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Florida Foundations & Termites

Most people pay little attention to the ground beneath their feet. Why should they, it’s beneath them, right? The reality is our entire lives are built upon the ground. In the pest control industry, we have to know all about the foundations of our homes and businesses. To keep pests out, we must know how they get in. The better we understand how our homes and businesses are constructed, the better we can control pests.

Homes in suburban neighborhoods are often constructed quite closely to each other. Adjacent neighbors can share the same termite problems: active termite colonies swarming from home to home. Of course, it is beneficial for pest control companies to have many adjacent neighbors as customers, but more importantly, it’s easier for technicians to manage difficult termite colonies if several neighbors have their homes treated at the same time.

Termites have populated the Florida peninsula for thousands of years. Homes in coastal cities like New Smyrna Beach and Flagler Beach, have an abundance of termite activity as do centralized cities like DeLand and Deltona, which also have substantial subterranean termite activity. Our dependence on wood for building material has provided termites with a good source of food in addition to trees.

Knowing all about a home’s foundation is an important factor to consider when applying a termiticide for termite prevention. There are several types of foundations found in Florida today. Dave’s Pest Control’s termite technicians undergo extensive training to provide the highest level of service throughout Volusia and Flagler Counties.

Types of Foundations

The Monolithic Slab

A monolithic slab is one piece of poured concrete. Concrete is 10% cement; the rest is air, water, sand, and gravel. Without an accurate amount of each ingredient in the mix, concrete will not support the heavy loads that it was meant to support. In June,1995, a department store mall in South Korea collapsed when the concrete supports cracked, killing over 500 people and injuring another 900.

There are five types of concrete mixes used in the United States today. Type 1 is the most common and is used in most construction projects. Type 3 is used in areas where freezing temperatures are anticipated. Additional types are utilized in Commercial and various other applications.

Monolithic concrete slabs typically work better in hot climates like Florida’s. These slabs are often less expensive and faster to construct than other foundations. They are more energy efficient than raised floors with crawl space and are stronger.

The first step in constructing a monolithic slab is preparing the soil by building a mound of earth or crushed stone that is then flattened with heavy machinery. Footers are dug to a minimum of 24 inches deeper than the slab as they will hold much of the weight of the walls and roofing. A plastic vapor barrier can be placed upon the soil or stone to prevent moisture from damaging the concrete from underneath.

Rebar is then placed over the plastic; without rebar, vertical loads could crack the foundation. The concrete is poured, usually four inches thick, over the steel rebar for added strength.

Monolithic slabs with stem walls have increased durability and are much stronger and stable than a simple monolithic slab foundation. A stem wall is a building technique whereby concrete is poured into a wooden mold around the perimeter of the foundation. The wooden form is usually about eight inches wide and is sprayed with water before the concrete is poured. After the concrete is dry, the form is pulled apart, leaving just the concrete wall.

Concrete blocks can also be used to form the stem wall.

The Crawl Space

A crawl space is also a common foundation type in Florida. You can think of a crawl space as a mix between a slab and a basement. The home is supported by columns or blocks of concrete. The major plumbing lines can be accessed easily as opposed to a slab where the plumbing lines are buried under the concrete. Since the main living area of the home is raised above the ground, damage from flooding is often avoided. Homes built in flood zones and along coastal areas often have a crawl space foundation. A big disadvantage of this type of foundation is that wildlife can enter underneath these types of homes. Keeping wildlife out with hardware cloth or other methods is highly recommended. A squirrel or raccoon taking up residence under your home can cause a lot of damage that can be expensive to repair.

Keeping The Foundation Dry

Water is the greatest enemy of any home’s foundation. Pooling water from air conditioner run-off can erode and deteriorate concrete until it becomes brittle. Small cracks can grow, cracking the whole foundation. Many homes with outside air conditioning units drain water too close to the home. PVC lines should be aimed away from the home and preferably extended far away from the home. Even a few feet extension is greatly beneficial.

Excessive water draws insects like termites and ants seeking water and the wood in a home. It also causes mold to grow. Mold spores can cause breathing problems and cause allergy issues. Wood rot is also caused by mold spores in wood that is constantly getting wet. Wood rot is a major issue in the warm, moist climate of Florida.

Many homes that are built in Florida have T1-11 siding. This is a textured wood made from compressed wood chips and other wood materials, and needs to be protected from the rain and humidity with regular painting. It was immensely popular in the early eighties because it was inexpensive and faster to install than brick and stucco.

Today, many of these homes with T1-11 siding have wood rot. The areas most prone to wood rot are the bottom trim around doors and garages. Any wood surface that is constantly hit by irrigation sprinklers will develop wood rot damage. Excessive run-off from rain or clogged gutters can also damage wood siding. Wood rot can be small at first, but grows over time.

Always keep water away from your home’s foundation. Fix leaking pipes and drains as quickly as possible. Roof drainage gutters should feed water away from the home. The soil grade should also drain water away from your home, not toward it. Keep a 24-inch barrier of stone around your home’s perimeter. Stone is a better choice than wood mulch because wet, rotting mulch draws insects and termites.

Keeping Bugs Out

Our professional pest control technicians are trained by industry experts, and are particularly good at finding the entry points in your home that can cause problems from termites. We inspect and examine your home’s foundation for all pest problems. Dave’s Pest Control offers termite protection by treating your homes perimeter with a chemical barrier.

Special attention is given to the type of foundation of your home.  Each type of foundation needs a different method to prevent termites.

For a monolithic slab, a termitacide is injected into the soil around your home’s perimeter. Any concrete slabs that adjoin the home’s wall must be drilled so that a continuous layer is formed around the home. The holes are 3/8” in diameter and are plugged after the treatment. The chemical is odorless and not harmful to children and pets. It will not leach into ground water as other chemicals did in the past. The treatment lasts 10 years, after which, booster treatments can be done every 10 years for continuous protection.

Crawl spaces are treated by entering the crawl space and treating the inner concrete walls underneath flooring. All the pillars touching the ground are also treated. Afterward, a yearly renewal fee is charged to keep the bond on the home current. Yearly termite inspections are provided to ensure termites are not active.

Other foundations like basements are not common in Florida due to our low elevation. If a basement is to be treated, it is approached much like a crawl except the basement slab must be drilled along the foundation wall.

Soil Pre-treats

When a home is remodeled, or if an extra room is added such as an enclosed porch, a soil pre-treat is often needed. The soil is treated with a termiticide like Termidor. Before concrete is poured in a new construction, the footers and dirt are also treated. A treatment after the construction is completed increases effectiveness.

Dave’s Pest Control uses Termidor brand insecticide. Its active ingredient is Fipronil, which chemically binds to soil particles. Termites foraging through the soil cannot detect it. By natural grooming, an entire termite colony can be eliminated in three months or less.

We are licensed and trained by the state of Florida, and all our technicians receive ongoing education and training. We service all of Flagler, Volusia, and Brevard counties and are ready to work for you. We have forged close bonds with local builders who trust and use Dave’s Pest Control regularly. Building inspectors in our service areas know that when we provide a service, it is always done right.

Call for a free estimate today.

Dan Coffey

Dcoffey@davespestcontrol.com

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