How Much Does Termite Damage Repair Cost?
Termites can have a major effect on a home’s structural integrity, so repairing their damage is extremely important. Termite damage repair cost ranges from $600 to $3,000, with a national average cost of $1,800.
- Termite damage repair typically costs between $600 and $3,000, with homeowners paying an average of $1,800 nationally.
- The main factors affecting the total cost include the type of termites, the size of the colony, the extent and type of damage, and the treatment method chosen.
- Common signs of termite damage include damaged wood, blisters in the flooring, paint damage, stuck windows and doors, and the presence of termite droppings or wings.
- Since termites can cause structural damage to a home, it’s generally recommended that homeowners hire a professional to exterminate termites and fix the damage they have caused.
Home improvement television shows, commercials and advertisements for termite exterminators, and jokes on sitcoms play up the horror of termites so much that one could start to think it’s all an overblown sales pitch. Unfortunately, it’s not—termites really are that bad.
First of all, termites will trash every home they get into, and once they’re in, they’re very, very difficult to evict. They cause all kinds of cosmetic damage to floors, walls, and wood, and they can even burrow into chairs and tables if given the opportunity. Worse, they can cause severe structural damage to the home, such as carving through drywall, siding, and beams—sometimes to the point that replacement is required. In a worst-case scenario, termites can damage a home so badly that the only safe course of action is to tear it down and rebuild. In addition, termite history is a required disclosure during a home sale and can reduce the overall value of the property; some buyers will simply refuse to buy a home that has had termites in the past, even if the issue has been addressed and the damage repaired.
Demolition isn’t usually necessary. But how much does it cost to repair termite damage? According to Angi, the average cost to repair termite damage is $1,800, with a typical cost range of $600 to $3,000—a pretty wide range, because there are many factors that play into how much any individual job will cost. It’s possible for a homeowner to get a rough idea of how much repairs will run by using a termite damage repair cost calculator online, but these can’t always zero in on individual circumstances. The best plan is for a homeowner to learn about these factors before hiring a professional. This will make it easier to evaluate the written report and recommendations the homeowners will want to ask for before signing a contract, and it will also help get the best value.
Factors in Calculating Termite Damage Repair Cost
There are certain factors that will be evaluated in every case of termite infestation. These factors will be examined by a termite inspector as the first step in determining whether or not there is a termite problem and what the suggested treatment will be. This job will need to be performed by a licensed termite inspector, and homeowners will want to make sure they request a written report and recommended course of action. This document will help the homeowner compare estimates from the best termite control companies like Terminix to find the one they want to work with, and it will also be important after the work has been done: Attached to the report and receipt for the completed project, it will serve as proof that the problem was handled responsibly and professionally.
Some companies provide free inspections and reports, while others charge a small termite inspection fee that is wrapped into their total service charge if they’re hired to do the work. Inspections will be done in person and will involve a pretty thorough search around the home, probing into wood in all the dark corners. A reputable extermination company won’t give an estimate over the phone without an inspection—if a company offers to do so, homeowners are advised to look elsewhere. An ideal estimate will include a careful inspection of the termite colony and damage as well as a treatment recommendation based on that information.
Colony Size and Type
A key aspect of performing an inspection is determining the type of termites, as there are several different species. All can damage a home, but some species, such as the Formosan termite and other subterranean termites that live in the soil, can cause catastrophic damage to a house in as little as 2 years. Very destructive types will need to be treated more aggressively, which will cost more. Drywood and dampwood termites also cause plenty of damage, but they do so less swiftly than the subterranean version.
The inspection will also assess the size of the termite colony. A small colony that is mostly contained to one area of the home is good news, because the damage won’t be as widespread and the treatment can be localized. Large colonies can spread through the walls quickly and cause damage throughout the structure, so the bigger the colony, the greater the likelihood that significant areas of the house will be affected.
