How ant capping keeps termites out of a building.

Ant Capping is designed to prevent undetected termite entry.

As with all termite management systems, they are primarily designed to force termites out in the open so they can be easily detected during an inspection, or to deter their entry. For these systems to work effectively, 2 conditions must be met:

  1. The physical barrier system needs to be complete, covering all entry points and forming a continuous barrier around the perimeter of the building.
  2. The property needs to be regularly inspected to ensure that the system is working correctly and there are no termites trying to infest the property.

Check the following photos that identify common problems with ant capping.

The termites have built a large mud shelter tube under this ant cap, but then you see them mysteriously appear in the timber above the ant cap! If this capping was a continuous barrier for the full width of the brick, they would have to build their mud shelter tube OVER the ant cap.

The termites have built a large mud shelter tube under this ant cap, but then you see them mysteriously appear in the timber above the ant cap! If this capping was a continuous barrier for the full width of the brick, they would have to build their mud shelter tube OVER the ant cap.

This explains why termites get in without being seen -  the ant capping does not cover the full width of the brick! This  does not  meet the Australian standard for termite protection.

This explains why termites get in without being seen -  the ant capping does not cover the full width of the brick! This does not meet the Australian standard for termite protection.

This ant capping was only partially existent, with an inspection edge that goes off into oblivion. It was not able to prevent the termites getting in a chewing out this frame.  

This ant capping was only partially existent, with an inspection edge that goes off into oblivion. It was not able to prevent the termites getting in a chewing out this frame.  

The ant cap on this wall ends up butting up to a timber frame, there's no inspection edge and no surprises the termites got in. 

The ant cap on this wall ends up butting up to a timber frame, there's no inspection edge and no surprises the termites got in. 

This is the most common failing of ant capping, failing to form a continuous barrier when there is a vertical transition, nothing is preventing the termites coming up between the two piers and into the lower bearer, and it would not be visible until it's too late.  

This is the most common failing of ant capping, failing to form a continuous barrier when there is a vertical transition, nothing is preventing the termites coming up between the two piers and into the lower bearer, and it would not be visible until it's too late.  

Hidden dangers of previous treatments.

With 1 in 3 Australian houses being affected by termites, it's not uncommon for a house to have had a previous treatment, and while it's good that something has been done to deal with the termites, sometimes the residues of the treatment are far from safe.

Take Arsenic Trioxide for example.

This highly toxic substance has been used for many years to eradicate termite colonies, the main drawback however, is that this substance is left behind in the timber long after the termites have been eradicated.

If there was any doubt about how dangerous it is, look at the MSDS for the Arsenic Dust commonly used for termite eradication and then correlate the Schedule 7 Poison label with this list.

To add insult to injury, it's mandated that notification be provided when arsenic is used to control termites in a building (as with many other termite treatments) however, during our inspections we seldom find any reference to any termite treatment in the meter box or anywhere else in the house. It's usually when we're confronted by the actual dusting that we first realise  that arsenic dusting has taken place.

If you're worried that your home could have arsenic in the timber, make sure that you get a thorough inspection outlining if there has been any termite damage or treatments.

The bright red dust you see in this picture is arsenic trioxide dust. It was used in the past to eradicate termites from this timber and the dust is clearly visible.

The bright red dust you see in this picture is arsenic trioxide dust. It was used in the past to eradicate termites from this timber and the dust is clearly visible.

The Arsenic trioxide dust penetrates deep into galleries in the timber. Thus exposing anyone who works on the timber, (think renovation) exposed to arsenic trioxide dust.   A Schedule 7 Dangerous poison .

The Arsenic trioxide dust penetrates deep into galleries in the timber. Thus exposing anyone who works on the timber, (think renovation) exposed to arsenic trioxide dust. A Schedule 7 Dangerous poison.

Hot Water units - a constant source of moisture.

Termites love moisture, no wait, they NEED moisture to survive, so it's not surprising that a big part of a good inspection requires checking for sources of moisture. A storage hot water unit has a relief valve that is often dripping water. This persistent source of moisture is ideal for termites, as they need a reliable source of water to survive. Ensure that this water is piped away rather than dripping against the footing of your house, openly inviting termites.

The Overflow on this hot water unit (Copper pipe going into the soil) drains near the base of the house, coupled with all the vegetation nearby, this is a great invitation for termites.

The Overflow on this hot water unit (Copper pipe going into the soil) drains near the base of the house, coupled with all the vegetation nearby, this is a great invitation for termites.

This overflow is actually plumbed around the hot water unit, but still drains right against the house, it actually drains next to timber lattice! Once again, vegetation is prevalent around the base of the building.

This overflow is actually plumbed around the hot water unit, but still drains right against the house, it actually drains next to timber lattice! Once again, vegetation is prevalent around the base of the building.

Even concealed hot water units have insufficient drainage. 

Even concealed hot water units have insufficient drainage. 

Subfloor covering

Access to the subfloor area of a house is vital for a proper termite inspection. More often than not, if there is a termite infestation then there will be evidence in the subfloor. Not only that, but anything that might be inviting termites into the building will probably be evident in the subfloor (Think leaking pipes and random bits of timber stored in the subfloor)

This garden area not only restricts access to the subfloor, but the plants and decaying organic matter is like a billboard inviting the termites in!

This garden area not only restricts access to the subfloor, but the plants and decaying organic matter is like a billboard inviting the termites in!

There's little hope of doing a good termite inspection with this much foliage! (And a greater chance of finding termites!)

There's little hope of doing a good termite inspection with this much foliage! (And a greater chance of finding termites!)

Not only do the plants against the building compromise the building, but having the timber in the garden makes a great appetizer for the termites before they make it inside.

Not only do the plants against the building compromise the building, but having the timber in the garden makes a great appetizer for the termites before they make it inside.

This subfloor opening was ONLY JUST big enough!

This subfloor opening was ONLY JUST big enough!

Extensive damage - often concealed!

Extensive termite workings, the termites made themselves right at home, then invited all their friends and family over for an all you can eat buffet....

Extensive termite workings, the termites made themselves right at home, then invited all their friends and family over for an all you can eat buffet....

Termites make themselves right at home in yours. This infestation was an extensive one, with large amounts of damage done to structural timbers on this house. Interestingly (or maybe not so much) the extent of the damage was only fully realised after the plaster board was removed and the frames visually inspected.

Treated timber. Getting eaten out!

Treated pine framing used in a subfloor being eaten by termites.

Treated pine framing used in a subfloor being eaten by termites.

Manufacturers of treated timbers my warrant it against termite attack, however, if you carefully read their terms and conditions, you'll notice that they won't warrant timber that's in ground contact.

http://www.chhwoodproducts.com.au/index.cfm/pageid/157/viewpage/brochures

If you look at the warranty brochure for this treated pine frame, you'll notice that things such as storing the timber on the ground, in high moisture environments or anywhere that can cause fungal decay will void the warranty. So be careful not to rely just on treated timber to prevent termite damage.

By and large, termite treated timbers do work well in resisting termites, but only if they are used in accord with good building practice and the treated timbers manufacturers recommendations.