This list is based on our personal experience and observations of workmanship and is not a guarantee. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence whenever hiring contractors—obtaining multiple estimates and checking references is very important and always recommended. You should be comfortable with who you hire. Gate City Home Inspections is in no way compensated for referrals by the listed businesses and makes no warranty or guarantee of satisfaction of any work performed.
Carpenter ants are by far the most common wood destroying insect in our area. A large black or dark brown ant, they are easy to identify compared to their much smaller, earth-moving cousins. Although they do less damage than termites (they bore holes through wood to nest, rather than eat it), if left unchecked an infestation can do extensive damage to a home’s wood structure. Carpenter ants love wet wood, and often make their way to your home from dead wood in trees or wood piles outside. For their prevention, it’s important to get rid of dead trees near your home, trim tree limbs and shrubs away from the structure, and store firewood away from your home. Any leaks into your home that result in wet lumber are an invitation for an ant infestation, so be sure to inspect your home and fix any water infiltration immediately.
Termites can cause extensive damage because they actually feed on wood. They are small, delicate insects that live in colonies in the soil or in wood. They can not survive for long outside, so they build mud “tubes” from the soil to wood structures. Termites are social insects whose colonies are organized into castes with large "reproductives" and smaller workers and soldiers. Workers feed the colony and tend to the needs of the queen while soldiers defend the colony from invaders such as ants. These highly organized colonies allow termites to be efficient and very destructive when they attack our homes.
Carpenter bees, a large bee that resembles a bumble bee, are prevalent in the northeast. Carpenter bees occasionally construct nests in exterior structural or decorative wood such as siding, fascia boards, trim, and log homes. A round hole (~1/2" diameter) is chewed in the wood surface then a tunnel is bored, usually at 90 degrees to the entrance. They also tend to come back and use the same tunnels year after year, and prefer to make them in the full sun, rather than shaded areas. Unfinished wood is far more susceptible to carpenter bees than finished wood, so keeping a good painted surface is your best line of defense. It’s important to repair the large holes bored by carpenter bees because water infiltration can cause more damage than the bees themselves.
Powder Post Beetle (Woodworm)
Powder Post Beetles are a tiny, wood-boring insect primarily found in coastal areas, although they can be spread virtually anywhere inside lumber. They spend most of their life as wood-consuming larvae (hence the nickname “woodworm”). Unlike other wood-destroying insects, they are found to repeatedly infest the same dry wood for generations, so they have the potential to cause extensive damage. An infestation is fairly easy to treat, although harder to detect, as the larvae stay in the wood and the short-lived adult beetle bores to the surface.
One of the most common questions I get is "Does the house need gutters?". The answer is yes! Many of the defects found on and in a home during a home inspection have to do with water intrusion - and, more often than not, the absence of rain gutters is a contributing factor. An inch of rain running off the roof of an average-size house is almost 1,000 gallons of water. Don't believe that number? Here's the equation:
Now imagine that much water running down the face of your foundation, or splashing up onto the house at driveways, decks and steps, and it's easier to see why water intrusion is an issue at basements and doorways and why wood rot occurs more often at lower locations on the exterior. Poorly managed runoff water can also cause erosion beneath the building's foundation, driveways, walkways, patios and garage floors. Properly installed and maintained rain gutters, with downspout extensions that get the water away from your house, really are necessary for the long-term health of the building. And they do help in the winter too - splash-up from snow melting on the roof can keep surfaces near the ground constantly wet, especially over hard surfaces like decks, steps and driveways.