Extent of the Damage
The next consideration is how widespread the termite damage is. When the damage is contained to a smaller area, requiring the replacement of a few boards or support pieces, the repair is likely to cost between $250 and $1,000. Medium levels of damage, requiring repair and replacement of parts of walls, flooring, or basic nonstructural pieces of framing, will cost between $1,000 and $3,000 for materials and labor. The cost to repair extensive termite damage, requiring the replacement of load-bearing beams, load-bearing walls, and other structural components of the house, can cost between $3,000 and $6,000 or more.
Type of Damage
The inspector will assess whether the damage is cosmetic or structural. If it’s cosmetic, meaning that the damage has marred the look of some surfaces, the homeowner is in luck: Repairing cosmetic damage can cost from a few dollars per square foot to as much as $25 per square foot but is usually in a small, contained area. Sometimes cosmetic damage can even wait to be repaired.
Structural damage is the single most expensive component of treating termite damage. If the damage to supporting beams and siding is significant enough to warrant replacement, costs can soar into the thousands of dollars.
Termite Treatment Type
Depending on the size, type, and extent of the infestation, there are several different treatment approaches that an inspector may recommend. Chemical treatments, which are added to the soil near the termites, average between $3 and $16 per linear foot, while bait systems cost between $8 and $12 per linear foot, as they require more visits to check the stations and refill or move them to other locations. These treatments are generally used for more localized colonies. Larger colonies require a more widespread approach, and with that larger scope come larger costs. Tenting a home starts at about $1,200 and can exceed $2,500 depending on the size and complexity of the home’s shape. Heat treatments, which kill termites and their eggs, are around $10 per linear foot. Fumigation, which fills the home with a chemical that will kill termites deep within wood, costs between $10 and $20 per linear foot. There are pros and cons to each type of treatment, based on the individual situation, so asking the inspector to explain why a particular treatment is recommended is highly advised.
Number of Treatments
Some treatments, such as tenting and fumigation, occur once (though they may take several days). Others, such as bait stations and chemical treatments, require return visits to replace or replenish the chemicals until all activity has ceased. The exterminator may choose to install termite monitoring stations, where they can check for activity each month and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. The number of treatments, along with any follow-up visits to inspect and make sure that no stragglers were left behind, will also affect the total cost.
Additional Costs and Considerations
While the standard elements identified during an inspection are common to all infestations, other components of termite treatment and damage repair aren’t necessary in every occurrence. When they are necessary, however, these considerations can have a significant impact on the cost to repair termite damage.
If there’s even a hint that termites may have done structural damage to the home—anything beyond some light cosmetic drilling on the edge of a wall or a piece of siding—it’s critical for a homeowner to call in a structural engineer. Their expertise is evaluating the soundness and sturdiness of weight-bearing components such as beams, joists, rafters, and studs, along with products such as flooring, walls, roofing, and foundation. The structural engineer will assess the damage and make recommendations about what kind of repair needs to be done to make the home sound and safe. Hiring an engineer will cost an average of $517, but it’s well worth it to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the house won’t collapse suddenly as beams fail.
Vent and Duct Cleaning
Termites love moisture, and vents and ducts full of lint and dust harbor it, preventing the ductwork from moving dry air through the house. Cleaning the ducts makes the HVAC system more efficient, resulting in more consistent dry air through the house and a home that is less hospitable to termites. The cost to clean ductwork and vents averages between $270 and $500.
No repair can begin before every last termite is gone. The average cost of termite treatment and extermination is between $230 and $930, but extensive infestations can stretch well beyond that range.
Monitoring for Termite Reinfestation
Once a home has been infested with termites, it will need to be watched closely to catch any reinfestation immediately. The initial infestation indicates that the home is vulnerable, making it essential for homeowners to invest in protecting the home going forward. Annual monitoring services cost about $400.
Types of Termite Damage Repair
Every homeowner who has experienced a termite inspection has crossed their fingers hoping that the report will describe only cosmetic damage. While repairing cosmetic damage can still be expensive, it’s nowhere near as costly as repairing structural damage.
