Squeaky floors are usually nothing to worry about, as they tend to be caused by minor issues.
Some squeaking is often inevitable for hardwood due to seasonal changes in temperature and moisture.
However, many homeowners worry that squeaky floors may also be a sign of termites.
While squeaky floors are usually not a sign of anything serious, they can be an indicator that your home has a termite infestation. If the squeaking is excessive, the wood also sounds hollow, or the floor joists have sunk, you probably have termites.
Keep reading to learn more about how squeaky floors may be linked to a termite infestation, as well as other signs to watch out for and how to get rid of termites if you do have them.
How to Tell if Squeaky Floors Are a Sign of Termites
You do not have to be a certified exterminator to tell if your squeaky floor is being caused by a horde of termites.
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Look for the following signs to determine if your squeaky floor is linked to a termite infestation:
Termite damage weakens the flooring, floor support, and subflooring.
Weakened and damaged floors tend to squeak quite a bit, as they are extra sensitive to increased weight and movement.
When you step in these areas, the flooring rubs against nails or together to produce loud squeaking sounds.
Squeaks and Hollow Sounds
If the floorboards squeaking is accompanied by hollow noises, there is a good chance that your home has termites.
Termites make cavities in the wood whenever they eat into it, so the floor will sound hollow when someone taps on it.
If you catch the damage while it is minor, these cavities can be sealed with wood filler, but extensive damage calls for floorboard replacement.
Collapsed Floor and Floor Joists
If an area of flooring is not only squeaking, but the furniture or objects placed on the floor has caused the floor to collapse, this is a sign of extensive termite damage.
If the floor joists have collapsed, there is nothing acting as support for the flooring.
Usually, if termites have managed to eat away at the floor joists, these beams will need to be replaced.
Other Household Signs of Termites
Termites can leave traces in other parts of your home, even in floors that are not made of hardwood.
The following things are other signs that you may have termites in your home:
Laminate floors are not safe from termites.
Sometimes, termites will even chew holes through laminate flooring.
More often than not, however, termite damage beneath a laminate floor tends to make the floor sag or appear blistered, much like the signs of water damage.
Laminate floors are harder to salvage than hardwood floors, and laminate that has been affected by termites generally needs to be completely removed and replaced.
Loose Floor Tiles
In areas where the floor is tiled, termite damage usually focuses on the joists, as joists are always wooden support beams.
While damaged floor joists under hardwood make the floor collapse, tiles above damaged floor joists become loose.
Termites can also introduce extra moisture beneath the tiles, which degrades the adhesive and knocks tiles loose.
Aside from strange changes in your flooring, a termite infestation can noticeably alter your drywall.
Termite damage in drywall is very similar to the damage they do to laminate floors. You may realize that your drywall looks like it is sagging, changing color, or be full of small holes.
How to Get Rid of Termites
By the time you realize that your home has a termite infestation, it is usually too large for you to easily remove by yourself.
While it is usually best to hire an expert for this job, here are all of the basic options for getting rid of termites.
Identify the Species
There are two main species of termites, Drywood and Subterranean termites.
Not all termite products will work equally on both species—some are more efficient for one than the other.
Subterranean termites are typically easier to eliminate, but Drywood termites may require extensive removal procedures that you cannot do on your own.
Treat with Chemicals
Poisonous barriers are sometimes enough to get rid of a Subterranean termite infestation, as they tend to live in the soil around your home.
Drywood termites live in wood, and treating to remove them often entails drilling many holes in your walls, filling them with boric acid, and sealing the holes.
If that fails, professionals may have to come in and do more elaborate treatments.
Call an Exterminator
When all else fails, call an exterminator to deal with your termite problem.
Again, termites can cause extensive damage to your home before you ever realize they are present.
Exterminators are able to do thorough procedures like fumigation to remove termites.
Although a squeaky floor is usually nothing to worry about, they can be a sign that your home has termites.
Be sure to check a squeaky hardwood floor by tapping it to see if the floor also sounds hollow, as this is the biggest indicator that the squeaking is being caused by termites and not another source like changing temperatures.
Termites can also affect other types of flooring, and the damage they cause makes laminate floors sag and pries tiles loose.
Try to catch a termite infestation early by looking for these signs.