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