Like the alligators that inhabit South Carolina lakes and waterways, termites have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. Every year, they do more damage to homes in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand than either wind or fire or flood. According to the National Pest Management Association, nationally, termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage annually. Termites are masters at finding ways of getting into homes without being seen and then they do their destructive work. A single colony of termites has been known to have as many as one million members. There are professionals who know how to protect your home.
In Myrtle Beach, termites pose a serious threat to most people’s biggest investment – their home. If a homeowner suspects termite activity, The Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executives recommend calling a licensed pest management company to do an inspection. A termite specialist can recommend a customized treatment and a prevention plan that may involve liquid repellants, wood treatments, baits and, if necessary, the fumigation of the entire structure.
In his more than a decade in the pest control business, Lennie Johnson has seen some extensive termite damage to homes and commercial structures in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand. As the owner of Zap Pest Control in Myrtle Beach, Lennie has seen termite infestations in buildings that were long forgotten, but mostly he deals with homes that are lived in on a day to day basis and the ongoing damage is right under everyone’s nose.
“The most important thing to remember when it comes to elimination of termites,” says Lennie, “is that anything can be fixed. It just takes a master tech, and the job can be done efficiently and effectively.”
If purchasing a home in Myrtle Beach, a CL-100 Inspection will be required by your lender in order to close. The CL-100 Inspection is commonly called a Termite Inspection or Termite Letter but its technical name is the Official South Carolina Wood Infestation Report.
The CL-100 inspection checks for:
- Visible evidence of an active or a previously active infestation of subterranean termites or other wood-destroying insects (like powder post beetles or carpenter bees, for example).
- Visible evidence of prior treatment for a subterranean termite infestation.
- The presence or evidence of: active wood-destroying fungi (which has a wood moisture content of 28% or above), or if there is the presence of wood-destroying fungi that is inactive (less than 28% wood moisture content) below the first main. Wood-destroying fungus will not grow below a 28% moisture content.
- Any visibly damaged wooden framing below the main first floor of the home (columns, sills, joists, plates, door jambs, headers, exterior stairs, porches, or other fungi damage below the first floor). The inspector will list in detail the damaged areas.
The CL-100 Inspector will go under and around the house to check for all of these items and circumstances. If he or she finds that the damage noted in #4 above is damage enough to warrant further investigation, they will recommend that a licensed contractor or structural engineer licensed or registered with the SC Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations, will need to provide a letter on letterhead stating that either the home does not need repair, and that the home is “structurally sound”, or that repairs have been made, and it is “structurally sound”. Either of those circumstances will need to occur in order to obtain a “clear CL-100”. In fact, when purchasing, a lender will require a copy of this letter. It will be needed in order to close.
“Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand are in coastal South Carolina – the Low Country – meaning the area is just a foot or two above sea level. It’s pretty common to find homes with either active fungi or inactive fungi. I am not a moisture expert but from what I’ve seen, you should find the source of the moisture problem and not rely on a band-aid approach as a solution. Concentrate on the source of the moisture, and you should be able to ensure that it won’t be a future problem for you and your family!”
Even if a homebuyer is paying all-cash for a home and a CL-100 is not required, the Sales Executives at The Trembley Group Real Estate Real Estate recommend a termite inspection. A home is usually the largest single investment that a family makes and it seems foolish to try and save a comparably insignificant sum when the potential for loss is so great.
The Trembley Group Real Estate is committed to providing an incomparable level of customer service. At every level of the organization, everything the company does has a goal of positively changing clients’ lives by making their home purchase as seamless and enjoyable as possible. To this end, The Trembley Group Real Estate has partnered with real estate professionals in the area with the same commitment to customer service. Lennie Johnson at Zap Pest Control is one of those professionals.
As Lennie says, “In Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand, lots of companies have the same training, have access to the same chemicals, and can use the same techniques as I do. What sets Zap Pest Control apart from those other companies is our level of customer care and customer service. From showing up on time to promptly returning phone calls to answering every question, my customers have confidence in my integrity – that I will use my training to responsibly apply the latest technology to keep their homes safe from termites and other wood-destroying organisms.”
“About two years ago, I got a panicked call from a lady who came home from shopping and found her grand piano sitting in her crawl space,” Lennie says. “Termites had gotten into her floor system. From the floor system, they got into the legs of her piano. The termite damage had gotten so bad that the piano legs gave way, the piano collapsed, and the floor was so weak that the weight of the collapsing piano caused the floor to collapse. There was so much damage, I’m not sure what was holding the place together. But we treated it, stopped the infestation, the owner did some major remodeling, and she’s still living there today – though without a piano. Who knows? Maybe someone will be playing a piano in that living room in another 100 years.”
Even brick homes are in danger of termite infestation. “Very few brick homes in South Carolina are true masonry structures,” says Lennie. “Most are masonry veneer meaning they have masonry skin over a wooden frame. The wooden frame in a brick veneer home is just as vulnerable to termite attack as an all wooden structure. In fact, inspecting for termites in a brick home requires a little extra care.”
