Home Inspection, Pest Control

House Failed Termite Inspection: 7 Essential Steps To Take

Imagine you’re in the process of selling your home, or perhaps you’re considering buying a new one. You’ve done your due diligence; part of that process is a termite inspection. Suddenly, you’re faced with the unexpected: the house failed termite inspection. What does this mean, and more importantly, what do you do next?

A termite inspection is a preventative measure to save you from the costly nightmare of termite damage. It’s an essential step in the home buying or selling process and often a lender requirement.

When a house fails a termite inspection, immediate action is crucial, and the recommended steps to follow include consulting with a professional, determining the appropriate treatment, understanding cost complications, scheduling necessary repairs, retesting and monitoring, and implementing preventive measures.

Stay with us as we delve into termite control, extermination methods, and the importance of regular inspections. At the end of this discussion, you’ll be well-equipped to handle a failed termite inspection and take the necessary steps to protect your home.

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Understanding Termite Inspections

A termite inspection is a thorough examination of your inside and out property. The inspector checks all accessible areas where termites hide, including:

They’re looking for signs of both active termite colonies and past infestations. Now, you’re wondering why such an inspection is necessary.

Here’s the thing: termites are sneaky. They can chew through wood, flooring, and even wallpaper undetected, causing significant structural damage over time. When you notice the signs of a termite infestation, it is already a costly problem.

How a Termite Inspection is Conducted

Consider a termite inspection as your first line of defense against these destructive pests. It’s a proactive step that can save you from the headache of costly repairs down the line.

Here’s a glimpse into how a termite inspection is conducted:

  • Visual Inspection: The inspector visually checks all accessible areas of your home, looking for signs of termites like mud tubes, damaged wood, and termite wings.
  • Moisture Meter: Termites thrive in moist environments. An inspector uses a moisture meter to detect high moisture levels in walls, floors, and ceilings, which indicate that conditions are conducive for a current infestation.
  • Termatrac: This specialized device uses radar to detect termite activity behind walls and other inaccessible areas.
  • Thermal Imaging Camera: This tool helps detect heat patterns caused by termite activity within walls.

Remember, a termite inspection isn’t just about finding the current termite activity. It’s about protecting your home, your sanctuary, from potential damage. It’s about peace of mind.

So, whether buying, selling, or simply maintaining your home, a termite inspection is necessary, not a luxury.

Related reading: Best Thermal Imaging Cameras for Home Inspection

House Failed Termite Inspection - A Wood Destroying Pest Inspection Report Paper With Failed Mark

What Does House Failed Termite Inspection Mean?

It can sound quite alarming when you hear that your house has “failed” a termite inspection. A failed termite inspection indicates that the professional inspector has found signs of active termite infestation or damage caused by past infestations in your home.

You’re thinking, “So, there are termites. How bad could it be?” Well, termites are not just any pest. They’re known as “silent destroyers” for a reason. These tiny insects have an insatiable appetite for wood and can cause extensive damage to your home’s structure over time.

Fun fact

A swarm of around 60,000 termites can consume a wooden beam that measures 1.5 inches in thickness, 3.5 inches in width, and 96 inches in length within approximately five months, depending on the temperature.

Here’s a snapshot of the potential damage termites can cause:

  • Structural Damage: Termites can weaken support beams, floor joists, and wall studs. Over time, this compromises the structural integrity of your home.
  • Cosmetic Damage: Termites also damage non-structural elements like baseboards, door frames, and furniture. This type of damage is often the first sign homeowners notice.
  • Damage to Other Materials: Believe it or not, termites don’t just eat wood. They can also damage plaster, metal siding, and even insulation.

Related Reading: What Do Termites Eat & Feeding Habits

House Failed Termite Inspection - Holding A Termite Damaged Wood

Turning the Tide: 7 Steps to Overcome a Failed Termite Inspection

So, you’ve just received the news: your house has failed a termite inspection report. Your mind is likely buzzing with questions and concerns, but there are immediate steps you can take to address the situation and protect your home.

Step 1: Reach Out to a Professional Exterminator

While trying and handling the situation yourself is tempting, termite extermination is not a DIY project. Termites are persistent pests, requiring specialized knowledge and tools to eliminate a termite colony effectively.

When you contact a professional exterminator, they’ll typically start with a thorough inspection to assess the extent of the infestation and damage. This will help them devise a customized treatment plan for your home.

Step 2: Determine the Appropriate Treatment

There are several methods of termite treatment, and the right one for you will depend on factors like the species of termite, the extent of the infestation, and the layout of your home.

Common Termite Treatment Methods

Here are some common termite treatment methods:

  • Liquid Termite Treatment: This involves applying a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide, in the soil around your home. This creates a barrier that kills termites attempting to enter your home and those returning to their colony, effectively eliminating the infestation.
  • Termite Bait Systems: In this method, bait stations filled with cellulose material (a termite food source) are installed around your home. The bait is laced with a slow-acting poison, which the foraging termites carry back to their colony, gradually killing off the entire colony.
  • Fumigation: Fumigation is necessary for severe infestations, particularly by drywood termites. This involves covering your home with a tent and filling it with fumigation that kills the termites.

Step 3: Understand the Cost Complications

While the inspection cost seems steep, consider it an investment in your home. The average cost of termite treatment is often far less than the cost of repairing the severe damage caused by an unchecked termite infestation.

