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Deck Wood Damage – Termites or Rot?

By Chris Williams on July 20, 2016.

I think we might have termites. I was under our deck yesterday and found that one of the supports was heavily damaged. The wood looked kind of crumbly and dark-colored. The deck is right next to the house. Does that mean we could have termites in the house, too?  V. J., Merrimack, NH

Your deck might have termites or it might have wood rot, or even both. Termite damage and decay can look similar to an untrained eye but an expert can tell the difference by probing the wood. I strongly recommend that you have a professional exterminator check it out. If it’s termites, the inspection should then extend to other areas of the deck, and perhaps to the house as well.

Having termites infesting your deck supports does not mean that they are also infesting your house, but having a termite inspection by a pest control professional would be smart. If your deck is attached directly to your house, there is a greater risk of the termites moving inside since they could bypass any termite pesticides in the soil around your foundation.

Wood Protection is No Guarantee

Presumably your deck was built with pressure-treated lumber. However, the protection against wood rot and wood-infesting insects does not last forever (see Will Termites Infest Pressure-Treated Wood?). Wood rot is serious enough by itself, but it also invites termite infestation. Termites prefer wood that has been softened by moisture and rot and infestations often start in these sites (see The Wood Rot – Termite Connection).

Give Colonial Pest a call and have our specially trained termite technicians inspect your deck and your home for evidence of termites. You may also want to contact a building engineer or deck contractor who could evaluate the safety and stability of your current deck supports. Infested wood will no doubt have to be replaced or treated for termites.

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