How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Is a borate treatment effective for termite prevention?
Monday, February 1, 2021
Liquid borate treatments are used by some builders in our area for creating the ground-level termite barrier required by the State of Florida for new houses. It’s sprayed over the first three feet of wood up from the floor slab and the solution usually has a green tint to mark where it has been applied. The treatment is environmentally friendly and supposed to keep termites from reaching the untreated wood above it.
Borate is a slow-acting stomach poison. Unfortunately, termites are sometimes able to run their mud tubes between or across the treated areas without consuming any of it, and then continue munching further up along the untreated wall studs of the house.
An example of this is shown above, from a home that is less than five years old. You are looking up from near the ground and between two borate-treated wood studs, with the bottom of a flush-mount electrical panel visible at the top of the picture. Arrows point to mud tubes crossing the green area of borate treatment, running up the groove between the wall and a stud, and a large mud tube (at right) climbing up the drywall. The termites continued going, right across the electrical panel, and were heading towards the roof trusses when we discovered them.
While liquid borate has several advantages, such as being non-poisonous to pets and not requiring ground injection, it is not recommended by many pest control professionals as the sole termite prevention treatment. By the way, the wood frame and trim at the front door and sidelite of the same home had also been termite-damaged. This is likely because the door assembly was not installed until after the borate treatment and untreated wood was in contact with the floor slab.
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To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:
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