The costly issues of termite treatment can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of treatment, the size of the infestation, the extent of the damage, the location, and the service provider.

  • Localized spot treatments: Treating a specific area or a few isolated colonies can range from $250 to $1,500.
  • Soil treatments: Soil treatments are specifically for subterranean termites that live underground. The cost ranges from $750 to $2500 on average.
  • Extensive treatments: Tent fumigation is an extensive treatment that involves covering the entire structure with a tent and using gas to eliminate drywood termites. Depending on the property size, the cost can range from a few thousand to several thousand dollars.

Ongoing preventive measures, such as regular inspections and monitoring, are also recommended, and their costs vary.

Step 4: Schedule Necessary Treatment and Repairs

When it comes to termite treatment, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best method for your home depends on several factors, including the type of termite, the extent of the infestation, and the layout of your property.

Let’s delve into the details of various termite treatment methods, their pros and cons, and the time frame for each.

Liquid Termite Treatment

Liquid termite treatment involves creating a chemical barrier in the soil around your home. The exterminator applies a liquid pesticide, or termiticide, which kills termites that come into contact with it.


  • Provides immediate results
  • Used to treat both the interior and exterior of your home
  • Long-lasting, protect your home for several years


  • Requires significant amount of pesticide
  • Not be suitable for homes with a high water table or those near bodies of water

Time Frame: Treatment can be completed in a day, but it takes up to a few months for the termites to come into contact with the pesticide and die.

Termite Bait Systems

Termite bait systems involve placing bait stations filled with a cellulose-based food source around your home. The bait is laced with a slow-acting poison, which the termites carry back to their colony, gradually killing it off.


  • Environmentally friendly; uses less pesticide
  • Targets the entire colony, including the termite queen


  • Slower acting; takes several months to eliminate the colony
  • Requires regular monitoring and maintenance

Time Frame: Installation is completed in a day, but it takes several months to a year to fully eliminate the colony.


Fumigation is typically used for severe infestations, particularly by drywood termites. The home is covered with a tent and filled with a fumigant that kills the termites.


  • Highly effective; kill all termites in the home
  • Fast-acting; eliminates the active infestation in a few days


  • Requires you to vacate your home during treatment
  • Does not provide residual protection against future infestations

Time Frame: The fumigation process typically takes 1-3 days, but you need to stay out of your home for up to a week to ensure all fumigant has dissipated.

Each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses. Discuss these options with your exterminator to determine the best course of action for your home.

Step 5: Retest and Monitor

Once the initial termite treatment and repairs are completed, consider scheduling a re-inspection with a certified termite inspector. They will examine the treated areas and ensure the termites have been eradicated.

The inspector may recommend ongoing monitoring measures to detect any new termite activity in the future.

Step 6: Implement Preventive Measures

To prevent future termite infestations, consider implementing preventive measures recommended by the pest control company.

These include:

  • Regular inspections
  • Installing termite barriers or shields
  • Maintaining proper drainage around your property
  • Reducing wood-to-soil contact
  • Practicing good housekeeping to eliminate potential termite food sources

Step 7: Educate Yourself

Take the opportunity to educate yourself about termite issues, such as signs of termites and termite prevention. To educate yourself about termites, you can consult resources such as reputable websites and books or even attend workshops or seminars offered by local pest control companies or extension services.

These sources can provide valuable insights into termite behavior, prevention methods, and treatment options specific to your region.

Frequently Asked Questions About House Failed Termite Inspection

Navigating the world of termite inspections and treatments can be daunting. To help you out, we’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions homeowners have about termites and termite inspections.

How do you know if you have previous termite treatment?

Look for drilled holes in the concrete around your home, used for subterranean termite treatments or remnants of termite bait stations. Previous homeowners or pest control companies may have left documentation of past treatments.

What are the signs of a termite infestation?

Signs of a major termite infestation can include visible damage to wood structures, discarded wings, termite droppings (also known as frass), and mud tubes on exterior walls.

Is it bad to buy a house with termite damage?

Buying a house with termite damage isn’t necessarily bad, but it does require careful consideration. You need to assess the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs and ensure that the infestation has been fully treated.

How often should I get a termite inspection?

As a rule of thumb, you should have your home inspected for termites every 1 to 2 years. However, if you live in an area prone to termite activity or if your home has had a previous infestation, you need more frequent inspections.

Can I treat a termite infestation myself?

While it’s understandable to want to tackle problems around your home alone, termite treatment is best left to the professionals. Termites are persistent pests, requiring specialized knowledge and tools to eliminate a termite colony effectively.

Can termites come back after treatment?

Yes, termites can return after treatment, especially if conducive conditions remain. That’s why it’s important to have regular inspections and maintain a termite prevention plan.

Who pays for termite damage when buying a home?

The buyer is typically responsible for paying for termite damage found after an inspection. It is common for the buyer to bear the cost of any termite treatments or repairs needed after the purchase is complete.

Wrapping Up

Navigating the aftermath of a failed termite inspection can feel overwhelming. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey. You can tackle this challenge head-on with the right information and professional help.

Termites are a common issue for homeowners, but they’re not insurmountable. With regular inspections, professional treatment, and a proactive approach to prevention, you can protect your home from these destructive pests.

So, stay vigilant, stay informed, and remember your home is more than just a building. It’s your sanctuary, and it’s worth protecting.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.