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Checking for Carpenter Ants when Buying a Home

Before buying or moving into a new home, performing a home inspection is always a smart move. You’re entitled to at least one or two pre-move in, and it’s recommended to take advantage of that right.

carpenter ants ant problem

Most inspections focus on the house’s surface – the paint job, whether there are marks or scuffs on the wall, making sure the appliances are working – and don’t pay attention to the very minor details. Skimming over your potential home may cause you to miss clues that allude to a greater problem deeper than the surface of the house, which is usually done up by the seller anyhow.

One such subtle aspect you may gloss over is a sign of carpenter ants in the house. Ants in house can be difficult to find, with carpenter ant nests being a real pain to locate. And without finding the source of the ant infestation, your home will be susceptible to carpenter ant damage, tacking on costs in addition to the home’s price.

How do you know if you have carpenter ants in the house? The following is a list of signs you may be moving into a home that still has some tenants scurrying around. Discovering your potential home is a haven for carpenter ants allows you to solve the ant problem before carpenter ant damage forces you to move again.

Look for Piles of Sawdust.

Similar to termites, carpenter ants love to dig and burrow into wood. While termites feast on the lumber, carpenter ants tunnel and nestle into structural wood. Carpenter ant damage can become significant when granted the time to go to work.

When performing a home inspection, make sure you check the structural wood of the home, particularly keeping an eye out for sawdust. These piles of breadcrumbs indicate something’s awry about the wood, and could lead you to the the source of the ant infestation. Don’t assume the sawdust naturally fell from the wood, maybe caused by previous heavy-footed homeowners or past building projects. Common areas to inspect include the wooden areas of a basement, behind cabinets and cupboards, and in electrical boxes. If you have carpenter ants in house, and the nests are indoors, pay attention to the foundation and the top of water pipes and electrical lines in the basement. These are bona-fide ant highways.

Pay close attention to any damaged wood, too. Window sills, thresholds, and other areas vulnerable to water damage are key areas; carpenter ants are attracted to moisture as much as the wood containing it.

Check the Home’s Insulation.

Carpenter ants prefer moist wood due to the consistency of the nesting material: it’s not too hard and not too soft. Rigid foamboards and other forms of house insulation are nesting alternatives carpenter ants will happily move in to.

You may be safe from checking the insulation if it’s relatively thin in your home – carpenter ants typically need 4-6 inches to work with. A thin insulation layer is unlikely in a Canadian home, so it’s best to check regardless.

Carpenter ants in the house create their satellite nests through the networks they create in optimal material. Insulation is just as easy to chew through, making it another area to look for their maze of tunnels. The insulation isn’t a part of a home that’s top-of-mind when conducting a home inspection, but it’s an important one.

Listen for Ants in the Floor and Walls.

If there is an ant problem in your house, you may not be able to see them – but you may be able to hear them.

Carpenter ants aren’t shy about their home renovation project, so they’ll continue working away at your home’s foundation even if they sense your presence. They’re small insects, though listening closely to walls can help identify an ant infestation by the faint rustling sound of working ants.

You can get close to listen in on the action, or pound on the wall to increase the volume of the sound – this may cause ants on break to stir, and that should confirm whether there’s ants in house or not.

An ant infestation can also be found beneath your feet. Undetectable damage inside floor joists can be located by tapping areas with a hammer or your knuckles. Landing on a satellite nest cavity will give a hollow sound when tapped, and can easily be accessed by a penetrating tool like a knife (it has to be replaced anyhow).

Floors of bathrooms, under dishwashers, and other areas in the home that may come in contact with water are likely spots carpenter ants would nest up, so check there first!

After a thorough inspection of your new home, and you confirm you do have an ant problem, getting rid of carpenter ants is the vital next step. Taking care of the ant infestation quickly will minimize any carpenter ant damage, potentially saving you tons of money.

Magical Pest’s specialized Ant Removal Division can also help you locate carpenter ants in the house if necessary, and eliminate them for good afterwards. Call us today at 905-738-6676 and enjoy your new home, ant-free!

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