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There are more than 2,000 species of termites, and chances are some of them live in your neighborhood. The most common are subterranean termites, which tunnel into your home anywhere they find a spot where soil meets wood, making basements and rim joists especially vulnerable to damage. Left to their own devices, termites can eat a house right out from under you.
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Twice a year, take a few minutes to inspect your basement, deck, and anywhere else there's wood near soil. If you've had problems with termites before, or if your neighbors have, it's a good idea to inspect even more often.
From inside the basement or around the outside of your home's foundation, run a flashlight over all the floor joists, rim joists, and support beams you can see. Look for the long, skinny mud tunnels termites use for getting into and around your house. Damage from past infestations can make beams and studs look like sponges, with multiple gaps eaten away. If you find active termites or new damage, call a professional.
Termites aren't the only bugs that threaten your home's wood. For example, carpenter bees don't eat wood, but they burrow into it to make their nests, and they can leave a deck, porch, or swing set looking downright perforated. Plug those holes in the fall to discourage bees from returning next spring, and apply paint or varnish to the wood to make it less attractive to the bees.
Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to-or reading-Bob's 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.