Let's Talk Termites

A forum for DIY, cars, pets and all things related to home life
donguri
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 am
Location: Aichi
Has thanked: 153 times
Been thanked: 84 times

Let's Talk Termites

Post by donguri » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:13 pm

The Mr. and I have been looking at properties in the deep inaka of Aichi-ken. We found a kominka that we like and feel will suit our grander, long-term goals. The price is right and we love the location and grounds. The kominka was built around 昭和5, so around 1930 and has been vacant for five years, although the current owners have come and aired it out once in a while, turned on the water and used the electric. It's certainly aged and in need of repairs, but the bones of it seem sound, the lifelines are intact and functioning, and the roof appears stable with no obvious water leakage anywhere.

Upon closer inspection I found what I suspect are signs of termites between some of the ceiling slats on the second floor. The little tunnel-like blobs aren't big but there are more than a few. Hailing from the cold climate of the upper midwest USA, I have no experience with termites and have just started learning about the horror the past couple years. So I'm looking for any advice, feedback or comments, folks!

Anyone here have experience in this area?
Is this just a normal situation with old kominka territory?
What's the best way to deal with the problem?
Does this require professional extermination? Or is it just a clean it up and maintain from now on situation?
Could it be キクイムシ (bark beetles~ I'm told they're quite common to kominka life) ?
Maybe I'm just having nervous feelings based on lack of knowledge?

Thanks in advance for any wisdom ~ or wisecracks, a sense of humor is crucial here, I think!
Attachments
IMG_0162.JPG
IMG_0162.JPG (62.02 KiB) Viewed 408 times
IMG_0161.JPG
IMG_0161.JPG (87.63 KiB) Viewed 408 times

User avatar
gonbechan
Founder
Founder
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 am
Has thanked: 1118 times
Been thanked: 575 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by gonbechan » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:33 pm

That wood looks really new. And that looks very much like termite tunnels.
It could be that they just patched up a horrific infestation just to be able to sell the house.
If there are termites in the ceiling, there are probably many many more of them under the floor.
The cost for extermination varies, but it is usually from 1000~1500 yen per m2.

However you can pay the extermination service to inspect the house before you decide to buy and then if the damage is not extreme, you can haggle the extermination price off the asking price.

User avatar
BrettRas
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:30 am
Location: Ojika Island, Nagasaki
Has thanked: 56 times
Been thanked: 159 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by BrettRas » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:51 pm

I'm sorry it's a little hard to tell because of the focus there, but...

Those look more like the little sacks left behind from metamorphosis of another insect. I'm not sure which it is, but it seems to like to make those little tube-like things in tight gaps like that. I have seen them many times. Especially along ceiling boards just like in the photos. Did you poke/pull at them? If they are silky/cottony like cocoons inside, then I'd say that is what you are looking at. They may have other dirt/wood bits stuck to the outside of the silk as well.

If on the other hand, the entire tube is sandy/sawdusty, and you break it apart and there is eaten away wood underneath (or bugs marching along) then you are looking at termites.
Brett Rasmussen

http://www.okibi.jp

User avatar
BrettRas
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:30 am
Location: Ojika Island, Nagasaki
Has thanked: 56 times
Been thanked: 159 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by BrettRas » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:57 pm

Sorry, forgot to mention that if it is the first I wouldn't worry too much as long as the place isn't covered in them.

Either way, you are going to want to inspect above the ceiling and below the floor before you buy. Make sure you look at all of the supports you can to confirm the condition and note anything that doesn't look good. Even if there are not termites there now, there may be damage from the past and you'll want to know what you're dealing with there before you buy.
Brett Rasmussen

http://www.okibi.jp

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 2540
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 1679 times
Been thanked: 1131 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Dec 09, 2016 6:53 am

I don't have much to add about termites as not really had any experience of them but what I did want to say was congratulations on finding a good kominka that suits your plans

:happy-wavemulticolor:

Hope it comes together for you.

The pre price haggling inspection sounds like a good idea, that way you know what you are getting into and if it needs treating you can use that to knock the price down.

donguri
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 am
Location: Aichi
Has thanked: 153 times
Been thanked: 84 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by donguri » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:52 pm

Thanks, Gonbechan and Brett for your input, much appreciated.
gonbechan wrote:That wood looks really new. And that looks very much like termite tunnels.
It could be that they just patched up a horrific infestation just to be able to sell the house.

