What is the Difference Between Rotten Wood and Termite Damage?

Termite damage and dry rot can appear very similar to the untrained eye. For example, chipped or peeling paint that may appear to the be the result of water or weather damage may be hiding extensive termite damage underneath, and the crumbling post on your front porch that looks as if it is being eaten away may actually be dry rot.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot occurs when fungi attack seasoned lumber and eat away at the cellulose that gives the wood its strength. The result is a piece of wood that feels soft and spongy and easily crumbles into a powder. Since the fungi that cause dry rot are activated by moisture, the condition is almost always seen outdoors. The damage starts at the surface and gradually makes its way all the way through the wood. The damaged wood may be gray, brown, or black in color and can appear puffy, flaky, or dry. There will also be evidence of small spores within the wood.

What Is Termite Damage?

Termite damage occurs as the termites devour the wood that serves as their food source. Since termites do most of their work hidden from view, they can cause extensive damage before you are aware of their presence. Early signs of a termite infestation include small piles of termite droppings called frass near the nest site or mud tunnels or tubes along exterior walls.

Different types of termites leave distinct damage patterns in the wood. Subterranean termites typically eat along the grain of the wood, which creates a honeycomb type pattern. Subterranean termites are voracious eaters and live in large colonies, so an infestation needs to be addressed quickly to prevent extensive property damage. While drywood termites can cause considerable damage, they are slightly less serious than their subterranean counterparts. A colony of drywood termites can eat up to a half a pound of wood a year by chewing both along and against the grain.

If you see any type of damaged wood around your home, you should call for a professional inspection. At Geiger's Pest Services, our licensed experts can determine if the damage is caused by dry rot, termites, or another type of pest and recommend the appropriate corrective measures. For more information, contact us today.

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