How to Treat Woodworm in Your Loft

Spotting the Signs of Infestation and Dealing with It

There is plenty of misinformation about woodworm. Here, we get to the truth on what they are and how to get rid of them for good.

Woodworm is a problem that affects thousands or even millions of homes across the UK. Nobody can be sure how many, because the number of known infestations is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg.

So how can you find out if you have an infestation, and should you try to do something about it yourself or is it better to call in a professional woodworm survey company? Here, we provide the run down on everything you need to know.

Do you have a problem?

The obvious sign of woodworm is when you see those tiny pinprick-type holes. Get into the loft with a good light and examine all the joists and timbers – if there is exposed insulation up there, long sleeves and gloves are the order of the day, and a dust mask is also a sensible precaution.

There is a common misconception that the sight of holes means the woodworm have gone. This doesn’t really stack up logically – are they supposed to have emigrated to Spain, or packed up and moved next door? The woodworm responsible for those particular holes might have died off, but they will have left larvae behind, and it’s more than likely that subsequent generations are continuing the good work.

The most obvious sign of active woodworm is droppings. These will be around the entrance to the holes and are easily mistaken for sawdust – you’ll be glad you put those gloves on!

Calling in the professionals

As is the case with so many things around the house, from changing a boiler to building an extension, you can deal with a woodworm infestation yourself if you know what you are doing. But if you don’t, it is a wise idea to call in the professionals. Working with insecticides in a confined and uncomfortable environment like a loft is not the most pleasant job for a Sunday afternoon. And the point is that it needs to be done properly and completely, or there’s no point starting.

What if you just leave them?

There’s a school of thought that woodworm only affects the outer layers of wood and that the larvae have such a short life span that you can just ignore the problem. This has the same flaws of logic as the “they must have gone” argument mentioned earlier. Left untreated, a woodworm infestation will only escalate, and they will literally eat your house and everything wooden inside it if they are given the chance.

The sooner you identify the problem, the faster you can do something about it and they less will be the damage, so it is really not a good idea to ignore woodworm and hope it will go away.

Preventing recurrence

When you’ve had your wood treated, you will want to do everything you can to prevent the woodworm from coming back. While it is a fallacy to say that woodworm infestations are caused by damp, it is certainly the case that they thrive better in damp conditions. A moisture meter is a good investment anyway – anything above 18 percent suggests there is a damp problem that needs addressing, regardless of woodworm.

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