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An important part of being a homeowner is understanding and addressing the existing threats to your home’s infrastructure. While you may be familiar with some of the most common home-related expenses, such as HVAC repair, a termite infestation is another potentially expensive issue.

In fact, termites account for extensive property damage in many states. Over the entire U.S., the only events that cause more property damage than termites are tropical cyclones and hurricanes. Understanding the true amount of potential damage termites can cause is an important starting point; the next step is contacting a termite exterminator who can tell you the best time to treat for termites.

An overview of termite types

There are several different types of termites: dampwood, drywood, and subterranean. While drywood and dampwood termites can infest homes in certain climates, subterranean termites are the most common and are responsible for the vast majority (90%) of property damage in the U.S.

There are several different subspecies of subterranean termites, including desert, eastern, arid-land, and Formosan. An average Formosan colony can house over 15 million termites, and this invasive subspecies accounts for about 20% of all the money Americans spend on repairing termite-related property damage.

The financial cost of termite damage

Termites can be considered a natural disaster for homeowners in the U.S. They can cause a significant amount of destruction that is on par with damage caused by severe weather events. In fact, the combined total amount of property damage from earthquakes, thunderstorms, floods, and winter storms is less than the amount of property damage attributed to termites. Every year, termites cause property damage costing $30 billion.

The destruction caused by termites may cost some homeowners more than damage from natural disasters because many home insurance policies don’t cover termite infestations. Over 600,000 homes sustain termite damage every year, and homeowners may end up spending thousands of dollars in treatment and repair costs. The average out-of-pocket cost of dealing with a termite infestation is $3,000.

The regions most affected by termites

Termites can infest homes throughout the United States, but some areas are more prone to these pests than others. Texas, Florida, Alabama, and other southern states have high numbers of reported termite infestations. Termites are also quite common in California.

Ways to protect your home

Even if you don’t live in some of the cities or states most known for termites, your home can still be at risk for an infestation. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help protect your house. It’s essential to routinely check for signs of termites. This includes inspecting the beams in the attic and your home’s foundation for signs of the mud tubes or tunnels that termites create.

You can also discourage termites from making their home in yours by eliminating favorable conditions. Make sure the area around your foundation stays dry. Don’t store extra wood, especially wet lumber, near your home for extended lengths of time. If you see any signs that could indicate the presence of termites, be sure to call a professional right away to get an inspection. Early recognition is a key to quickly and effectively getting rid of a termite infestation.