Building Repairs in Langley Municipality, BC

The importance of water has been much considered, and it has necessarily been made the enemy here. Though it is true that earthquakes and the like can cause similar damage, many of the problems brought up here are only being discussed because of the climate in which they occur—particularly wet locales. And once again, our nemesis rears its liquidy, unwelcome cranium: water in unwelcome places also supports insects, occasionally hordes of them. In the course of one repair, a worker wondered why the sky had suddenly released torrential rain on a perfectly clear summer day. Moments later, he realised he has disturbed a massive nest of carpenter ants and the resulting cacophony filled the air with the sound of torrential rain on a tin roof.

Carpenter ants are more likely to be found in buildings near bush and forest areas, their natural, historical habitat. It is important to note that this type of ant, another fan of cellulose, will not move into a sound building. Instead, this ant finds the conditions it needs by smell or dumb luck, preferring the damp wood it would ordinarily discover in its more natural forest habitat where it does the important work of breaking down dead and dying organic matter in a way not dissimilar from fungi—recycling the forest by helping make forest components available to other life forms. This ant, like fungi, requires water to perform the chemical reactions that result in the digestion of the cellulose of which wood is made. Assuming the repair effort has followed the first step mentioned above of diagnosing the cause of damage, the carpenter ant, once removed, will cause no more trouble, because the water source it needs to live will have been removed.

Another commonly encountered insect is the termite. Though there must be thousands of kinds worldwide, the two species of concern in the west coast rain forest climate are the Dampwood and the Subterranean. Like the carpenter ant, the dampwood locates conditions conducive with its lifestyle preferences, which is wood already relatively well advanced in the rot stage, enough so as to emit the odour that attracts the insect initially. In defense of this industrious insect, that the wood is already well rotted means that the insect did not cause the rot, but is merely taking advantage of the conditions it requires to live. That said, both the carpenter ant and the dampwood termite, once ensconced, will certainly increase the speed at which wood decays. As is the case with the carpenter ant, once the water source has been removed by sound diagnosis and repair strategy, the dampwood termite will not cause further problems. Neither are equipped by nature to bring water to the site of destruction, and are, therefore, not able to simply pick up and move to another part of the building or your neighbour’s house to continue in their nefarious exploits.

The same cannot be said of the subterranean termite. This insidious insect variety needn’t locate ideal conditions for itself, wood already well rotted due to proximity to a water source. Easily a third the size of a dampwood, the sub is capable of transporting water to a preferred location. This doesn’t mean in won’t, like the carpenter ant and dampwood termite, take advantage of pre-existing favourable conditions, but it does mean that it needn’t have those conditions to get started in its effort to dismantle cellulose-based materials—it can create them. The sub’s method is to create pathways leading to and back from water sources, transporting water on the return trip. Where they cannot move undetected by predators in their journeys to and fro, they will build tunnels attached to those materials they are unable to burrow through—materials like concrete. This capability of the sub termite can be helpful because, returning to the ongoing need for diligent inspection efforts of buildings, the transport tubes they construct are visible as a close examination will reveal.