Termite damage in a main beam?

Termites.  Termite damage, termite evidence.  It’s all the same and if it’s in the main beam of your home it’s a serious issue.

I’m guessing this statement doesn’t come as a big shock, but remember not all termite damage is created equal.  In fact, not all damage to a main beam is even termite damage.

If you have visible damage to the main beam of your home the first thing that needs to be done is to find out exactly what type of damage it is. There are many things that it could be besides termite damage.  A list of the most common follows.

Let’s briefly look at each.

The first is water damage and it can look like termite damage to the main beam of your home.  However, look around your basement or crawl space.  Do you have a dirt floor, standing water or maybe an old field stone foundation?  The amount of water vapor that can seep through because of these conditions is measured in gallons over the years.  Water vapor soaked wood can become structurally compromised.  Fix the source of the moisture AND the beam if the damage warrants.

Second, carpenter ant damage.  The main difference in termite damage to the main beam of your home and carpenter ant damage is mud vs saw dust or “frass”. Termites in CT don’t create sawdust or frass; only carpenter ants do.  Exterminate the ants and repair the beam if the damage warrants.

Next would be powder post beetle damage.  This one is actually easy.  If the damage in your beam has small round or oval holes in it with a powder that has the consistency of talc powder falling out then you have powder post beetle not termites.  This insect is in almost every vintage home I’ve ever inspected to one degree or another.

Last on the list would be construction debris.  Yes, that’s right construction debris.  Honestly, many people just don’t pay attention and one day they look up or down and see saw dust and naturally figure there must be termite damage to the main beam in their home.  It happens all the time.  You may think it sounds silly, but if you’re not in “the trades” it can look like a problem.

If you actually do have termite damage in the main beam of your home make sure that you call a qualified pest control expert to diagnose the issue.  This type of damage can cost thousands to repair or just a few hundred.