Every year about this time, the phone starts ringing in the Pinnacle Pest Control office with requests for termite home inspections and sometimes reports of swarms.

The subterranean termite species most common in our Sacramento region causes extensive damage that can remain hidden for years inside the walls and crawlspaces of your home. Historically “Delta Victorians” and “high-water bungalows” were built with crawl spaces and raised first floors as a defense against Sacramento’s historic floods. High water carried mud into the crawl spaces. Subterranean termites nest in the mud and build mud tunnels up the foundation walls and into the wood-frame home, where they burrow into the interior of boards, chew up and digest the wood from the inside. Termites eat 24-7—they never stop, unseen while the structure of your house grows steadily weaker. Winter rains leave the crawlspaces damp and muddy. In spring, temperatures climb to the mid-70s, leaving the crawlspace warm and humid, which triggers the termites to develop wings, drill an exit hole through the wall, and take off to establish new colonies. Often the swarm is the first sign a homeowner has that he or she has termites.

The damage caused by termites is extensive and economically significant. Termite damage cost estimates range from $5 billion to $16 billion nationwide, with the pesticide cost only a fraction of the total. By far the largest cost is for structural repairs, estimated at roughly five times the cost of pesticide control measures.

Customers who don’t see a swarm often have no idea they have a termite problem until the time comes to sell their homes, when they are required by law to have the homes professionally inspected for termites—potentially adding thousands of dollars to the cost of selling.

The first line of defense against termites is to get that all-important inspection. Catching a termite problem early can result in significant savings. A qualified pest control professional will conduct a thorough inspection of your property, inside and out, including your crawl space or foundation. In addition to termites, the pest control profession will also identify any dry-rot, water damage and other conditions that may make your home more susceptible to future termite infestation. The inspection may take from 45 minutes to one-and-one-half hours, depending on the size and condition of your property. Once the inspection is completed, you should receive an official report along with an estimate for any termite removal and damage repairs needed.

Termite are the stealthy menace of the pest control world, silently eating into the hearts of our homes while we eat, sleep, work and play, blissfully unaware. Be vigilant. It’s much better to invest in a professional, expert inspection today than be socked with thousands in repair bills tomorrow and a damaged home tomorrow.

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