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Termite Damage Repair Options

Termites love cellulose. Unfortunately that means they love wood and wood-based products. These items are found in the structural elements of many homes. Once the wood is damaged the options become obvious: repair, replace or remove the wood. Because wood can be connected to other nonwood products, this may be a costly process. Before beginning repairs, you'll need to determine the extent of the damage. Because termites can burrow into tight hidden places, not all termite damage is obvious.

Repairing Light Damage

In areas that are lightly damaged and where it is known that further damage does not exist, there is a simple repair solution.  The goal is to harden the wood. Damage of this nature is not deep.  Small termite trails look like thin (often crooked) lines impressed into soft wood with a thick needle or pencil. Locating wood-hardening products is the hardest part about this repair.  Wood-hardening products fill openings within the damaged wood and then bond with the wood and harden to restore strength in the wood product. The wood hardeners come in epoxy and nonepoxy strengths and vary as to actual penetration and temperature constraints.  Find the one that matches the circumstances and location of the damaged wood.

Repairing Nonstructural Damage

This type of damage reveals many termite trails side by side or in crazy patterns.  This damage was created over a period of time and if left for termites to return to will build and further weaken the wood. The damage reads like groups of long, rough gouges in the wood but does not remove large portions of the wood nor has it caused structural damage.  Scrape away the damage. The wood should be soft enough to use a chisel or flat metal tool to accomplish this.  The cleaned area can be filled with wood filler and then sanded to flatten out and shape the wood. The cleaned area may need further help to support the wood filler, that is, something the filler can attach to.  Attaching a group of screws into the cleared area will fulfill this necessity.

Replacing Damaged Wood

Wood that has been dramatically damaged and completely eaten through so as to be at a breaking point will need to be replaced.  This type of damage reveals the core of the wood completely eaten away by the termites leaving splintered, hollowed-out and completely missing timber. An assessment of the surrounding area should be conducted to determine the full extent of this type of damage.  In some instances damage is so extensive that a complete removal or demolition may be necessary. This can be a big undertaking if other systems--electrical wiring, plumbing, hvac--are supported by or located around the wood.  If the damaged wood is structural in nature, seek out professional help to restore the supporting elements.

Alternatives To Demolition

If you need to repair a large chunk of wood that is not a structural element, instead of completely replacing the damaged wood you can install a piece of new wood to bridge the gap left by the removed piece.  If much of the full length is damaged as previously described, then add a new piece of wood right next to the old piece. Bolt the new wood securely to the old wood. 

Professional Repair Help

Asking for the help of a professional is well-advised in areas of structural damage or if the extent of the damage is difficult to assess.  Replacing the damage with inadequate repair work or poorly implemented damage control can cause further damage in the home. Consult The National Pest Management Association (see Resources) for tips on keeping termites and other pests out of your home. 

About the Author

Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.