While drywood and dampwood termite species prefer to feast on the cellulose contained within wood and other forms of plant matter, these two termite groups do not dwell and forage within soil; instead, these two termite groups dwell within and feed upon individual pieces of wood, such as rotten logs, and manmade wooden objects, like furniture. Drywood or dampwood termite infestations can spread to structural wood when the wooden objects that they infest are brought into a home. To put it simply, drywood and dampwood termites consume the wood that they inhabit, but they do not come to infest homes by traveling through soil, as subterranean termite species do. This is why subterranean termites are responsible for the majority of termite damage inflicted to structures. Unfortunately, homes in Massachusetts are at a moderate to heavy risk of becoming infested with termites, as the most destructive termite species in the country, the eastern subterranean termite, is native to the state. In order for these termites to gain access to the structural wood within a home from the soil where they dwell, they often have to make it past a home’s concrete slab foundation. Although this may seem impossible, eastern subterranean termites rarely fail to access structural wood located on the other side of a concrete foundation.
Subterranean termites are able to access a home’s structural wood by traveling through a concrete slab’s narrow expansion joints, or through cracks and crevices in the concrete foundation. Termites have also been found squeezing through the small concrete openings that surround utility cable penetrations that lead into homes. Amazingly, termites can also enter homes by using their jaws to eat through the stucco, the brick veneer or the wood siding along a home’s foundation. As you can guess, removing termites from beneath a home’s concrete slab foundation or from beneath a raised concrete porch is difficult, if not impossible, as there is no easy way to access termites located beneath a solid slab of concrete. Also, cellulose-containing construction debris, such as paper, cardboard, and scrap lumber is usually abundant below concrete slabs, which attracts large quantities of hungry termites to this hard-to-access location. This is why it is important for contractors to install termite barriers around a home during construction, as doing so will prevent termites from reaching a home’s foundation in the first place.
Have you ever had an infestation of termites located below a home’s concrete slab foundation?