Are Homes Or Buildings Ever At Risk Of Collapsing Due To Extensive Termite Damage?

Termites are not the only insects that damage structural wood within homes. For example, while carpenter ants may not feed on wood like termites do, these destructive ant species tunnel within structural lumber for nesting purposes. There also exists a group of solitary bees known as carpenter bees that nest within sources of structural lumber, but the damage they cause is usually cosmetic as opposed to structural. Much like termites, powderpost beetle larvae are one of the few wood-infesting insect groups that do feed on the wood that makes up a home’s structural frame, and several other beetle species infest structural wood as well. While all these insects inflict costly damage to structural wood, none of them can damage structural wood to the point where a home or building may collapse as a result. Except for termites, that is.

While termite infestations can last years before a homeowner notices damage, structural collapse due to termite damage is virtually unheard of in the US. However, New Orleans has seen more termite destruction to homes and buildings than most other urban areas in the world. So if termite damage were to bring down an entire building in any city, it would most certainly be in New Orleans. While no major buildings have collapsed in New Orleans solely on account of termite damage, at least one structure in the city came close six years ago. This incident saw the cafeteria/auditorium area of the Sophie B. Wright charter school nearly collapse in 2013 due to extensive termite damage. The termite damage was first noticed while the school had been occupied by hundreds of students and staff, which prompted the Orleans Parish School Board to declare a “public emergency.” The termite damage was extensive enough for school board officials to declare the structure an immediate threat to the health and safety of its occupants. Following an “emergency meeting” among school board leaders, the damage began undergoing immediate repairs. The structure underwent renovations for the next two years, but eventually the school was brought up to code.

Have you ever walked inside of a home that you knew to be, or suspected of being infested by termites?

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