How to Spot Termite Damage Vs Water Damage

Bamboo wall construction with termites damage

How do you spot termite damage vs water damage?

  1. Search for signs of pooling water
  2. Understand how wood rot happens
  3. Look for the presence of termite nests
  4. Spot discarded termite wings


There are times where you can mistake an infestation for wood rot. There are similarities when it comes to appearance, but it is vital to conduct further investigations to determine the real cause. After all, applying the wrong treatment can cause you thousands, just to redo it all over again. To help you differentiate termite damage vs water damage, continue on reading.


Search for Signs of Pooling Water

One of the common causes of water damage is unchecked leaks coming from supply lines and drainage. These piping are normally located in hidden areas, so searching for signs of pooling water may help. To avoid any worst case to occur, you can seek help to professionals like DrierHomes in Caldwell ID to opt with your concerns related to water damage.

While this may indicate that you have water damage in your homes, an infestation is still possible. After all, termites—especially the subterranean and damp wood kinds—are attracted to moisture. Dry wood types require fewer liquids, getting it from the wood it consumes.

To rule out a termite infestation, you can also look for other signs of their presence such as wood damage and underground mud tubes.


Understand The Process of Wood Rot

Termites eating rotted wood

At first glance, termite and water damage will look the same—especially to the untrained eyes. But one of the easiest ways to spot the difference is by looking at the 3 signs of common wood rot: Dry rot, white rot, and soft rot. Before this occurs, moisture must first be present in the material, which attracts fungi to proliferate and destroy the wood.

In dry rot, cubical forms are formed due to the expanding and shrinking of wood. This happens as fungi attack the cellulose, which can leave an “alligatoring” pattern similar to the animal. This can happen rapidly in environments between 19 to 32 ° C.

In the same temperature conditions as dry rot, wood can also be affected by white-rot fungi. The damage happens to the lignans, a component of wood, which leaves behind white or yellowish cellulose exposed. Lastly, soft rot has higher chances of happening to trees, leaving behind a honeycomb appearance. But this only happens between -17 and 43 degrees Celsius.


Look for the Presence of Termite Nests

In a termite infestation, the surface of the wood may look normal. But underneath is a hollow and heavily damaged material. Subterranean types consume softer grains like springwood, leaving behind darker and harder summerwood. This creates a pattern of honeycomb, which may confuse you with soft rot. Dry wood termites, on the other hand, harvest large passages as their nests.

To further determine the deterioration associated with this pest, it is useful to look for the presence of mud tunnels. While dry wood termites reside in the wood in which they are consuming, subterranean types create mud tubes underground to connect their nest to areas of feeding.

Mud tubes are made with a combination of wood, soil, and termite saliva. They are usually a quarter of an inch to an inch in size when used by these insects as exploratory and working tubes. Some may be empty and abandoned, but this will signal their presence in other parts of your home.


Spot Discarded Termite Wings

many of brown winged termite (alates) on cement floor

Aside from looking at the appearance of wood and nests, discarded termite wings will help you conclude that an infestation is happening. This is the most obvious and easiest way to spot their presence in your home.

Winged termites are the only ones in their colony capable of reproducing. They fly to mate with members of other colonies and shed their wings after the process. Then they search for a new area to propagate—which could be your home.

While termites like to hide, their presence can be detected if you find discarded wings nearby.


Key Takeaway

When looking at termite damage vs water damage, it is useful to differentiate between the two by searching for pooling water, looking at the appearance of the deteriorating wood, finding nests, and spotting discarded wings.

What can make it worse is that it is also possible for both to happen in one place. To help you determine the cause of your problem, you can hire a professional pest control service to inspect your building. If you find signs of infestation, Topbest can help you get rid of termites for good.