Woodworm

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Woodworm

In the right circumstances, the timber in your home can be at risk of infestation by wood-boring insects or ‘woodworm’ as they are commonly referred to.  The most common kind of woodworm to affect properties today is the Common Furniture Beetle, or CFB (Anobium punctatum); the CFB likes to infest and feed on a range of timbers including those used in furniture or those which provide structural support for buildings.

CFB prefer to infest damp or moist timbers and so thrive most in internal timbers which have become damp.  This can happen in a number of ways, including:

  1. When the timber comes into direct contact with rising or penetrating damp;
  2. When the timber becomes damp as a result of a leak; and
  3. When timber is exposed to persistent high humidity, which it then absorbs.

Woodworm affecting a floor in Leeds

Woodworm affecting joists in Leeds, Yorkshire

Woodworm Barnsley

Woodworm in a floor in Barnsley, Yorkshire

What are Woodworm?

CFB can be identified by small round flight holes on the surface of timber; the gathering of wood dust nearby indicates recent burrowing and an active problem.  The beetle has a 3-4 year lifespan and, during this time it inhabits, feeds on and breeds in the infested timber.  One female beetle can lay up to 30 eggs in each breeding cycle, meaning that an infestation problem can escalate quickly.  With an increase in the number of beetles, comes an increase in the amount of the timber that is consumed by feeding and burrowing.  With sufficient time, CFB can consume enough of the timber to render it incredibly weak and brittle.  Where furniture is affected, it is slowly destroyed, but when structural timbers such as those in floors and walls are affected, this can result in the collapse of all or part of a property.

When addressing a Woodworm problem, the source of the damp which has affected the timber and sustained the infestation must first be identified and resolved. The following is a list of sources of damp which can lead to Woodworm infestation:

Roof defects

The integrity of the roof should be inspected to check for any defects which might cause water to leak into the building, such as blocked guttering, defective surfacing to valley gutters, missing or broken tiles and faulty flashing around chimneys.

Wall defects

The condition of external walls is perhaps the most obvious factor to check when determining whether damp will affect a property. A properly constructed and maintained wall will repel water and allow a degree of ventilation to prevent humidity building inside the property or beneath floors. Factors which can inhibit a wall’s efficacy at doing this include the deterioration of mortar in brickwork joints, a faulty or missing damp proof course, the bridging of the damp proof course, blocked or missing air bricks, cracked or broken internal pipework, faulty window flashing, continuous overflow from cisterns or water tanks.

Internal defects

A range of internal conditions can cause the source of the dampness which leads to a Woodworm infestation. A solid floor without an effective damp proof membrane will allow water to rise through it and into any adjacent timbers such as skirting boards, condensation/ water vapour which comes into contact with timber, the trapping of flood water beneath a timber floor, leaking internal pipes or toilets and linoleum tightly fitted over non-ventilated or poorly-ventilated timber floors will trap water vapour and dampen the timber.

Types of Woodworm

Common Furniture Beetle close camera shot

Common Furniture Beetle (CFB)

A Weevil Timber Beetle

Weevil

A Deathwatch Beetle on Timber

Deathwatch Beetle

Contact us

Speak to a member of the team now on 0330 111 3377 or press the button below to book your survey

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Our accreditations

Below, you’ll find the logos of the organisations with which we are accredited.  Click on them to find out more information.

The logo of the Property Care Association PCA

We're certified by TrustATrader.com for damp proofing and timber preservation services

The logo of CHAS

The logo of Constructionline, a UK Giovernment Certification Scheme

Trustmark logo, a UK Government Scheme

TREATING WOODWORM

Woodworm Treatment

In any case where Woodworm is discovered, the badly infested timber which is beyond repair should be removed and disposed of as a first action. The use of an insecticidal solution is necessary to prevent the spreading of the Woodworm by the disturbance of the affected timber. Any timber which is not removed should be treated with a suitable insecticide. Any timber used for replacements should be pre-treated against infestation.

The above assumes that the cause of the damp which led to the Woodworm outbreak has been cured. For more information on our damp proofing services, visit our damp proofing page.

Woodworm- When to act

Woodworm is a progressive and aggressive maintenance issue. Untreated, it can cause significant and widespread damage to any home which is why it’s essential to act fast whenever you suspect a problem. Telltale signs of Woodworm include:

  • The appearance of small holes in timber;
  • Small deposits of dust or ‘frass‘ caused by insect boring;
  • Discovery of active or deceased insects; or
  • Movement or unusual creaking in a timber floor.

FAQs

“How can I tell whether I have Woodworm?”

ANSWER: We have listed some of the common signs of Woodworm above on this page, but you should always seek an expert opinion due to danger that Woodworm can pose to you and anyone living in the property.

“Are Woodworm dangerous?”

ANSWER: Woodworm are not directly dangerous to our health, but the damage that they cause to timber makes them a considerable risk to have in your home. The collapse of floors and ceilings affected by Woodworm is not uncommon.

“Does timber affected by Woodworm always need to be replaced?”

ANSWER: No, not always, but it depends on the extent of the infestation and how long the timber has been affected. As time passes, more and more of the timber is consumed by the Woodworm, making it weaker; if the timber has become too weak to bear weight, it should be replaced. Our surveyors assess the extent of any Woodworm infestation and try to keep the replacements to a minimum to save on cost. If timber does not need to be replaced, our staff will treat it with a specialist insecticide instead.