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ezchdahal 11-18-2008 05:16 PM

Subfloor Termite Damage Repair

I own a fairly typical single story track house in the SF Bay Area. It was built in the 50's and is about 1200 sq ft. The floors have always squeaked but over the last couple years it has gotten worse. I had a termite guy come in and wouldn't you know it...=) Apparently the subterranean termites are having a field day. He said spraying all contact points with the ground (as opposed to tenting) would fix the termites. The damage is another matter.

The crawl space under the house is difficult to navigate (I've been under there a fair amount of time). It's the typical 2 1/2 - 3ft vertical space with assorted construction debris and one small access opening in the closet floor of the master bedroom. The floor is oak hardwood with a tongue and groove lath (sp?) subfloor. Underneath that in the crawl space, there is fiberglass insulation between the joyces with plastic netting holding it all up (which acts like an incredibly annoying spider web that snags tools when you are trying to crawl around down there).

My questions are (assuming there is a fair amount of termite damage to the lath subfloor) what is the best way to proceed to fix the termite damage? If I have to rip up all the floors then I may just live with it and credit some future buyer with some money to fix the problem. If the damage is at a medium level where some boards need to be replaced but most are okay then...

- Do I have the termite people come in and spray before I start repairs?

- Do I take all the insulation out/do repairs first THEN spray? I don't really relish working down there AFTER the chemicals have been applied.

- What do I do with the fiberglass insulation? Drag it all out from under the house, through the master bedroom and out (only to put it all back in again)? Does the insulation need to be replaced with something else after I do all this?

- Is it even possible/worthwhile to fix subfloor termite damage without ripping up all the nice 1950's hardwood?

- Who do I call to do all this work? I'm thinking it is more than this part-time DIY guy can tackle with another full-time job and a family living in the house.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have...


glennjanie 11-18-2008 10:54 PM

Welcome John:
WOW! You certainly have a big problem on your hands there. I would want to know the extent of the damage; whether it is all affected or just a few small places. For a few small places, I would have the termite spray done and let her ride for a while. No, it is not possible to repair the subfloor without destroying the hardwood.
If you get into any serious repairs I would want an outside access door to begin with. Then you need to see the damage and see if you want to get that serious. I know that some termite people like to enlarge on the actual damage.
I would vote for saving it for the next owner and give the credit for the repairs (within reason).

ezchdahal 11-19-2008 11:34 AM


After dumping all the issues and questions I had out in the forum here, I've come to the same conclusion. Have the termite people take out the beasties and then live with the squeaky, occasionally mushy floors.

Ripping out all the hardwood is way more than I want to tackle. That's the kind of job you need an empty house for.

handyguys 11-25-2008 09:20 AM

Yea, its a big job. A few things to consider.

The damage is not just contained to the subfloor. Some of the joists are likely damaged as well. You may also have damage inside of walls. Oh, do you have an upright piano sitting on the wood floor? Could be in there too. Ask me how I know!

I would first want a full assessment of the damage before going any further. Anything that shows up on a report will likely only be part of the actual damage. It seems as though, one you start demolition, that you find them in more and more places.

As for the insulation. You could forgo insulating the floor and instead insulate the walls of the crawl space. Essentially you would be creating a conditioned space in the crawl space.

Also - I like the idea of constructing an outside entrance. Great idea.

If you are going to sit tight and do nothing. Treat the termites for sure. Also, and this may be a bit controversial, don't investigate too deeply. You will likely have to disclose any damage you know about when you sell. Right now all you definitely know is you have subfloor damage. if you have a full inspection you may then have to disclose the findings which may paint a worse picture. Me, I would want to know as much as possible, disclosure or not. Who know. You may be stuck living there for a long time.

Good luck

Bru 06-27-2009 02:12 PM

I'm a newbie in this forum, so hope I'm not already violating the protocols, but I sure suggest that you think carefully about the advice to not investigate too much, in case you want to sell the house later. It may fit with current ethical standards in some areas of endeavor, but when the prospective buyer gets his own inspector in, you'll look like just what you will be at that point. I'm getting a reminder of this right now, helping my daughter with the process of buying her first house, and seeing what her inspector found compared with what was disclosed by the seller. Several potential deal-breakers which might not have blown it if frankly disclosed at the get-go.

handyguys 06-29-2009 12:02 PM

hey Bru - Good comments. I wasnt suggesting that I hide anything from anyone. I was just not advocating "opening a can of worms", to use an expression, when you don't have to. If you cant afford to repair the damage properly right at the moment but the termites are gone, whats the point of doing a destructive assessment/evaluation of the damage? Thats all I'm saying. And yes, disclose what you need to disclose.

Buyers - inspect everything you can inspect - realize that the seller may not be required to disclose most things.

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