How to keep your home protected from subterranean termites

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Let’s start off by saying the best form of protection for any home is to have a qualified and experienced professional carry out an annual timber pest inspections every twelve months, or more frequently in some cases. Some high risk properties may require inspections at three or six monthly intervals.

First, let’s focus on protection in the construction stage, known as ‘preconstruction’ termite management systems. It’s called ‘systems’ because like most things there are several methods and brands on the market.

A Brief History

In the past this service was carried out by applying an organochlorine chemical application to the soil before the concrete slab was poured (dieldrin or aldrin were commonly used). These chemicals would claim as offering decades of protection and stop termites from passing through the treated soil. So it goes without saying that these chemicals were pretty bad for the environment and human health.

The use of these chemicals was eventually phased out and replaced by far less harmful chemicals with a far less active lifespan in the soil. In fact in Australia today the use of a ‘pre-pour soil spray’ has been restricted to exceptional cases only.

However, the industry has evolved to suit and introduced physical termite management systems to the market. These systems come in several forms too. Simple explanations of the most common methods will follow.

Physical Termite Management Systems

Collars
Regardless of the method below the pipe penetrations, your slab must be protected to limit the chance of termites using this channel for entry. A wrap or collar is placed around each pipe before the concrete is poured locking it in place. This wrap is usually made from a plastic impregnated with a chemical that a termite will not cross. This chemical would usually be a bifenthrin product, which can last up to 50 years.

Concrete Slab Protection
Keeping in mind that the concrete slab itself, if poured correctly will form the barrier to keep termites out of your home, a termite will be forced to go around it to get to the tasty stuff it’s looking for. This includes your timber frames, doors, cupboards and even plasterboard.

In this case, the most common method of choice is a strip of the same plastic used on the collars that creates a barrier on the edge of the slab and connects the brickwork to the frame. These products are designed to force a termite out into the open, as they must go around them and into the view of a qualified inspector carrying out their regular check.

Reticulation
Similar to a garden reticulation system, a termite reticulation (‘retic’ for short) system is installed around and sometimes under the slab in the construction stage. This allows for regular recharging of the system to allow reapplication of the chemical to the soil. These systems are much more popular up north – north of the tropic of Capricorn – as termite activity is much more prevalent up there. They also have the dreaded ‘mastotermes darwiniensis’ species of termite considered to be the most primitive and very destructive.

Granules

This form of protection essentially is a bead type product that when placed within the void of the slab and the outer brick of your home acts as a barrier to termite access. The granules kill termites on contact and are designed to keep working for the life of the building. They are ideal for corrective situations to fix those unexpected issues that arise in real life situations when installing a physical termite barrier – from filling cavity voids, moving service penetrations, to a full perimeter cavity fill. Granules can be used in combination with other termite management systems too.

Termite Inspections

While there are many other forms of build types and methods of termite management systems, it is strongly recommended to schedule regular termite inspections, understand what protection you have in place, and what your inspector recommends.

Each product manufacturer may offer a warranty on their product. It is common for the terms of the warranty to include regular inspections as a subject of renewing the warranty with the manufacturer.

Work with the Experts

It definitely pays off to work with an expert in the industry and let them act on your behalf with the manufacturer.  If you are a builder, home renovator, or working with a builder on your dream home, you can always rely on Rentokil to offer advice on what is the best fit for your project.

Wherever you are in Australia you will never be too far from one of our experts. Our technicians are also locals and backed up by our international expertise.

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Kathryn Birett

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