created and the opportunity for water to enter and rot the wood, especially on the home’s siding. If there are visible holes, it may be a sign that there are more access points in places you cannot easily see, such as soffits and wood siding.

Carpenter bee in a hole.

Carpenter bee entering a drilled hole.

Woodboring beetles. 

Woodboring beetles, such as powderpost beetles, common furniture beetles, or woodworms, can damage wood in and around your home. According to the University of Kentucky, Discovering powderpost beetles can be very concerning to homeowners. It is important to diagnose the problem correctly in order to avoid unnecessary effort and expense. Confirmation of the type of beetle, and whether the infestation is active are crucial first steps. Other considerations include the location and extent of the infestation, and the type, age, moisture content, and condition/surface finish of the wood. Since powderpost beetles damage wood slowly, take time to consider the options available for remediation.

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Woodworm holes in an old piece of furniture

Carpenter ants.

A home provides carpenter ants with a place to nest and a reliable food source. Carpenter ants build nests in the soft, damp, or dead wood. Their mandibles are super strong, and like carpenter bees, they do not eat the wood. They discard it as they work to create their nests. Homeowners will notice piles of discarded wood shavings, and some have heard the ants chewing the wood, evidence of a large colony. Carpenter ant swarmers are an accurate signal of carpenter ant infestation. These winged relatives of carpenter ants are larger and more mobile than the regular carpenter ant.

Group of carpenter ants on the wall. Close up

Your home is more than an investment.

Whether purchasing new or old, your home is more than an investment. Keeping your family members and pets safe and healthy is your number one goal. At Accurate Pest Control, we feel the same way about every home we visit. Contact us for an inspection before purchasing your home or after the purchase to maintain a nuisance wildlife and pest-free environment.

About Accurate Pest Control

Established in 2004, Accurate Pest Control is a fully licensed and insured family-owned and operated business. Our New York State licenses include mold remediation, pest control, and nuisance wildlife services. Our team of service technicians and office staff are NYS certified. We know each other and trust each other and, in turn, trust our technicians with you, your home or business, family, and even pets. We service the capital district and surrounding areas but are not limited to:
Albany County, Columbia County, Fulton County, Green County, Montgomery County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, Warren County, Washington County.

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Resources: University of Kentucky Entomology.

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