The wood looks less new in person, definitely nothing has been done construction-wise in a long time. The price is really low and having met the owners, I'd say they are just hoping for someone to take it off their hands and avoid having to deal with all the junk and maintaining the grounds. I suspect no foul play.
BrettRas wrote: Those look more like the little sacks left behind from metamorphosis of another insect. I'm not sure which it is, but it seems to like to make those little tube-like things in tight gaps like that. I have seen them many times. Especially along ceiling boards just like in the photos. Did you poke/pull at them? If they are silky/cottony like cocoons inside, then I'd say that is what you are looking at. They may have other dirt/wood bits stuck to the outside of the silk as well.

If on the other hand, the entire tube is sandy/sawdusty, and you break it apart and there is eaten away wood underneath (or bugs marching along) then you are looking at termites.
Did not get handy with any of them but we'll be back out there for a look next week. Hopefully a bug-man will accompany us and give a professional assessment.
BrettRas wrote: Either way, you are going to want to inspect above the ceiling and below the floor before you buy. Make sure you look at all of the supports you can to confirm the condition and note anything that doesn't look good. Even if there are not termites there now, there may be damage from the past and you'll want to know what you're dealing with there before you buy.
Roger that, Brett. We got permission today from the owner to open up the ceilings and whatever we need to do to get answers. I've checked under the house as much as I can without completely crawling under there, and everything looks pretty sound. There are no termite trails or anything outside. Haven't found any obvious chewed-out sections other than a small bit on the corner of the step up from the doma, and it's not clear whether that was termite damage or something else. But I definitely want to see above that second floor ceiling~if termites chowed down on any of the supports up there it could be dangerous and put restoration completely out of our budget.

As it stands, the price is quite low, but we will be offering less, how much less will depend on what we find on our next inspection. There's also a lot of junk left in house and even more in the outbuilding. Some of it is usable, but much of it is just junk. If the owners don't want to pay to have it removed, and that was basically what they told us, then we'll deal with it but ask for a discount.

donguri
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 am
Location: Aichi
Has thanked: 153 times
Been thanked: 84 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by donguri » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:59 pm

Zasso Nouka wrote:I don't have much to add about termites as not really had any experience of them but what I did want to say was congratulations on finding a good kominka that suits your plans

Hope it comes together for you.

The pre price haggling inspection sounds like a good idea, that way you know what you are getting into and if it needs treating you can use that to knock the price down.
Thank you, Zasso, I hope it comes together too. We're kind of busting our brains with various simulations right now, trying to figure out how to make the whole thing work and come to grips with the scale of the project. Are we really ready for the amount of work that comes with such a big, old place? Anyway, there's no pressure to decide quickly, but it'll feel good to move to the next step. More as it develops!

User avatar
Zasso Nouka
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 2540
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:37 am
Location: Chiba Prefecture
Has thanked: 1679 times
Been thanked: 1131 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:26 am

Best of luck and looking forward to hearing how you guys get on :thumbup:

User avatar
Eric in Japan
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:21 pm
Has thanked: 200 times
Been thanked: 371 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by Eric in Japan » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:28 pm

Is the local environment humid (lol Japan- where isn't?) I mean is there open space- gravel or maintained lawn- around the house or is it brush growing right up to the foundation?
They love above average humidity. I would say check around the bath, but if the house has been vacant a long time, that wouldn't matter...
Look for termite tubes and bridges from the ground to the wood.
Lift up the tatami mats.
Are any fallen branches, trees/ vines/ other paths for infestation touching the house?

A former student of mine discovered a termite infestation in his house when getting out of the bath. He reached out to steady himself and put his hand through the frame of his bathroom door.

When in doubt, have it checked.
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

donguri
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 am
Location: Aichi
Has thanked: 153 times
Been thanked: 84 times

Re: Let's Talk Termites

Post by donguri » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:29 am

Thanks, Eric.
Eric in Japan wrote:Is the local environment humid (lol Japan- where isn't?) I mean is there open space- gravel or maintained lawn- around the house or is it brush growing right up to the foundation?
It doesn't seem to be an extremely humid location, and there is ventilation under the house and all throughout as a large portion of the house is engawa. There is gravel, concrete and maintained lawn in various sections around the house. There are a few trees around the house, but several meters away and it gets a lot of sun throughout the day.
Eric in Japan wrote: Look for termite tubes and bridges from the ground to the wood.
Lift up the tatami mats.
Are any fallen branches, trees/ vines/ other paths for infestation touching the house?
Have not found anything tube-like entering from the ground or anywhere outside. We will indeed need to inspect under the tatami. The exterior is pretty tidy, but I'll check again with a keener eye for potential paths. We'll also have a pro come and check inside the ceiling, there are some other structural reinforcement issues that may need to be dealt with, so we're going to be up there anyway. We'll see what we find...hidden treasure would be nice, but I'd be happy with just some dust and a few dead bugs. ;)