In the NW, the Home Inspector, assuming they are a Licensed Structural Pest Inspector, had best be on the lookout for ants wandering around the exterior of the building–especially Carpenter Ants. On a recent inspection of a building with EIFS siding (Synthetic Stucco), I noticed Carpenter Ants trailing along the sidewalk. While I could discuss the errors in the EIFS installation, and the fact that the drip screed is not visible at the bottom, this post while possibly related to this omission is about Carpenter Ants. Following the trail I found where they were coming and going from the building at a hole under some door trim. Note the Carpenter Ant at the center of the picture.
This is almost never going to be a good thing and I made a mental note to make sure I checked this area closely both at the interior of the building and in the crawl space. Nothing was apparent at the interior, but when I got to the area in the crawl space that was under this door this is what I found.
Piles of Carpenter Ant Frass–almost entirely made up of foam insulation from the EIFS siding.
This is a really good example of how these ants don’t eat the wood–they merely mine it to create places to store their eggs and have ant parties. If you look closely at this “frass” you can see a dead Carpenter Ant, some wood “sawdust,” little beads of foam and–of course–cobwebs. Carpenter Ants are very opportunistic and will tunnel in wood or foam. Foam is really easy to mine–so why wouldn’ they?
If you are having a property inspected in the NW–make sure that the inspector is a Licensed Structural Pest Inspector–otherwise, they might not even know that the ants they didn’t even notice were Carpenter Ants and that even if they had noticed them they would not be allowed (by state law) to say what they were. You might then be looking at either another inspection–or risk finding out later about them–after much more damage had been done.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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