How To Look At A House

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Is the WDO (termite) inspector allowed to poke holes in my wood siding and trim?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection is a Florida state-licensed and regulated activity. Although it is often referred to as a “termite inspection,” the inspector is also required to look for evidence of wood decay fungi (wood rot) and wood-destroying beetles. 

Sounding Wood

    The inspection is essentially visual, but the inspector is allowed to sound and probe wood surfaces to look for any WDO problems. “Sounding” is the process of tapping the wood and listening for a dull sound that indicates hollow termite galleries or wood rot underneath the paint surface.  Solid wood makes a clear, “bright” knock. It is not a destructive inspection technique, and we don’t know of any consumer complaints about sounding.

Probing Wood

   But wood probing is a different matter. Sometimes home sellers are upset about the holes left in the wood around the exterior of their home by an inspector probing for soft, damaged wood. If a probe can penetrate the wood, that means it is damaged and needs to be repaired in order to get a “clean” WDO report—which is required for some federally-insured types of financing.

    Because probing is necessary for a thorough inspection, it is referred to in the Florida Administrative Code [5E-14.142(5)(c)(2)] for WDO inspections with the following statement: “The inspection will be visual but may include probing and sounding of structural members as deemed necessary by the inspector, based upon a preliminary finding of visual evidence of infestation or damage.”

Limits Determined By Baseline Practices

   There is also a further delineation of the limits of probing in a document entitled “Baseline Practices for a WDO Inspection,” which was prepared by a committee of pest control industry professionals in coordination with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and is intended to provide a consensus on Good Industry Practice Standards (GIPS). This is their definition of probing:

“Probing” - the act of penetrating through the surface of a suspected area to determine the type of WDO present. Probing will cause some degree of “defacement of property.” Defacing property shall be strictly limited to that which is required to determine the type of WDO damage/evidence present.

    So probing is allowed, and a limited amount of defacement of property is acceptable, but only as necessary to determine the type of wood destroying organism causing the damage. Digging out all of the soft wood to determine the extent of the damage is not defined as acceptable.

    Some inspectors use a large screwdriver to probe wood for soft spots of damage. We use a knife with the intent of limiting the size of the probed opening in the wood. But, whatever tool is used by the inspector, gouging out large areas of soft wood angers home sellers and is not allowed.

Dowload The Baseline Practices

    To download a copy of the Florida Baseline Standards for a WDO Inspection, click on the link below. 


If You Need To File A Complaint

    And if you have a complaint about a Florida-licensed pest control operator, you can get a complaint form at the FDACS website at:

More Info On Wood Rot Inspection

    For more details on how a home inspector checks for wood rot, see our blog post How does a home inspector evaluate wood rot?    

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
Field Guide for Home Inspectors, a quick reference for finding the age of 154 brands of HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical panels, plus 210 code standards for site-built and manufactured homes, and the life expectancy rating of 195 home components. Available at for $19.95.
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To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:

Should I be worried about termites if my neighbor's house is being tented?

Do carpenter ants cause structural damage to houses in Florida?

How long before closing can you have a WDO (termite) inspection done?

How long does Bora-Care® last? 

 Why is it a mistake to store lumber in the crawl space under a house?

Does the presence of carpenter ants in a house indicate that there are probably also termites? 

How do termites infest a house and remain hidden while doing major damage?

Are homes in Florida required to have termite protection? 

If termite damage appears to be old, does that mean that termites may no longer be present?

Does wood chip mulch in the yard attract termites?

I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?

I'm buying a concrete block house. Do I still need a termite inspection? 

• I saw a little termite damage on the baseboard. Should I be concerned?

   Visit our TERMITES, WOOD ROT AND PESTS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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