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IS DAMAGE UNDER THE SINK FROM TERMITES?

By Zachary Ciras on February 21, 2020.

I’m trying to figure out if we have termites. We know that we have a slow leak under our kitchen sink. My wife had me pull up the base board in the cabinet under the sink. The wood was really spongy and practically fell apart in my hands. I didn’t see any live termites but there was some debris and a little bit of sawdust-looking material in the void underneath the board. Could this be termites?

J. V., Medford, MA

While I can’t give you a firm answer without inspecting the site, I would say that what you describe, at least in this location, doesn’t sound like termites. Wet, spongy wood could be the result of wood rot. The “sawdust” and other debris under the cabinet flooring could be construction debris, debris dumped there by nesting ants, or (less likely) frass from the galleries of wood-boring beetles.

SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION

Termite damage was revealed after lifting a card box box.

Termites don’t create sawdust since they actually eat and digest the wood. They tend to leave mud tunnels and mud mixed into the wood and damaged wood might have a layered effect. Carpenter ants, and some other ants will shred and dump out bits of wood as they chew out a nest gallery.

These Colonial blogs discuss some signs of a termite infestation:

The wood damage under the sink is probably from excess water but a professional inspection could determine that and whether the sawdust is anything to be concerned about. If you still can, save some of the sawdust material for a technician to check.

BUT THERE IS A TERMITE AND DAMP WOOD CONNECTION

You were right to ask about termites in this circumstance. Many wood-infesting insects are attracted to damp or water-damaged wood and subterranean termites are no exception:

Termite soldiers and a swarmer peaking out from a space in the wall after the door trim was removed, revealing termite damage. Note the mud speckles.

Just because there may not be termites in this particular site, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be infesting just a foot away on the back wall of the cabinets. A professional inspection will determine whether you have any insect pest problems here, or elsewhere in your home. Our inspector can also point out other moisture problems around your home that could be conducive to pest invasion. If you leave that damp wood in place or don’t repair the leak, you could have wood-infesting insects eventually.

Give Colonial Pest a call today for a comprehensive inspection!

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