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How to protect your woodwork from termites

By Umar Nsubuga

Added 7th October 2020 08:12 AM

Denis Mwanda, a fumigator says termites gain entrance to buildings through a number of ways but mainly through mud-walled shelter tubes constructed by the insects themselves.

How to protect your woodwork from termites

House under construction (photo by Umar Nsubuga)

Denis Mwanda, a fumigator says termites gain entrance to buildings through a number of ways but mainly through mud-walled shelter tubes constructed by the insects themselves.

Edward Nkata built his house in Kajansi recently, but after one year of occupancy, his wife started to complain about termites.

He did not take her seriously, only for him to start seeing markings on the ceiling, which were a thorough work of the termites.

There are many homes like Nkata's which are invaded by termites and their owners have failed to get rid of them or underscore their consequences in the home.

Termites are common in tropical and sub-tropical countries. They feed on wood or other wood-like materials as food.

Termites are divided into two types based on where they stay. There are dry wood termites, which live in wood without maintaining any connection with the soil.

On the other hand are subterranean termites, which form colonies or nests underground in the soil or near the ground level in a stump or other suitable pieces of timber. These are dome-shaped anthills. Colonies may persist for many years.

Denis Mwanda, a fumigator says termites gain entrance to buildings through a number of ways but mainly through mud-walled shelter tubes constructed by the insects themselves.

At times they get in through cracks in the building. Anti-termite treatment can be carried out before, during or after the construction of buildings. Its main purpose is to prevent the possible invasion of termites and eliminate any existing termites therein.

Pre-construction treatment involves treating the soil next to and under the building with a suitable insecticide. This creates a chemical barrier to keep termites from the building at the time of construction.

This treatment involves clearing, excavating and moistening the site, after which chemicals are applied.

A qualified person should do this. If there is a used water source like a well or spring nearby, take care not to contaminate it.

Fred Lukoda, a construction expert says construction treatment is employed during the construction process. It means providing internal and external protection of the building from termites.

Termite shields made out of galvanised iron sheets are put in the soil around the perimeter of the building.

He says, alternatively you may put a concrete apron (verandah) around the building.

Post-construction treatment is done to eliminate the existing termites and to guard against future termite attacks.

In order to carry this out, Lukoda says the building should be inspected by a qualified termite control agent to determine the extent of termite spread, the route they used for entry and what insecticides to use.

It is only after this that effective disinfection can be done. Preventive and control measures will also include treating the soil with chemicals, both along the foundation and the floor.

According to Lukoda, this is an expensive method and will involve the excavation of a trench around the building perimeter. After mixing the soil with chemicals, it is then returned into the trench in layers.

If there are any holes or cracks in the walls, they should have chemicals put in them and then sealed off with cement mortar.

Any affected woodwork should be replaced, while the existing woodwork should have a protective treatment.

This can be done by drilling small holes into the wood and putting chemicals into them.

Do not take the threat of termites lightly. Just think of the cost of replacing damaged woodwork in our home and the embarrassment of having parts of the house falling on your guests, say at a party, and do something about them. 

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