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Post & Beam - Powderpost Beetle

We recently disassembled a late 1700’s post and beam home in Freeman, Maine that had been in my wife’s family. The building was in a rather sad state of repair and needed to be moved. Much of the original wood work and finishes were still in place (grain painting and all). The purpose of my posting is to see if anyone has had any experience with “powder post beetles” and what can be used to stop them as well as the best finish to use once they’ve been treated to prevent re-infestation. A few of the hand-hewn beams have had – and still have – these pests. I notice the pin-hole marks and on one of the more heavily damaged beams I dug down in and found a few larvae – so I know it’s still an active infestation. I’ve done some web searches and found a couple of products (Bora-care for one) which sounds like it will kill the pests and prevent re-infestation. However on some University websites it sounds like possibly the best way to treat it is to just treat the obviously invested spots with poison and then seal all the wood with a wood finish. Any thoughts?? I hate to spend a bunch of money on treating all the wood with a product like Bora-care if it’s not necessary but I definitely want them gone prior to reassembling the structure. Any thoughts / comments / suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Anyone with a similar experience?

Re: Post & Beam - Powderpost Beetle

Another alternative would be to heat the wood to 160F ?. Can't remember for sure the exact minimum temp and don't have time to dig out the reference materials. The high temp must be reached throughout the entire thickness and held for a duration of time. (2 hours ?) Again, can't remember exactly. If needs be I can look it up later.

Anyway...if you have a sawmill and kiln nearby, you might be able to get them to load your wood in the kiln and kill the buggers that way. Cost ??? Unknown. Would have to ask them.

Re: Post & Beam - Powderpost Beetle

Thanks for the reply - it's appreciated. I may check into the heating option - however I think the length of some of the timbers may be an issue (about 30'), not sure how long the typical kilns are but will check it out.
Thanks again.

Re: Post & Beam - Powderpost Beetle

Another option,which may be the answer as concerns the long timbers too... is fumigation.

When I lived out in CO, there was a severe infestation of beetles beginning. Many beetle-kill Ponderosa pines. The forestry service would cut down the infested trees, bag with rolls of plastic and then fumigate. This might be a good option for you *if* you can acquire the chemicals and/or the services of a licensed fumigator. County extension service *might* be able to help you acquire the necessary stuff....or direct you to someone to do the deed.

Hypothetically, you could do the kill on site that way. No transport hopefully.

(See #7, bottom of page)

And about 1/2 way down that page ..."However, the most effective way to eliminate anobiid powderpost beetle infestations is to fumigate using sulfur flouride or methyl bromide."

Google - powderpost beetle fumigation - for all manner of info....if you haven't already.

Re: Post & Beam - Powderpost Beetle

I wanted to thank everyone for the input and give you an update as well.
I’ve started removing the beams from our storage building during the weekends and cleaning them, a major undertaking in of itself. I purchased some deck cleaner that contains bleach and diluted it since I just wanted to remove the 200 +/- years of grime, not the patina. I’m also at the same time removing the decayed areas and will patch as necessary. I ended up ordering a 25 pound container of Timbor which I will apply at a 15% mixture once I’ve finished cleaning the beams and letting them dry.
I’m currently in the process of getting the site cleared at a piece of property we own on Fahi Pond in Embden, Maine. I’m in hopes of getting the structure reassembled next year and will work on the interior and exterior cosmetics over the next two to three years. Prior to reassembling the post and beam structure I’m planning on putting a clear finish over all the beams – I haven’t fully decided on what type of finish yet, however the information I received back from various resources stated that this would be a good preventative measure to keep pests from reentering the wood. Any thoughts on what type of finish I should use?
Thanks once again to everyone, I’ll keep you updated as time goes by. I've also attached a few photos of the house we removed.

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