Termite infestation in a home can be a nuisance and cause significant losses. They can eat through a house enough to jeopardize its structural integrity, but thankfully, they can’t eat through every kind of building material. Some materials are tough enough to stop termites.
Termites cannot eat through the grout. They can, however, pass through any cracks in it. Cracks usually form if the grout is not appropriately applied or has weakened over time. The burrowing of termites through grout usually gives the false impression that they have eaten through it.
In the rest of this article, I will explore the diet of termites and why they cannot eat through the grout. I will explore their common entry points to a house and how to spot an infestation. I will also give detailed tips on preventing and getting rid of a termite infestation.
Why Termites Cannot Eat Through the Grout
Termites cannot eat through grout because it is too tough for them to chew through, and it does not meet their nutritional requirements. However, they can pass through grout layers if it’s already been broken or weakened.
What Do Termites Eat?
Cellulose is the main component in the food that termites eat. They contain certain bacteria and protozoa in their gut that produce enzymes that break down cellulose into simple sugars. To get cellulose, they eat mainly humus, manure from herbivorous animals, wood, leaves, and grass.
Termites may also eat man-made materials that have plant origins, like certain fabrics or plastics.
How Termites Get Through Grout
While termites have an extensive range of food choices, they cannot eat grout because their digestive systems do not have any mechanisms to break it down. Their preferred food choices contain cellulose, while grout has no cellulose.
Although they cannot eat through the grout, they can tunnel their way through any present cracks in the grout.
It is not uncommon for grout to undergo natural degradation a long time after its application. Some people could also misapply the grout, making it easily degradable.
Dampness is also another factor that significantly contributes to making the grout weaker. Degraded grout develops cracks that allow the termites to pass through.
How Do Termites Infest a House?
It is crucial to know how termites can enter and infest a house to prevent and get rid of them. They have many different entry points ranging from wood-ground contact to cracks in the house’s structural components depending on the type of termites.
Termites commonly use the wooden areas of your house that touch the ground as their entry points by eating through them. Such structures include door frames, wood siding, window frames, and porch steps.
They can also tunnel through small crevices in the grout, cement, and brick mortar and gather in your home.
The cracked grout problem is usually prevalent for houses where the grout was applied poorly. In such situations, the grout can weaken over time and develop cracks that allow termites to tunnel through.
To prevent the termites from potentially passing through the cracks in the grout, ensure you always get an expert to apply the grout for you. To solve it, wash the area infested with termites with soap and water to remove most of the termites and then use a new layer of grout.
How To Prevent and Get Rid of Termites
Prevention is the best way to keep termites at bay, but thankfully, there are also steps you can take to get rid of termites and repair damages after they’ve left.
Hire Professional Termite Prevention and Control
Preventive treatment is the best way to prevent a termite invasion. You call pest control professionals to spray areas in your house prone to infestation with a termiticide.
It can also be challenging to spot termites, unlike other pests such as cockroaches. Therefore, you should have experts come into your house annually to check for any signs of termites such as sawdust and a hollow foundation.
Additionally, because termites can form colonies randomly, you should have professional pest controllers re-spray your house with insecticides now and then. You can work with the experts to develop a re-treatment schedule.
The schedule will probably depend on your unique situation, such as the colony’s size and its proximity to your house.
Reduce Wood-To-Ground Contact
Since the main entry point of termites is the contact areas between your wood and the ground, reducing the wood-to-ground contact will go a long way in preventing a termite infestation.
You can reduce wood-to-ground contact by ensuring that your door frames and window frames are high above the ground (at least 6 inches). You could also use concrete to support any wooden posts and steps because termites cannot eat through the concrete to get to the wood.
Decrease the Moisture Around Your Foundation
Since termites are attracted to dampness, keeping the area around your foundation as dry as you possibly could is a great way to keep them off.
You can do this by leveling the ground around the foundation so that any water around it flows away. You could also use well-fitted gutters to drain excess rainwater away.
Recognize Signs of a Termite Infestation
Signs of a termite infestation include:
- mud tunnels
- a hollow foundation
- swollen wall paint.
Termites need mud tunnels to ensure moisture on their path while they invade your house. Also, when they eat the wood, some of the wood particles fall off their mouths, creating sawdust.
Finally, when termites eat wood from your foundation and walls, they form holes. The paint swells up when the holes on the house’s wall get filled with air.
Use DIY Pest Control Methods
You can use several methods to get rid of termites ranging from DIY to calling pest control professionals. However, I highly recommend calling in professionals because you can get a warranty from them and call them later on if an infestation occurs again as long as the contract is valid.
Homemade DIY methods include:
- adding nematodes to the soil that is infested
- using moistened cardboard traps to attract termites
- pouring essential oils around the infestation
- using borax
- using white vinegar
- spattering diatomaceous earth over the termite colonies.
When you call pest control professionals, they will spray insecticides on the termite colonies to kill them. Calling experts to deal with the issue is the best treatment option because sometimes termites exist in the deeper sections of the soil, making it hard for you to reach them.
Termites cannot eat their way through the grout, but they can tunnel through any present cracks in the grout.
The main entry points for termites are ground-to-wood contact areas and existing cracks in concrete, grout, and even brick mortar. Degradation is usually the leading cause of the cracks in these structures.
The tell-tale signs of a termite infestation include hollow foundations and wall paints, sawdust, and mud tunnels. I highly recommend seeking the services of a professional pest controller to treat a termite infestation since some termite colonies exist deep in the earth where only an expert can reach.
- University of Kentucky: Protecting your Home Against Termites
- PBS.org: Watch and learn how termites turn your house into a poop palace
- Rocklinpestcontrol.com: Telltale Signs That Termites Have Invaded Your House
- Pests.org: How to Get Rid of Termites
- Epa.gov: Termites: How to Identify and Control Them