Termites can cause discoloration as they burrow, along with small pinholes and grooves. Floor and wall discoloration can require deep cleaning or spot replacement, costing between $1 and $3 per square foot for flooring and between $2 and $6 per square foot for walls. If the flooring has curled or buckled as a result of the damage, replacement can cost between $5 and $25. Burrowing termites can also cause paint to chip or flake off as the structure of the drywall behind it is stretched. Sanding and repainting average between $4 and $8 per square foot.
When termites have chewed their way through structural beams, walls, and siding, the cost to repair the damage is significant. There’s no real option to avoid the cost to repair structural termite damage, as the home will need to be repaired before it’s safe to stay there. Sometimes the structural elements can be shored up or strengthened by sistering beams (meaning a new beam is bolted to the old one to add strength and support) or using wood hardener. Other times, the load-bearing elements need to be replaced completely. Drywall repair can usually be achieved by cutting out the damaged areas and patching them, which will cost between $50 and $75 per hole. Wood siding repair usually involves removing the damaged pieces and their underlayment and replacing them at a cost of $50 to $75 per square foot.
Support beams that have been mildly damaged can be sistered. Those that have been damaged beyond structural soundness need to be replaced at a cost of $1,500 to $3,000 each. And if other structural elements such as the sill plate or rim joist are damaged, costs can go even higher. As with support beams, to repair sill plate termite damage costs more than to replace just the studs because of the additional equipment and personnel that are required: The hydraulic jack needed to literally lift the home off of its foundation to complete the repair and the workers needed to accomplish this task are a large component of the overall cost.
Do I Need Termite Damage Repair?
How does a homeowner know whether they have termites and need extensive repairs? There are several telltale signs that termites have moved in and spread enough to cause real trouble, but some of the signs of termites are more subtle.
Snaking along a wall or foundation, termite mud tubes look similar to brown vines or veins reaching up toward the wood components above. Sometimes they look like worms just below the surface. These tubes, made of mud, are like termite superhighways: The termites are invested enough in the territory that they’ve constructed shelter for their regular travel. These also indicate that the termites are in the ground nearby, which increases the likelihood that they’re more aggressive subterranean termites.
Seeing a cloud of termites that moves as one large unit is horrifying outdoors but much worse in the garage or inside the home. What do termites look like? They have straight antennae and equally sized wings, along with a straight waist. There are certain bugs that look like termites; for example, flying ants are similarly shaped but have bent antennae and pinched waists, and their wings are different sizes. While flying ants are annoying, they don’t pose the danger that termites do. Spotting a swarm of termites means it’s time to call a termite company.
Discarded Termite Wings
Termites lose their wings when they mate. Finding piles of discarded wings with no bodies, especially on windowsills or near doors, indicates not only that there is a termite problem in the home but also that it’s about to get bigger.
Termite droppings look like sawdust or wood shavings, which makes sense, as their diet is primarily wood. If there are many droppings in one area, there’s likely an active colony in the home. Unlike the droppings of many other animals, termite droppings don’t alter with time, so if there’s been a problem in the house before, it will be difficult to tell if the droppings are old or fresh.
Paint or Wallpaper Damage
As termites chew through wood, they displace the material that they chew and leave droppings behind them. This changes the structure of the wall and also displaces its coverings. Bubbles in wallpaper or paint when there’s been no moisture problem, small holes, or flaking or chipping can be an indication that there’s a problem behind the wallpaper or paint.
Stuck Windows or Doors
Similar to the damage caused to paint and wallpaper, the termite tunnels that spiderweb through wood can cause it to swell. Windows and doors can warp as a result, impinging on their ability to close and open smoothly. This can also happen as a result of water damage, but termites are particularly damaging to windows or doors that remain closed for long periods of time, as the stationary position doesn’t disrupt the work of the termites and allows them to hollow out even more of the window or sill.
