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Wood Destroying Organism Home Inspection

Pest & Dry Rot Inspection

Inspecting for wood destroying organisms or pest and dry rot may not be a glorious job, but we take it very seriously. Most pests enter homes and then feed on or nest in locations that are not easily identifiable by the everyday public. Locating entry points, nests, and feeding spots requires a thorough examination of the structure, knowledge of what to look for and, most importantly, experience observing these wood destroying insects and the evidence they leave behind.


Carpenter Ants are one of the most common wood destroying insects in the Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon areas.  Depending on the time of year when carpenter ants enter a structure they often are not visible as they are within walls and floors or burrowing inside the structural framing members. When homes are built there is often left over sawdust from the construction process. A professional pest inspector can examine this sawdust and verify if it is carpenter ant frass, or construction debris. I have often found large carpenter ant colonies within a structure without ever seeing a carpenter ant. Carpenter ants do not actually eat the structural framing members but burrow through it to make nests. Generally carpenter ants need to get their food source/nutrition from the outside of the structure.

Moisture Ants are also a wood destroying insect commonly found in the Vancouver and Portland areas. Wood decay issue from excessive moisture in the wood often indicates the presence of moisture ants. Moisture ants generally do not infest sound wood, they infest to aid in the natural process of breaking down moist wood. The extermination of moisture ants would be to remove and replace the moist wood and identify why the wood was wet and decaying.

There are two types of termites commonly found throughout the Pacific Northwest. They are pacific damp wood termites and western subterranean termites. Pacific damp wood termites are the largest termite species found in Washington and Oregon. Pacific Damp wood termites generally require wet or damp wood to infest and establish a colony. Damp wood termites are not easily observed, they hide themselves well. Like Moisture ants, their presence reveals another issue: a moisture problem in the structure. 

On the other hand, Western subterranean termites don’t need moist wood to infest and start a colony. Instead, they bring their own moisture with them from the ground by building shelter tubes that keep them from being exposed to the elements. Western subterranean termites have been known to do more damage to structures in the United States than fires. No wooden structure is completely safe from infestation.

Wood destroying beetles such as lyctid beetles, anobiid beetles, bostrichids also known as true powder post beetles, deathwatch beetles and false powder post beetles all have been found in Oregon and Washington. The identification of beetle infestation requires a keen eye and an experienced inspector who knows what he/she is looking for. The actual beetles themselves are very rarely ever seen, however they cause major structural damage that is often not detected by just visual inspection. Beetle larvae are so small that they are never seen when they enter the wood to begin their life eating away within the wooden structural framing members. Their presence is generally observed after they have grown into adults and exited the wood in the form of pin sized holes, or by sounding the wood.

Wood rot, decay and fungus can take on many forms. All are an indication of other issues like moisture intrusion or inadequate ventilation. When wood decay, rot, or fungus is found, the material should be removed and replaced with structurally sound materials. Also, the source of moisture must be identified and eliminated to prevent reoccurrence of wood rot and infestation by wood destroying insects.

Structural members need to be “sounded.” You should be able to hear your inspector “sounding” the structure from below. If you don’t hear your inspector making noises when they are in the crawlspace you have to wonder if they are doing everything possible to identify wood destroying organisms.

For more information regarding wood destroying organisms or Pest and Dry rot issues please contact me, James Fronsdahl, your professional inspector.

We also perform Lender required Pest and Dry rot Inspections, Complete WDO Inspections, and NPMA-33 Pest Reports.

Please call or e-mail for more information.