Can You Live in a House with Termites?

You know that termites can seriously damage your property, but a question still remains — can you actually live in a house with termites? The short answer is yes, you can live in a house with termites, but there are risks…

The dangers of living in a house with termites

1. Termites bite

When it comes to termite infestations, the structural integrity of your house should be your primary concern. Sure, the termites themselves can be dangerous because they do bite humans. But this happens very rarely.

Termites would rather spend their time inside their colonies and mind their own business than bite you. The only ones that are likely to bite you are soldiers just trying to defend their colony. And even if you are bitten by these termites, it’s not likely to be a serious health risk.

Termites are not known to spread diseases. But their bites can still burn and leave you with red bumps.

2. Termites trigger allergies

Termite bites can result in allergies and irritation. After all, termites inject some of their salivae when they bite you. The problem here is that termite saliva has strong properties that help termites easily feed on wood. Your body may react negatively to these substances and result in allergies, irritation, and itching — all of which can lead to infections if you are careless.

Where termites thrive, mildews, mold, and spores are also likely to follow. These are allergens, meaning that they can cause allergic reactions. This can be particularly dangerous to those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

3. Termites spread mold and other allergens

Termites thrive in moist environments. This is the reason why you usually find them in the parts of your house where water can seep in, such as basements, crawl spaces, and foundations. Unfortunately, mold and other allergens thrive in the same environments. You can even argue that termite infestations and mold go hand-in-hand. It’s natural for them to find each other in a similar vicinity because of how they are attracted to the same conditions.

It doesn’t help that they seem to have a symbiotic relationship. Mold makes wood easier to consume for termites. Mold also makes wood tastier, thanks to the mycotoxins they produce. On the other hand, termites eat through the wood and give more space for mold to spread easier and thrive.

But here’s the good news — if you prevent moisture build-up in and around your house, you are not just avoiding termites. You are also avoiding mold that can trigger allergies and bring skin diseases and fungal infections.

4. Termites cause structures to collapse

Yes, you can live in a house with termites. But remember that there will always be a risk of structural collapse, no matter how small. Again, this is primarily because termites thrive on foundations and other parts of your house that can ruin the entire structural integrity of your property.

It will take a very long time for termites to bring an entire structure down. And they will not do it like a thief in the night. You will most likely see signs of a severe termite infestation before they even make your house collapse. At that point, you should call pest control professionals to get rid of the termites. Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of money to restore your house too.

You are not alone in this. In fact, in the U.S. alone, people cumulatively spend billions of dollars a year just to fix structural issues caused by termite infestations.

5. Termites damage electrical wirings

There are different types of termites that can infest your home. Each of them has its own set of dangers. For instance, dampwood termites have very strong jaws. In fact, their jaws are strong enough to be able to cut through wires. This is a problem because compromised wires can result in blackouts, electrical accidents, and fires.

If you notice that your wires seem to be chewed out, consult electricians and pest control professionals immediately.

You can live in a house with termites, but the dangers should not be overlooked.
Dampwood termites. Image source: Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, University of Florida

What can you do if you live in a house with termites?

1. Inform the property owner

If you think you are living with termites and you are just renting the house, inform your landlord immediately. They deserve to know the condition of their property. They may even be required to get rid of the termite infestation themselves. You may also be able to renegotiate payments while the infestation is still active. You can break your contract or withhold rent, for the time being, depending on what you and your landlord can agree on.

2. Call pest control professionals

There are a lot of ways to get rid of termite infestations. If the infestation is severe, the house may need to undergo termite fumigation. In this method, your house will be covered with a tent and bombed with a fumigant gas that kills termites even on the tiniest of cracks. If the infestation is concentrated in a particular area of the house, less invasive methods like spot treatment may suffice. At the end of the day, your pest control professionals will be the ones who will diagnose your termite problem and come up with the appropriate method for your particular case.

3. Avoid DIY solutions as much as possible

Termites are resilient pests. Their colonies are deep and intricate. If you try to get rid of them yourself, your mixtures may not even reach them. With that said, many people do use their own mixtures to try to get rid of termites. People mix liquid dish soap, salt, or vinegar with water and then pour or inject the mixture into the termite colonies. You may get some results in small infestations. But for severe infestations, it’s still better to leave them at the hands of professionals who have access to termiticides, which are much more potent than DIY mixtures.

Termite fumigation is one of the most effective ways to get rid of termites.
Private property undergoing fumigation. Image source: Matthew Field Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

You can live in a house with termites but there are risks

You can live in a house with termites relatively safely. But remember that there are a lot of dangers associated with termites, including termite allergies and bites and structural damage and collapse. If you think the house you live in is suffering from a termite infestation, inform the property owner immediately and call pest control professionals. DIY methods may work, but they may be ineffective, especially on severe infestations.

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