Buying second-hand furniture from yard sales or thrift stores is a great way to furnish your home inexpensively, but unfortunately, it can also introduce termites to your home. Termites can hide in second-hand furniture, and once inside your home, they can feed on the wood structure of your home, causing extensive damage. Homeowners with termite infestations need to spend an average of $3,000 to fix the damage, and if you're one of them, your second-hand finds will become a lot more expensive. Fortunately, this problem can be avoided. Here are three ways to avoid getting a termite infestation from second-hand furniture.
Inspect potential purchases carefully
Before you purchase any furniture, you need to carefully inspect it for signs that termites are present. Since termites live in tunnels deep inside the wood, it's unlikely that you will see adult termites crawling on the outside of the furniture. You will need to look for subtle clues that there may be termites inside the furniture you're interested in.
When you inspect the furniture, you may notice small holes on the surface of the wood. These holes make up part of the termites' tunnels. If the colony within the furniture is extensive, it may weaken the furniture enough that it develops cracks. If you see any holes or cracks in second-hand furniture, do not buy it.
You should also examine the floor beneath the furniture. If you see small piles of material that look like sawdust or tiny wooden pellets on the floor, do not buy that item. This material may be termite feces and it is a clear sign that the furniture is infested.
Freeze potentially infested furniture
If you have purchased a piece of used furniture and have discovered that it is infested, you can kill any termites that are present by placing the furniture in your chest freezer. This is most practical for smaller items like chairs, stools, or side tables, but larger items like dressers or tables can be disassembled and then frozen in pieces.
Make sure to wrap the furniture in plastic before you put it in the freezer to protect it from water or food. The furniture needs to be frozen for about two weeks to ensure that any termites that are hiding within it are killed. Once you remove the furniture from the freezer, handle it very carefully and allow it to warm up to room temperature before you take the plastic off.
Treat purchases with insecticides
If you don't want to freeze your used furniture, or if you don't have a large enough freezer for this purpose, you can treat infested furniture with insecticides before you bring into your house. You need to choose an insecticide that fits all of these criteria:
- Designed to kill termites;
- Wood-safe, to avoid ruining your furniture;
- Residual, so that it keeps killing termites over time.
Once you've purchased an appropriate insecticide, carefully follow the instructions on the label to apply to your furniture. Depending on the insecticide you choose, it may be sprayed or painted onto the surface of the one or it may be injected into holes or cracks in the wood.
If you're not comfortable working with insecticides, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Pest control companies have safety equipment, training, and experience that regular homeowners don't, so they can deal with the furniture without causing harm to the furniture or to any of the inhabitants of your home.
Termites can live in second-hand furniture, but that doesn't mean that you should only buy brand-new furniture. You can avoid buying infested furniture by inspecting it closely before you buy it, and if you've already bought a used piece of furniture that has termites, you can protect your house by treating the furniture with either your freezer or insecticides.
For more information about termite control, consider going to a website like http://cavanaughspest.com.