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Is Spray Foam Insulation Bad For Termite Control?

Initially developed by the military and used for aircrafts, spray foam usage in homes started in the 1970s and picked up in the 1980s. As such, homes built during this period often use the material, but homeowners are typically unaware of its existence – until a termite infestation develops. So, as a homeowner, you are naturally thinking spray foam helps keep your home warm. However, no matter if it’s polyurethane or cellulose-based, spray foam yields a serious downside when your home is dealing with a termite infestation.

For example, in terms of home construction, spray foam insulation is directly applied to horizontal and vertical surfaces as it expands while filling in small gaps and crevices. In turn, it acts as an effective air barrier that generally doesn’t attract insects and rodents. Additionally, long-term, spray foam insulation also cuts down on energy costs and lowers utility expenses. As a result, many homeowners rely on spray foam for warmth, but fail to realize how it reacts with a possible termite infestation.

By nature, spray foam’s dense, spongy composition should act as a deterrent to termites and act as some sort of termite protection. In particular, if it’s made of polyurethane or another synthetic material it should offer some protection. Yet, while the foam itself won’t attract termites, it doesn’t block them either. Instead, pest control professionals find these pests chewing or tunneling through, nesting inside and forming colonies inside spray foam.

Spray Foam Obscures a Termite Infestation

Although you can spot termites eating through beams and supports, insulation may cover up their presence. Even back when rigid cellulose insulation lined a home’s perimeter, termites would still eat through it or continue consuming any structural supports behind the foam. As such, unless the tubes and tunnels went from one side to the other, the material essentially shielded the destruction – until it was too late.

This issue isn’t exclusive to older insulation methods. During construction, spray foam is applied at least 3/4 of an inch thick. As termites can burrow holes just 1/16 in diameter, their presence goes undetected. In either case, the termite infestation progresses from your foundation and basement to other, more visible parts of your home.

Spray Foam Creates a Pathway

The termites progress through a home’s structural timbers, often out of sight during a casual inspection. However, just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. As a result, the foam often forms a direct pathway to window sills, frames and doors. Beyond these factors, cellulose composes several common aspects of your home, including drywall and paper. Consequently, the termite infestation may spread up the interior, to the attic or through your walls.

In spite of this risk, spray foam continues to be an efficient insulation method. As you update your home for winter, consider consulting a pest control professional to rule out any potential risks. If you suspect termites are tunneling through your spray insulation, reach out to Eliminate ‘Em’s termite control professionals for a full assessment. To learn about our services or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.