Termites and foam insulation a losing combo

Termites and foam insulation don’t mix, period! The question is why?

I’ve been around the pest control block a few times and most moderately experienced builders will tell you that foam board insulation is a problem.  The reason is that termites can eat foam when buried in the soil against the foundation.  This was/is an enormous problem for those homes built the 80’s.  With the oil embargo of the 70’s fresh on everyone’s mind builders wanted to build energy efficient homes.  Foam board on the outside kept the radiant heat from the basement inside.  Soon afterward everyone discovered it also gave termites a food source because foam was made of cellulose and well that’s what termites eat. Termites 1 people 0

Termites and foam
Foam insulation hiding termite damage

Now, the new rage is SPF or spray polyurethane foam, it’s a material that’s made by combining liquids called polyol/resin and isocyanate.  Neither of which are known to be a food source for termites.  Foam insulation can be either closed or open celled and can be sprayed in attics, wall cavities and basements over the sill and joist area.  You can expect a warm house, lower energy bills and sound reduction. Sounds great right? Wrong!!! Termites and foam still don’t mix.

The reason is that no one will ever be able to do a proper termite inspection again. The foam covered wood framing in the basement will be inaccessible for inspection.  Never again will a unobstructed termite inspection take place.  This is a fact and not open for discussion no matter who you talk to.  The accompanying picture shows.  So what can you do?  Termites 2 people 0

Prevention is the key

Most all pest problems are caused by another issue.  That issue could be water, sanitation or in this case lack of access.  In order to stop termites before they start the home should be treated preventatively.  This can be done with either a soil treatment or a wood treatment with a liquid borate.  Of the two treatment the liquid borate is less expensive and likely will give you the most longevity, this is especially true if your home is brand new.

It’s an added expense

Your home is your largest investment and since your investing in it already with foam insulation you should go the extra step and protect it even further with a preventative termite service.  The home pictured above had multiple areas of damage that were only found because the foam was removed for structural repairs.  How long it was like that is anyone’s guess.

Last, but a must

If you do decide to have a preventative service you must tell the pest control company prior to having the treatment that you’re plan is to install foam.  Some companies will void warranties without this advance notice.

If you have termites, need a termite inspection or quote call Envirocare Pest Control at 1-888-879-6481.  We can help.

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