There are so many things to consider when buying a house, it’s impossible to account for every scenario. Some issues are harder to spot than others and therefore could quite easily be missed off your list, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less serious or damaging. One of those issues is woodworm.
What is woodworm?
Woodworm refers to the larvae of several types of beetles. Adult beetles lay eggs in wood and timber. As the larvae grow over the course of up to five years, they eat through the wood and create tunnels. When they grow into adults, they lay more eggs before leaving.
Types of woodworm
As mentioned, there are lots of different types of woodworm. Beetles responsible for woodworm include:
- Common furniture beetle
- Death watch beetle (this beetle makes a ticking noise and is commonly found in areas with wet rot)
- Powder post beetle
- Wood boring weevil
There are many more types of woodworm, but these are some of the most common.
Where can woodworm form?
Woodworm can be found almost anywhere that’s wood. This includes wooden beams and house structures, sheds, dining tables and other furniture. Generally, they prefer damp wood, so if you have damp in your house, you’re more likely to be susceptible to woodworm. That being said, the issue can occur in dry wood, too.
What are the signs of woodworm?
Unfortunately, woodworm is very easy to overlook, and when left untreated, infestations can happen. Tell-tale signs of woodworm include:
- Holes in wood. If you notice a piece of wood has lots of tiny holes in it, it’s likely the result of woodworm. The holes are typically between 1mm-2mm in size.
- Beetles in your house. If you notice the presence of beetles in your home, there’s a high chance you have woodworm.
- Crumbling wood. Woodworm can affect the structural integrity of the wood they infest, so if you notice a piece of wood in your home is crumbling, it could be because of woodworm.
- Frass. This is the name given to the excrement left behind from woodworm. It resembles a fine powder, so if you notice this anywhere in your home, it’s a pretty solid sign that woodworm is present.
Woodworm can disappear by themselves (usually if the damp wood dries out), so if you notice holes in wood, you should try to determine if they’re from a previous infestation or if it’s an active infestation by looking out for things like frass and beetles.
Is woodworm serious?
Generally speaking, woodworm isn’t serious. It takes an exceptionally long time for it to damage the structural integrity of a piece of wood, especially if the issue is within beams or timber in your home’s structure. The biggest issue caused by woodworm is usually cosmetic, but nevertheless, it’s still vital to treat the area as soon as you notice it to prevent the spread and the risk of any serious woodworm problems later down the line.
How is woodworm treated?
If you think you have woodworm in a smaller item of furniture, you can treat it yourself using a chemical treatment from a DIY shop. Many people believe using vinegar can help, but vinegar doesn’t eradicate the issue completely. It’s best to use a professional treatment in order to preserve the wood.
Can every house get woodworm?
There is a common misconception that only older properties are subject to woodworm, but that’s not true. Whilst older houses are more likely to fall victim as they’re more likely to have issues with damp and wood rot, woodworm isn’t an exclusive problem. Although newer houses are built with comprehensive damp proofing which reduces the risk of woodworm, given the right conditions, any home can have an infestation.
Woodworm are more of an annoyance than a serious problem, but knowing how to spot and treat the issue is essential knowledge for any homeowner.