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How To Tell If You Have Termite Damage

Updated April 06, 2023

How To Tell If You Have Termite Damage

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If you think you’ve found a hint of termite damage, you probably have them. There are some signs you just can’t ignore, like mud tubes and buckling floorboards. This Old House has rounded up the most common signs of termite damage, in case you want to do a little more inspecting before calling a professional pest control company.

Professionals can perform a thorough termite inspection to assess exactly what you’re dealing with, and develop targeted treatment plans and set monitoring schedules in place. For the best termite treatment, This Old House Reviews Team recommends getting a quote from multiple companies.

Signs of Termite Damage

There are two main types of termites that plague homes all over the country. Subterranean termites, the most destructive kind, live in the soil and tunnel to their food source—your home—while drywood termites actually burrow into the wood itself. Both can cause incredible amounts of damage. Here are the telltale signs termites are taking over.

Mud tubes

Subterranean termites create a network of highways out of soil and wood. These “mud tubes” are about the size of a pencil and connect the termites’ nest to their food source. They also protect termites from predators and keep moisture in. They’re often found near a house’s foundation.

It’s possible you can come across mud tubes that are no longer active. If you want to see if termites are still crawling into your home, break off a small piece of the mud tube. If the tube is repaired in a few days, that means the termites are still present and using the tunnels.

Damaged wood

You can’t always tell your wood is damaged until the termite infestation is severe, but you can compare different areas of wood in your home to see if there are any key differences. Wood damage by drywood termites will sound hollow or dull when tapped. This happens because drywood termites munch on cellulose, eating the wood from inside out.

Blisters in flooring

Subterranean termites can cause issues that look a lot like water damage. If the termites are feasting on wood right beneath your flooring, your floors may blister or swell.


If drywood termites are eating your home, you may find frass—their droppings, which are little pellets made up of wood. Mounds of them look similar to sawdust. You may be surprised that termite frass would be out in the open. Drywood termites create galleries, or tunnels, when they nest. The termites will create holes in the tunnels to push the droppings out to keep the area clean.

Swarmers and discarded wings

In the springtime, both drywood and subterranean swarmers—reproductive termites—emerge from the nest to mate and create a new colony. You may see swarmers themselves flying, but it’s more likely you’ll see discarded clumps of wings near closed doors and windows. Termites shed their wings once they land, because they no longer need them.


Subterranean termites create a clicking sound to signal danger to other termites by banging their heads against the walls or shaking their bodies.

Professional Pest Control

Now you know how to tell if you have termite damage. Even if you’ve only found a few of these signs, it’s time to call in a professional pest control company. Companies like Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive, offer targeted, in-depth termite control treatment plans. We always recommend reaching out to multiple companies to get a variety of quotes before making your final decision.

If you’d like to get a quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form. To get a free quote from Orkin, call 877-868-1416, or fill out a simple form.

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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