How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Termites only eat cellulose-containing materials like wood and paper; but they have been known to tunnel through softer materials, like thin plastic, to get at the cellulose. Lime mortar that was once used to lay brick for older homes is another material soft enough that they sometimes are able to bore through it.
Solid concrete blocks and mortar are not penetrable, but any gaps in the mortar can provide a route to the other side where the good stuff is. Two worker termites can fit easily on the head of a match, so even a crack like the one shown at the top of the page is enough for them to squeeze through.
Also, termites can easily crawl unnoticed up into the wood wall framing of a house behind behind any brick or manufactured stone facing that extends to the ground, like in the photo below.
The first sign that subterranean termites have a found a way into your house is usually seen at the baseboard of an exterior wall. Because they eat right up to the paint finish, but not through it, tapping or lightly probing the wood for soft spots may turn up evidence, like in the photo below, that it’s time to call a pest control company.
For more on this, along with other termite legends, some of which are even true, go to our blog post Do termites eat concrete?
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