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Managing termites for strata

Termites can often be overlooked in strata schemes, however, there is a real need to ensure effective termite management systems are installed and regular inspections are undertaken, as we would a normal stand-alone house.

There are Australian Standards which apply to this work. The work also requires a licensed technician with supervision from a QBCC licensed supervisor. What is best practice for strata schemes? The CSIRO recommends a competent pest inspection at least on an annual basis and in some cases more frequent depending on your risk of termites. At bare minimum, strata schemes should consider an annual inspection of the common property to identify any areas of concern or any active termites, termite damage or areas where termite risk is high, or could can be minimized. We call this reducing the environmental conditions. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that annual internal inspections of units should be undertaken, especially townhouses/duplexes.

There are several factors which increase the risk of attack on strata buildings:

  • Storage Practices/timber debris which may include large timber objects or cardboard boxes storage on the ground, in basements and or/next to external walls are a risk. These are easily accessible from subterranean termites which may easily establish themselves within or around the object, possibly form a nest and then move on into timber frames of a building. It is recommended that strata schemes have a sound policy related to storage practices, timber items, do not leave debris on the ground, including tiles stored against external walls.
  • Moisture conditions is possibly one of the most important factors to consider and most often not addressed properly. If a building has an external tap which is dripping, or if it doesn’t have any catchment drainage then this will create a large moisture patch which can be sensed by termites from a long distance away. Moisture causes wood decay, wood decay fungi creates a food source for termites. Other moisture considerations are adequate drainage to an area, any leaks in a building such as pipework (especially in bathrooms or laundry areas). In addition, the roof plumbing should be maintained properly, if downpipes are not aligned to stormwater there will be high moisture. We also recommend that gutters are inspected and cleared regularly to prevent blockages.
  • Structures are important factors relating mainly to items which are abutting external walls or which do not have any clearance from the ground such as decking an posts. Termites can go undetected and tunnel through such structures and find a penetration point into the building. We have seen major damage in the +$100,000.00 occur from such activity. An annual inspection could have prevented such damage. Timber posts should always be on metal stirrups and there needs to be adequate amount of space for a visual inspection.
  • Soil levels: Soil levels are very important. There should be 75mm clearance from the ground level to the slab level. In layman’s terms, you will notice the weep holes in the wall they should have at least one brick height gap from the ground. Termites can bridge up using mud mounds (tracks) up the walls, through the weep holes and into the frame of the house. Another thing to be aware of is concreting for pathways and driveways which more than often reduces the clearance gap permanently. Termites only need a 1-2mm gap between the external wall and concrete to make egress. Ensure concrete contractors are aware of the need to maintain clearance zone.

There are difference types of termites which attack buildings, some may cause minimal damage while others may cause extreme damage in a matter of weeks.

In terms of termite management at strata scheme, it is always recommended to have a full termite management system in place. Australian Standard AS 3660.2-2000 Termite management -In and around existing buildings and structures sets a minimum standard for termite management in and around existing buildings and structures as part of Australian Standard’s ‘Termite management’ group of standards.

There are several methods available to treat subterranean termites:

  1. Chemical Barrier Treatment is the most common treatment type available for subterranean termites. The goal of a subterranean termite chemical treatment is to establish a continuous termiticide barrier between the termite colony (usually in the soil) and timber in a building. The use of termicides which have a transfer effect has made this method extremely effective at protecting homes.
  2. In-ground Baiting and Monitoring Systems are also becoming a popular method for the treatment of subterranean termites. A subterranean termite baiting system involves placement of cellulose (wood material) bait stations at strategic locations around the perimeter of the home. When activity is found in the stations an insect growth regulator (IGR) is introduced which can eliminate the colony. Alternatively, they can be dusted out if high enough numbers of termites exist in the area being treated.

Should you require further information or have a termite related problem at your body corporate you wish to investigate, please don’t hesitate to call us. We can also attend to site for a free measure and quote on a termite management system.