Oct 02

Pest Inspections & Dead Trees


Pest Inspections & Dead Trees
Written by Bill Barksdale

I wrote an article a few years ago for The Willits News about the importance of periodic pest inspections, but it’s a message that bears repeating.  Often, the largest expense a seller has is to repair damage caused to their house by wood boring beetles, termites and various types of fungi.  These are all common ailments for houses in our area.

One source of wood boring beetles is dead or dying trees.  The tree (like your wooden house) is a delicious source of food.  The beetles migrate from tree to tree to your wood pile to your house, and eat away.  Your house is literally mother’s milk for baby beetles.  These are little tiny beetles that you almost never see.  You just see the tiny holes, often called “exit holes” that are about the size of a small nail hole.  Inside the piece of wood, however, the wood is eaten away destroying its strength and structural integrity.  If you have dead or dying trees near your home, have them removed as soon as possible, and never stack wood next to your house.

Other common “wood eaters” in our area are termites, carpenter bees (black pear-shaped bees) and fungi.  A good pest inspection every 3 to 5 years will help you keep up with any developments so you can get rid of infected and damaged areas before the damage spreads and becomes really expensive to fix.  Ten and twenty thousand dollar pest repair bills are common in this area because home owners don’t have regular inspections and make repairs when damage is small.

Some companies specialize in selling “service contracts” where they come around once a month or so and spray chemicals to kill ants, spiders and other critters.  These are not normally the things that are eating your house.  I’ve had many clients be shocked to find their house has a huge pest repair bill when they sell, after having paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars to one of these service contract companies.   If you have a service contract with a pest company, ask them if they are inspecting and treating your house for wood-destroying pests like fungus, wood boring beetles, termites, carpenter bees and the like.  If they’re not, you may not be getting what you think you are paying for.

Other things you can do - keep your rain gutters clean, keep caulked & grouted areas sealed, clean debris out of cracks between deck boards then power wash and spray or paint on a high-grade wood preservative, bleach the underside of decks, keep shrubs and plants at least 12 inches from your house and don’t let earth contact build up with wood siding, decks and attached fence posts, and take care of roof leaks right away.

Be a smart consumer.  Know what you are paying for and what really causes expensive damage.  Use the services of a licensed professional pest inspector and make sure they’re giving you a thorough inspection from crawl space to attic detailing any damage from “wood destroying” pests.  The inspection report should cost no more than $200 - $300 for a typical single family house in our area.  A healthy house is a great investment!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Bill Barksdale: I have been selling real estate in the Willits/Mendocino Co. market for over 18 years. I can be reached at Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty Inc. PH: 707.459.8888 or Email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I hope you will find my site (Bill Barksdale's Real Estate Site) of use to your home buying or selling a home now or in the future.

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