Why Homes In Louisiana Are Uniquely Vulnerable To Termite Attacks

Termite infestations occur in homes located in every state within the continental US, but homes in certain regions are more prone to termite attacks than others. In order to indicate where termites are most problematic, researchers have divided the US map into different “zones”. Not surprisingly, Louisiana is designated as a hot-spot for termite activity, and no state in the US comes close to matching Louisiana’s rate of Formosan subterranean termite infestations. Several factors make homes in Louisiana prone to developing termite infestations, and some of these factors will come as a disappointment to residents of the state.

Since termites require wet, warm and humid living conditions in order to thrive, it is no wonder why their populations are so abundant in Louisiana’s swampy landscape. In addition to the termite-friendly climate, Louisiana’s typical raised-floor homes, as well as the air conditioning within these homes, create conditions that are ideal for supporting healthy termite colonies. According to Claudette Reichel of the LSU AgCenter, raised floors become saturated with moisture to the point of wetness during Louisiana summers due to a combination of air conditioning and impenetrable wood finishing on the surface of internal wood flooring.

Air conditioning homes in humid climates causes outdoor water vapor  to rise into a home’s relatively dry internal climate. This water vapor saturates the subfloor, but does not permeate the wood finish that coats the internal floor, causing the subfloor to become damp. Also, air conditioning makes a home’s subfloor cooler than the outdoor dew point, resulting in the formation of condensation on the subfloor facing the soil below a house. The colder the air conditioning, the more water-saturated the subfloor becomes, and since water cannot permeate the indoor wood finish, the subfloor becomes more and more damp as the summer season progresses.

Since raised-floors and air conditioning are unavoidable in Louisiana homes during the summer, it is recommended that homeowners in the state cover the subfloor, the crawl space soil and the outer crawl space barrier that borders a house with plastic sheathing in order to prevent water vapor from saturating subfloor wood. This will prevent termites from gravitating toward appetizing wet wood beneath a home’s crawl space.

Do you live within a raised-floor home? Were you aware of the above described risk of termite infestations in raised-floor homes?

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