Signs of Termite Damage to Wood

Termites are considered social insects. This means they live in colonies. Often, the colony is built near a food source, which is usually wood. For this reason, the colony may form underground near a tree stump or near wooden features of a home. However, it is uncommon for the termites to form a colony above ground. As such, you will have to inspect the wood structures in your home for signs of termite damage at least once a year to ensure that you catch termites before they do a significant amount of damage.

Time Frame

According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, noticeable signs of termite damage to wood can take an average of 3 to 8 years to appear, depending on the width of the wood.

Hollow Sound

When you tap on wood that has been damaged by termites, the wood will sound hollow. The most effective way to check for termite damage using this sign is to tap the wood with the handle of a screwdriver or a hammer.


If the wood is painted and you notice the paint looks like it is buckling, you may have termite damage. Upon closer inspection, such as with a magnifying glass, you may notice pin holes in the paint.

Dirty Surface

As termites chew through wood, they make tunnels using a combination of feces, saliva and soil. This may look like a line of dirt on the wood, and, in some cases, you may see small wings in the area.


You may notice splinters of wood around the house, which is a sign of termite damage. This is especially true if the termites are chewing through hardwood floors.

About the Author

Casey Holley is a medical writer who began working in the health and fitness industries in 1995, while still in high school. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health administration from the University of Phoenix.