Termite Tubes

Termite Tubes on a Foundation Pier

Did you know that subterranean termites create mud tunnels (often called termite tubes) in order to travel from the ground up in to your house? These termites that nest in the ground beneath and around your home have soft bodies that will not survive outside of the soil, the mud tunnels that they build or inside the wood members of your home. The photo above was taken in a crawl space from one of our inspections. This termite tube traveled up the foundation pier inside this crawl space.

Termite Tubes Inside an Exterior Foundation Wall

If you encounter mud tunnels similar to these inside your crawl space or on the exterior of your foundation wall you should contact a pest control specialist as soon as possible. Many homeowners have a termite bond that they purchased from a licensed pest control company or that was transferred to them when they purchased the home. This bond usually covers any repairs from termite damage at no cost to the home owner.

Homeowner Tips

  1. Visually inspect your home’s foundation walls monthly
  2. Contact your termite contractor if you see any signs of termite tubes
  3. If you have a termite bond on your home the repairs should not cost you any money

Note: While the identification of termite tubes goes beyond the Standards of Practice of the home inspection industry it is common practice for a Home Inspector to point out such observations.

Foundation Wall Cracks

Cracks in foundation walls are often indications that the footings are failing. The cause may be that the footings were not poured to the proper depth, the reinforcing steel is missing, undersized or the soil supporting the footing is not stable. When significant cracks are discovered in a foundation wall a structural engineer or specialty contractor should be hired to investigate the cause and determine a solution to the problem. Vertical cracks appearing on the outside of a foundation wall are usually an indication of footing failure issues. The following photo demonstrates a vertical crack in the exterior stucco finish of a concrete block foundation wall system.

Vertical Cracks in Foundation Wall

When cracks appear in the exterior mortar or brick veneer there are likely settling issues with the footing below. The photo below shows cracked brick and mortar that has been pointed up.

Cracks in Brick Veneer
Cracks in Brick Veneer with new Mortar added.

The next photo shows more crack in the brick and mortar at a different location of the same home.

Vertical cracks straight through concrete block foundations are an indication of significant footing failure below grade. The following photo shows a significant foundation failure on an exterior foundation wall system.

Severe Foundation Wall Crack

Checklist of Structural Issues

 Cracks in the foundation wall
 Cracks in the exterior mortar or brick veneer
 Slopes or dips in the floor system
 Moisture damage and/or fungus growth on the subfloor/joists below a tile shower
 Cracked floor joists
 Insect damage to beams or joists in crawl spaces
 Interior piers in the crawl space that are not supporting the floor system
 Extra support added under floor
 Improper floor joist repairs
 Damaged or broken roof truss members
 Loose ridge beam support boards
 Moisture damage to the subflooring underneath toilets
 Large cracks in concrete slabs

Structural Inspection Standards

The inspector should:
• inspect the visible structural components
• inspect the foundation
• inspect the floor structure
• inspect the wall structure
• inspect the ceiling structure
• inspect the roof structure
• describe methods used to inspect unfinished spaces

The inspector is not obligated to:
• provide an engineering or architectural analysis
• offer an opinion of the adequacy of the structure
• enter tight crawl small space openings
• pass through vertical clearances that are tight
• walk across structural members concealed by insulation

Purpose of a Home Inspection

The purpose of a home inspection is to provide home buyer or homeowner with information about the condition of installed systems and components of a home at the time of the inspection. The home inspector should inspect the readily accessible installed systems and components and provide a written report to the client.

The inspection report should include any of the systems defined under the SOP that are not functioning properly, are significantly deficient, are unsafe or are near the end of their life expectancy. The inspector should also recommend corrections or monitoring for future correction for these deficiencies. If the nature of a deficiency is not self-evident the inspector should provide the client with a further explanation using easy to understand terminology.

Home Inspection Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics

Standards of Practice

There are two major home inspection associations that developed their own Standards of Practice (SOP) for their membership to follow. Overall, the scope of both of these standards has very similar content. To review these SOP click on the links below.

American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (interNACHI)

Many states have created their own published SOP or adopted a standard from one of these home inspection associations. South Carolina, for example, adopted the ASHI standards of practice a few years ago.

Code of Ethics

Both of these major home inspection associations have their own code of ethics for the members to follow. The general principles in these ethics’ codes are:

  • to avoid conflicts of interest that negate the inspector’s professional independence and objectivity
  • to act in good faith toward each client and other parties involved in the real estate transaction
  • to avoid any activities that reduce the public confidence home the inspection profession