Through Inspecting and treating 1000's of houses for white ants we have seen a pattern forming when it comes to common termite damage areas. Most of the activity and termite damage is in the wet zones. Laundry, bathroom, kitchen and subfloors! These four zones are the most likely to have high moisture issues.
Moist or damp timber and timber by-products are favoured by termites as it's easier for them to break down. Termites need moisture to survive. Being made up mostly of liquid they need to remain in a moist environment to survive, hence the need to build mud tunnels. This keeps things dark and traps the moisture in.
The other thing these zones have is warmth. White ants prefer warmth and in large numbers generate enough heat to be able to be picked up by our Thermal Camera. Check out our Termite Inspection using a Thermal Camera page for more information!
You might think the subfloor is a given seeing subterranean termites get to this area first. Poor drainage will keep a subfloor moist and being protected from the environment makes this a great place to have a nest. Having moisture in this area means the possiblilty of termites making a sub-nest (base camp) and continue to make their mud leads into the house. Are you starting to see the value in a termite barrier?
Subfloors tend to be a common place to store items for future use. Often we find a lot of stored building material under there ready for those "one day I'll" projects. This is a massive no no as it's providing a food source for white ants.
If you have to store timber under the house make sure it's on a concrete slab or at least off the ground. Raising it up off the dirt gives you some visibility, so make sure you look underneath it every month for signs of activity.
A likely place for termites to attack is in the walls behind the shower. We have learnt (from personal experience) that shower roses which have a removal able shower head commonly leak.
Why? because they are bashed around when you take them out and put them back in. Behind the wall is a 90 degree connection which has been soldered into place and is ridged. Over time and with enough punishment the solder will crack and leak. This tiny leak can go on for months not noticed.
The leak ended up only being the size of a pin and was a fine mist. We only noticed staining on the gyprock wall on the other side of the shower. Luckly we have an active barrier in place, so no termites, just black timber which crumbled in your fingers.
It's not only the shower rose that can lead to moisture issues. Common reason for high moisture readings can be caused from the breaking down of the tile grout or the waterproof membrane. This can normally be fixed quite cheaply with a regrout and seal.
It can take quite some months of termite activity before you would start to notice. Most of the time it's people cleaning and knocking the vacuum or mop against the wall for it to go through it. Either that or bubbling or rippling paint around windows or door jambs. That is why at the very least we recommend an annual termite inspection to all our customers.