Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crawlspace Termite Damage or Foundation Repair? You be the judge!

It always amazes me the extent of termite infestation and damage that can occur to the crawlspace of a home before a homeowner becomes concerned. Take for instance the inspection I ran today. A call came in from a homeowner complaining of “sinking floors” and he thought possibly the joists were either damaged or sagging. He claims on the phone he has never had a water problem. I go out to the customer’s home and speak with him before inspecting the crawlspace. He shows me ½” separation cracks in the drywall above almost every doorway along the middle hallway. The floor to the home slopes to the center anywhere from 2 to 4 inches. I realize at this point that he has either termite damage or excessive wood rot.
Normally I do not start “guessing” as to what is going on before I look at the crawl space, but I was fairly confident due to the condition of the floors and walls. I told the homeowner that he probably had wood rot or termite damage in the crawlspace. Based on his reaction, you would have thought I was an idiot for what I had just told him. He was convinced that the piers or the outside foundation had settled. I replied that maybe it could be something else, and I needed to look at it to know for sure; so we both walked outside to examine the outside foundation. On the outside, I asked him if he checked the crawl often. He admitted he hadn’t been down there in over 10 years. He also said that he couldn’t figure out how it was the foundation when there haven’t been any cracks in the brick. Of course, the foundation was his assumption. This is what I saw:
Crawlspace Center Beam with mud tunnels

I do not consider myself a “termite” expert. I always recommend a local pest control contractor to our clients when they have an active termite infestation. However, I do consider our company to be experts at repairing the damage that termites cause to structural wood components in crawl spaces and basement. I say all that to say that this is an extreme infestation of termites. I consider this case extreme because the homeowner is currently living in the premise and unaware of their presence. They have destroyed ¾ of the structural wood components in the home. I counted over 30 tunnel “hills” or mounds (it’s like an ant hill but with termite tunnels).
Needless to say, the homeowner was shocked by the pictures. The total damage was 40 feet of center beam replacement, 27 floor joist replacements, 40 feet of sill plate replacement, and some additional block piers. These are very difficult repairs to perform on your back so they are not light on the wallet. If you suspect your floors are moving or you have drywall cracks above doorways or above headers, give us a call before they damage gets out of hand and the repairs very costly. Call us at 1-877-409-2837 or visit us at The Crawl Space Company.  Sign up online for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Thanks for listening to the rambling thoughts of a crawlspace inspector,
Larry Ralph Jr.



  1. do you have photos from this crawl space showing your repairs to the main beam

  2. I do not have any pictures of the repairs to this particular home. I do have some pictures of some repaired beams. Email us if you would like to see some.


Please do not post your website as a link if you are not going to link back to ours from your website.