Tiny holes drilled into visible wood, small piles of wood dust, peeling, splitting, and cracking are all indications that the wood is being destroyed from within. As with windows, similar damage can be caused by moisture and rot, but generally the source of water damage is evident. Look especially at wood in the framing of the garage, which is often one of the most accessible locations for termites, to check for tunnels and pinholes.
Blisters in Flooring
Tunnels in subfloor and flooring, whether engineered wood, vinyl, tile, or rugs, will respond to termite tunneling just as wallpaper will—they’ll pop up just a little at first, looking like a blister as the tunnel bumps along beneath the surface. Laminate products may split and then bubble as the layers of wood and laminate separate. If there’s no clear water source or other recent trauma to the area, call in a termite inspector.
Termite Damage Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Removing termites from the home isn’t a simple job. When a trail of ants is spotted, usually a quick spray or some bait stations will take care of the problem in a few days’ time. Termites aren’t like that; they burrow deep into wood where they can’t be easily seen, and they arrive en masse and reproduce quickly. The damage is very rarely minor, because often it’s well beyond where it’s visible, and if the home’s structural beams and studs are damaged, the whole home could actually collapse. Homeowners will want to choose a professional termite company to inspect the infestation and the damage and hire a professional to do the extermination. Professional pest control companies know exactly how to get rid of termites from a home and can take steps to ensure that a future infestation is less likely to happen.
If the damage is relatively minor—mostly cosmetic, or requiring the removal of a few sections of wall or flooring—and the homeowner is comfortable and experienced with home renovation, the repairs can potentially be a DIY job. If, however, the damage has extended into weight-bearing walls, rafters, roofing, or framing, it’s important both for resident’s personal safety and preservation of the home’s resale value that the homeowner hire a specialist to complete the repairs.
How to Save Money on Termite Damage Repair Cost
Termite remediation and repair are expensive, and with good reason: If they’re not done well, there’s a much greater chance that the termites will return or that the damage they’ve done will weaken the home’s structure. Paying for termite repair is worth it, but it’s going to cost a pretty penny, especially since homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover termite damage, and many home warranties specifically exclude termites from their coverage as well.
- Get a second opinion. If it’s suggested that there’s a termite problem in your home, do consider seeking a second opinion before paying for termite treatment and repair. It’s worth paying for a second inspection to make sure the problem is absolutely termites before embarking on the costly path of removal and repair.
- Spend a little extra to save. Make repairs that will reduce the likelihood that termites will get into the home in the first place.
- Fix or seal any cracks in the walls or exterior of the home to reduce the chances that termites will get in.
- Don’t offer the termites a lift into the home: Keep a space between shrubbery and other plantings and the house.
- Firewood stacked against the exterior or inside a garage is like an appetizer that invites termites in. Once they’re done with the snack, they’ll look for an entrée, which will be your home. Keep wood away from the structure.
- Termites are attracted to moisture, so clear standing water puddles, drips, and damp areas.
- Act quickly and early. The best way to save on damage cost is to minimize it. Be on the lookout for signs of termites so that you can act fast and avoid major damage.
- Small holes in wood, both inside and outside, may be from termites tunneling in.
- Thin, raised tubes that move along mud or wood surfaces (they look a bit like dried worms) may be mud tubes that termites are using to move around.
- Small piles of sawdust can indicate that termites have been digging above.
- Piles of wings in corners or on windowsills are a pretty sure sign that termites have moved in.
- Termites themselves are signs it’s time to take immediate action. If a swarm of flying insects with equal-length wings is spotted indoors or out, it’s time to call an exterminator as soon as possible.
Questions to Ask About Termite Damage Repair
It’s particularly important for homeowners to make sure that any professional hired to perform termite extermination and repair is a professional who specializes in termite damage. Other pros may be excellent at construction and renovation, but termite damage is different and may not be abundantly clear to the inexperienced eye. The following questions can help homeowners find a termite repair professional who can address the problem quickly and effectively.
