Outdated And Modern Construction Practices That Make Homes Vulnerable To Subterranean Termite Infestations

Of all cities in the US, New Orleans sees the greatest amount of annual structural damage inflicted by Formosan subterranean termites. This is partly due to the prevalence of old oak trees lining residential streets in the French Quarter, which Formosans readily infest. Half of all oak trees in the French quarter have sustained damage from these ravenous pests, but it is the prevalence of centuries old structures that make the French Quarter the primary hotspot for Formosan subterranean termite pest activity in the US.

Older structures are particularly vulnerable to subterranean termite damage because they were constructed long before termite-resistant construction practices became the norm in the country. Modern building codes require the lowest structural lumber components in homes and buildings to be elevated several inches above the ground in order to restrict termite access, but French Quarter structures lack this design feature. Naturally, this makes subterranean termite infestations unusually common in New Orleans where large urban centers are made up almost exclusively of structures that were built well over a century ago.

Today, stucco and brick veneer exteriors often penetrate ground soil, which allows subterranean termites to tunnel into homes unnoticed. Most subterranean termite infestations are first noticed by the presence of mud tunnels that the pests build on the exterior walls of cement and brick masonry foundations. However, homes that are covered in stucco and brick veneer coating hide termite mud tunnels when they occur. Because of this, subterranean termite infestations in stucco and brick veneer homes are not often noticed until major structural damage has been inflicted. It is also common to pile gravel or wood mulch against the exterior foundation walls of homes, but this practice causes moisture build-up, which attracts subterranean termites. While excessive amounts of wood mulch should not be piled around homes for termite control purposes, gravel prevents moisture from escaping from soil, and therefore, homes surrounded by gravel are vulnerable to termite infestations.

Is your home surrounded by excessive amounts of gravel or mulch?

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