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Termite shields compared with chemical poisons, bait traps, & concrete encasement of foam: this article discusses the pros and cons of different methods used to avoid termite attack on buildings including structures whose foundations are insulated with Styrofoam™ or similar insulating board products that may form an attack pathway for insects. We describe what termite shields are, what they look like, and how and where they are installed. We compare the effectiveness of termite shields with termite bait traps and chemical pesticide barriers as methods for controlling termite damage at or in buildings. We also illustrate the careful use of solid concrete encasement as an approach to avoiding insect attack on a building through foam insulation.
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Answer: a DOW expert recommends chemical termiticide as an insect attack barrier around foam board insulated buildings
What is a Termiticide? What's the difference between a termiticide (chemical treatment) & a termite shield?
Termiticide, not a termite shield, is the solution recommended by Jerry Severson. Severson heads research into foundation insulation at Dow Chemical Company's Granville Research Center, in Granville, Ohio.
Termites can burrow through many building materials, including all forms of insulation, and no mechanical guard offers complete protection from termites indicated Mr. Severson.
Termite poisons improperly applied to the soil under a building can give off fumes that enter the home, its heating or air conditioning systems (duct work), and can make occupants sick. To avoid contaminating a building through improperly-applied termite chemicals, hire a reputable local pest control expert who is fully aware of the building's HVAC system design and the location of its components, and if the house is served by a private well, make sure that the well is adequately distant from any location where termiticides are to be applied. See Pesticides Contaminate House [PDF].
Termiticides are not normally applied to soils outside of a foundation surrounding a dirt crawl space, also because of the possible surprise entry of chemicals or fumes into the building through the crawl space soils. However special (more costly) methods may be used such as the excavation of a trench around the building, mixing the termiticide directly with the soil (making certain thereby that no chemical is escaping to where it does not belong), and the soil is then replaced in the trench.
Also make sure that the termiticide chemical [and the solvent used to apply it] to be used in the soil is not one that can harm exposed insulation around the building's foundation.
As discussed in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:
Below our termite mud tube photos show that a termite shield appears to have been installed along most but not all of the building foundation top. Or was it? We don't know if this is wall flashing that leaves sills exposed just under the wall edge, or whether the flashing extends across the foundation to the interior (as recommended).
But our second termite photo (below right) shows a termite mud tube ascending the same foundation wall and passing under the termite shield. The shield makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for termites to attack a building.
In general, termite shields should be a minimum of 6 inches above grade and extend out 2 inches on either side of the foundation at a 45 degree angle. In addition to making termite infestations visible, they also form a capillary break between the foundation and sill. Areas where a termite shield cannot be used, for example, where a concrete stairway abuts a foundation wall, are at high risk for termite entry.
In termite-prone regions, the only reliable way to prevent termite damage is to use treated wood in critical locations and treat the surrounding soil with termiticide.
See INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE for termite and other wood destroying insect information in depth, including termite inspection case reports, field photos and advice. More installation details for termite shields and other building flashing can be found at FLASHING WALL DETAILS. Readers concerned about termite damage associated with foam, fiberglass, or other building insulation materials should also see Insects & Foam Insulation. Also see TERMITE SHIELDS vs TERMITICIDE for a discussion of termite shields and insect attack on buildings using foam board foundation insulation.
See ROT, FUNGUS, TERMITES for termite and other wood destroying insect information in depth, including termite inspection case reports, field photos and advice.
More installation details for termite shields and other building flashing can be found at FLASHING WALL DETAILS.
[Original article: Avoiding Termite Attack Through Foam Insulation]
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
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