Unfortunately, EIFS water intrusion and retention isn’t the only thing we have to worry about…we also have to address termites.
Termites… I don’t know about you, but I usually address them as “those damn termites”.
Their mission…turn your house into sawdust. It’s nothing personal, they just like to eat wood and your house is full of it. Your mission…make another location more attractive to the little mulch-makers. Again, nothing personal but you probably like the wood that keeps your house standing instead of collapsing into the basement.
EIFS is abundant In the Southeast US, and so are termites. “Can’t we all just get along?”, you ask. Sure, as long as the termites stay in the ground.
So what’s the problem?
EIFS looks kind of funny when it stops above the grade, exposing the foundation. So in the past most builders let it continue down below the soil line. On top of that, many local building codes required builders to insulate concrete foundations. Foam insulation seemed to be the way to go, especially since it was part of the EIFS system anyway. It seems like a natural thing to do, but that’s where the termites come in, literally.
Termites like the EIFS system foam. They don’t like to eat it. They like to move through it. It gives them cover and freedom of movement so they can get to the “wood buffet” without being harassed by those pesky termite eliminator types. Because they need a continual source of water and they aren’t fond of sunshine, termites build protective tunnels from the ground to their target so that they can move back and forth. Being able to spot these tunnels is the main way that pest control technicians detect the presence of the little critters. It’s a popular myth that pest control guys and home inspectors have X-Ray vision. But think about it, if the termites are behind the face of the foam they can’t be seen and are free to destroy your home at will.
What to do?
If your home has EIFS or foundation insulation that extends below grade, cut at least a 2″ wide channel through the system that exposes the foundation. It’s not hard to do. Don’t cut above the top of the foundation. Also, don’t think that your problems are now solved if you have an EIFS house. There are numerous reports of termites being supported by water that leaks into EIFS houses. With a source of water right in the walls, there is no need for them to return to the ground. And if they arrived at the wall as a flying swarm, there will be no tunnels to detect. You must have the EIFS properly inspected and eliminate all water intrusion.
Get a termite bond for your home.
Do not buy a “Retreatment Bond”. This only provides that the company retreat your home if termites are found during their inspection. Since the company isn’t on the hook for damages and only has to retreat the soil, the chance of you getting a decent inspection are about nil. A termite inspection should take about an hour. My first hand experience from watching dozens of them is an average time of about 10 minutes.
Pay the extra fee and buy a “Damage Repair” bond. As always, read the contract, especially the exclusions very carefully. I think you’ll find that you’ll also get a more detailed inspection with this type of bond. After all, the company will be responsible for damage caused by termites that they don’t identify.