If thoroughly inspected it is likely the majority of older properties will be found to have some evidence of ‘woodworm’ but is it serious and does it need treating? There are many species of ‘woodworm’ but the most common found in the UK, often found in flooring timbers, roof timbers and furniture, is the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum). Identifying an infestation of woodworm isn’t too difficult, there will be holes in the wood slightly smaller than a match head, but determining if the infestation is active or not can be. The holes are ‘exit’ holes where the adult beetle has bored out to fly and mate. A sure sign that it’s active is the holes look fresh and clean like a freshly drilled hole. There could also be some clean wood dust (Frass) around the hole which probably mean the infestation is active and needs treating.
Many of our woodworm surveys are in occupied properties so obviously it isn’t possible to inspect all the timber because of floor coverings and furniture etc. This will often mean our timber surveyor can only lift floor covering or floorboards in corners so our survey is very limited. However the roof frame and undersides of staircases timbers in the majority of properties are often accessible and should give some indication if woodworm is present.
If woodworm is found our surveyor will assess whether it is active or not by probing the wood with a bradle. If the holes don’t look fresh this doesn’t necessarily mean that the infestation isn’t active elsewhere like sub-floors where most of the timber is. It is our policy that if there is no record of preservation treatment having previously been carried out, by a reputable company, or there are no current guarantees, they should be retreated. Woodworm treatment by Tapco HomeDry is not a difficult process and is carried out using only the very safest preservatives. This is not usually expensive but replacing heavily infested timbers can be.
If you live in Surrey, parts of SW London or the Home Counties you may be aware of the far more serious species of ‘woodworm’ the House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupus bajulus) which is usually found affecting roof timbers. The actual woodworm (grub) can grow up to 22m/m long and be as thick as a pencil, often causing severe structural damage to ‘softwood’ roofing timbers as it bores up and down the grain eating its own weight of timber every day. When the adult beetle makes it’s exit it leaves a hole about the size of your small finger nail with a pile of rough grain dust (frass). Unfortunately often when it is found, severe structural damage has already occurred and replacement of timber is required, which can be very costly. Treatment of this infestation is far more distructive than that of the Common Furniture Beetle and in our opinion precautionary treatment of all roof timbers in Surrey, SW London and the Home Counties should be a priority, irrespective of whether it is infested or not. Prevention is far better than cure!