Two main species of termites affect U.S. homes: termites that live underground (subterranean termites) and those that live entirely in wood (drywood termites). Subterranean termites build colonies in the soil, whereas drywood termites can be found in the framing, furniture and hardwood flooring of homes.
Both species tend to be most active in humid areas with warmer climates, although subterranean termites can be found in every state in the United States, except Alaska. “Most folks won’t care about differentiating between the two species since termite damage of any kind is a threat to your home. But I need to identify the species to effectively treat the infestation,” says Lennie.
“All the time I get asked, ‘How fast can termites eat my home?’” says Lennie. “There’s no hard and fast answer because it depends on how large the colony is if it’s just one colony attacking the home, and the availability of moisture. Most termite colonies take two to three years to become large enough to swarm which is considered a mature colony of 60,000.”
Conditions Need To Be Right
Moisture is a key element that termites need and if a home provides a steady stream or source the chances of infestation go way up. Access is another necessary condition. For homes with wood to ground contact, cracks in the foundation, or a moist crawl-spaces access is no problem. “I’ve seen perfectly sound looking homes that didn’t seem to provide moisture or access. Yet I found extensive termite damage,” Lennie says. “Termites adjust and will actually bring moisture from underground through their mud tubes. And access may only be an unseen crack or seam in the foundation no thicker than a couple of sheets of paper. It can let the termites go unseen for years.”
The Eastern subterranean termite is a serious economic timber pest causing millions of dollars of damage throughout the areas where it’s located. It is estimated that more than 1 in 5 homes in the high activity areas, have been or will be attacked at some time by these voracious little insects.
Several years are required before the termite colony reaches the typically mature size. In some locations, an Eastern subterranean termite colony can contain several million termites foraging over a wide area (up to 12,000 square feet) and actively feeding on trees and freestanding poles as well as buildings and other timber structures.
The colony nests of Eastern subterranean termites are usually located in the ground below the frost line but above the water table. They build a central colony nest from which they construct underground tunnels that radiate within a 100-yard radius from a central colony nest in search of a timber (cellulose) food source. Mud galleries or “shelter tubes” are constructed across hard objects in order to gain access to timber food sources. The mud tubes protect the termites from dehydration and from sunburn. Moisture is vital for their survival.
Eastern subterranean termites are highly secretive, preferring to enter a building through areas inaccessible to inspection, such as, through in-fill patios, fire hearths, expansion joints, and cracks in an on-ground concrete slab. They can also travel under parquet and floor tiles to get to the wall framing timbers. Lennie says they can even travel under parquetry or laminate flooring through gaps of less than 1/16″ wide.
“Where moisture regularly collects inside the wall or other cavities of a building, say from faulty plumbing or broken roof tiles,” Lennie says, “the Eastern subterranean termite can develop subsidiary colony nests which may not require contact with the ground to ensure its survival.”
Eastern subterranean termites eat through the center of susceptible timbers leaving nothing but a thin veneer of timber and/or paint. They will pack mud in cracks and joints in timber to prevent loss of humidity and resultant dehydration.
Formosan termites are the most aggressive and destructive timber pests in the United States. It is an imported species, native to China. And while it hasn’t yet been found to be a problem in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand yet, the species was first identified in the United States in Charleston in the mid-1950’s and its range has been slowly expanding.
Formosan termites can develop enormous nests containing millions of termites aggressively and relentlessly seeking and devouring structural timbers, utility poles and other timber structures, including ships and barges. Infestation can occur in living trees, such as oak, cypress, pine, and maple. They often cause power failures by chewing through electrical cabling. “They’ve known to cause major structural damage to homes and buildings in just a few months,” says Lennie of Zap Pest Control.
The Formosan termites have been found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Their distribution will probably continue to be restricted to southern areas because their eggs will not hatch below about 20° C (68° F).
“The colony nests of Formosan termites are usually located in the ground below the frost line, but above the water table,” Lennie says. “Like subterranean termites, they typically construct mud galleries or “shelter tubes” across hard objects in order to gain access to timber food sources.”
Formosan termites can establish secondary colonies in very moist wood of upper stories of buildings (even several stories above ground) and do not need soil contact if there is a nearly constant moisture source. Where moisture regularly collects inside the wall or other cavities of a building, say from faulty plumbing or broken roof tiles, the Formosan termite can develop a subsidiary colony nest, which may not require contact with the ground to ensure its survival. This is particularly prevalent in areas of high humidity where wood moisture is above average.
Due to its size and aggressive foraging behavior, a colony of Formosan termites can do more damage than single colonies of other subterranean species. They can cause significant structural damage to a home within 6 months.
Termites are an occurrence in the south like snow is in the north, however, like snow, termites as well can be rectified & removed. Rest assured, anything can be fixed. “The product we use at Zap Pest Control is 99.9% effective and comes with a warranty,” Lennie adds. “We ensure that our clients have peace of mind and treat the home as if it’s our own. There is no need to dissolve the deal just because of termites. Call a professional, and the termite issue will be eliminated.”
For more information: Lennie Johnson, President of Zap Pest, 843.654.1ZAP
Need help? Call The Trembley Group at 843.945.1880 ext. 1 and we’ll help you look for the perfect listing or buyers agent!
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