- Are you specifically experienced with termite damage? How long has this been your area of expertise?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Is the inspection free? If not, is the cost rolled into the repair work if I hire you?
- Will you provide a written report with your findings and recommendations and another detailing the actions that were taken?
- Which type of treatment do you recommend for my home? Why? Would it be better to be more/less aggressive?
- How will you protect the rest of my home while the extermination is done? What should I do to prepare?
- Will I need to move out during the process, and if so, for how long?
- What types of control services do you offer after the mitigation and repair
- Does your service include a warranty period?
Finding out that termites have damaged a home can be upsetting, because the nature and degree of the damage can be an unexpected (and significant) financial weight. The best way for a homeowner to approach a termite discovery is to learn as much as possible about the damage and the options so that a thoughtful choice can be made when deciding on a contractor and a solution. The following are some common questions that are often asked about termite damage and repair, along with their answers, to clear up some of the early questions homeowners may have.
Q. Is termite damage a big deal?
It is, unfortunately. First, termite damage can cause significant structural damage to wood beams, walls, and flooring. An infestation can spread quickly and undetected and do a fair amount of damage before any evidence is left for the homeowner to investigate. The good news is that if action is taken as soon as the swarm is discovered, the termites can be cleared out, damage can be repaired, and mitigation strategies can be put in place to make sure that another swarm doesn’t take up a position unnoticed. The bad news is that termites and termite damage are something that home inspectors actively look for when a house is on the market, and the discovery of termites may derail a sale completely. Some buyers aren’t even willing to purchase a home with past termite experiences, because of the financial threat a reinfestation presents. So keeping an eye out for signs of a potential infestation and dealing with it as soon as possible are good plans for homeowners to keep in place.
Q. Can I reverse termite damage myself?
If a homeowner has a great deal of knowledge about the structural elements of a home and renovation, and is absolutely certain that every termite, termite egg, termite larva, and possibility of reinfestation has been removed—maybe. The potential for new damage that goes unseen is too great to take chances. If a homeowner is planning to do the renovation and repair themselves, they’ll want to consider consulting a termite extermination professional before they repair and close up the walls to make sure that everything has been done to prevent a second occurrence.
Q. How does termite damage get fixed?
The answer to this depends on the extent of the damage. In some cases, repair is simply a matter of shoring up damaged wood with new wood, attaching new beams to damaged ones, and adding extra support behind wood paneling. More extensive damage, where the wood will no longer bear the load it’s intended to hold, will require complete replacement of the wood. Damage that severe shouldn’t generally be a DIY job unless a homeowner has a lot of knowledge about termite damage repair and weight-bearing structures; instead, they’ll want to consult a termite repair specialist or a licensed contractor for guidance.
Q. Does termite damage hurt my home value?
It can. Legally speaking, sellers must disclose any history of termite damage to potential buyers, and some experts estimate that even the disclosure can reduce the value of the property by as much as 20 percent—buyers are simply that skittish about the potential for new infestation. The best solution is for a homeowner to make sure that all extermination and repairs are completed by licensed contractors who specialize in termite repairs and to keep copies of the receipts and description of the abatement methods used to prevent another infestation. These will help reassure buyers that the problem was handled professionally and may alleviate concerns.
Q. What is the best treatment for extensive termite damage?
The best treatment is actually prevention. Homeowners will want to be on the lookout for telltale signs of termites and consult a professional as soon as they even suspect that they may have a problem. If it’s already too late and the infestation is sizable, fumigation of the entire home is the most effective treatment; the fumes can seep into every nook and cranny of the home and kill any termites, even those that are burrowed into the wood. After the fumigation is complete, repairs (including replacement of support structures) may be necessary to make sure the home is stable.
Sources: Angi, Accel Pest and Termite Control