Buying a home has always been considered the most fundamental aspect of achieving the “American dream”. Unfortunately, a voracious termite colony can leave this dream in literal ruins. In most cases today, a termiticide barrier is applied into the soil surrounding a recently completed home. This barrier prevents subterranean termites from accessing a home’s structural wooden frame. But buying a home rarely means buying a brand new home that is fortified with this barrier; instead, many homes purchased today were built long before termiticide barriers came into existence, and this is especially the case in Massachusetts and other New England states where the real estate market is largely saturated with older homes that predate termiticide barriers. This makes termite inspections particularly important in Massachusetts where eastern subterranean termites are highly active. It is not uncommon for older homes to contain sagging floorboards, and while this sort of structural change can occur slowly from downward pressure caused by furniture and regular human traffic, sagging floorboards can also indicate possible termite damage.
Before the early to mid twentieth century in the US, little attention was paid to the type of wood materials used to build houses and how certain types of woods could contribute to future structural issues. Sagging floors are common in older homes because they were often made of ill-treated wood that was apt to develop rot, moisture-retention and termite infestations. Structural wood that is weakened by termites will cause floorboards to sag under weight, but sagging floorboards can also make termite infestations more likely to occur in the first place. This is because moist floorboards bring a home’s wood-framing closer to the soil within a crawl space, making it easy for subterranean termites to access and infest this wood. Floorboards that sag for this reason also attract water-needy termites to the moist wood-frame, leading to long lasting and extensive infestations. Termite inspections can be carried out around a home and especially in a home’s crawl space, but it may not be possible to discover the full extent of a termite infestation unless sagging floorboards are completely removed. If a home’s floorboards are sagging due to a termite infestation, or if sagging and water-logged floorboards have invited a termite infestation, it may not be necessary to jack-up the house in order to install a new foundation, but removing termite-damaged subflooring is often necessary to replace damaged joists. If a termite-infestation should be eradicated before such structural renovations become necessary, sagging floors can be partially corrected with the installation of beams that hoist a home above the ground soil.
Are there certain rooms in your home where you notice sagging floorboards?