Woodworm is a common problem affecting wooden aspects of many homes around the UK. Woodworm are the larvae of wood-boring beetles, and the most common species is the Common Furniture Beetle. Other common beetles include the following:
- Deathwatch beetle.
- House Longhorn Beetle.
The costs of a woodworm infestation can be immense, not only damaging your furniture, but may also affect the timber structure of your house.
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Where does woodworm commonly occur?
Beetles like damp conditions and if exposed timber members have a moisture content of more than 20%, then they will provide the optimum environment for the beetles. The Common Furniture Beetles will lay their eggs on the timber, and when they hatch to form larvae, that’s where the real damage begins. The beetle larvae will burrow beneath the timber surface and eat their way through the wood.
They will pupate and hatch out and bore their way to the outside, leaving holes in the timber. The timber is left severely weakened if the infestation is particularly severe. If they are structural timbers, the integrity of the structure and any load bearing timber may be compromised.
How is woodworm treated?
Since there are three common types of beetles which cause woodworm, there is a different approach to dealing with each one. Some of the beetle problems can be dealt with by taking a DIY approach but other will require professional advice and treatment. Below are the three common beetles and how best to treat them:
- Common Furniture Beetle – this is the most common woodworm causing agent and often does not cause structural damage. The popular way of dealing with the Common Furniture Beetle is to apply at least two coats of a treatment agent containing borno. This is an odourless, vapourless and water-based agent which you spray or brush on the affected wood.
- The House Longhorn Beetle – if you suspect your home has been raided by this pest, you will require professional help to eradicate it and prevent costly damage.
- Deathwatch Beetle – this beetle has the ability to burrow deep into the wood and can cause structural damage. Surface treatment will not do the trick because the beetle is often deep inside the wood. The assistance of a surveyor is essential to determine the extent of the infestation. Treatment will often involve injecting the timber with a boron solution.
Woodworm treatment costs
Now we come to the part you have been dying to read; how much you can expect to part with if your home is affected by woodworm. How much you pay for woodworm treatment will of course depend on the type of treatment you choose. The options are:
- Water-based treatment – you can do this yourself if you know what you’re doing.
- Fogging treatment- involves putting the treatment agent under floorboards and let the fog penetrate the timber from beneath. It’s a less disruptive method, allowing the space to be inhabited within a few hours.
- Fumigation – Fumigants are harmful to health and the property may need to be empty for a few days before it is safe to occupy again.
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As a guide, treating your home with pesticide to eradicate all lifecycle stages of woodworm causing beetles will cost anything between £500 and £1000. This is just a guide price because the overall price you pay will depend on factors such as:
- The treatment method you use.
- The size of your house.
- The extent of infestation and the treatment agent used.
If persistent or seasonal damp is a problem you face, you can opt for leave-in boron rods which will continue protecting the timber for years. These rods cost under £40 for 10 rods, which will turn out very expensive if you have an extensive damp problem.
Boron surface treatment
Boron surface agents include water-based solutions or gels which are applied onto the surface. Surface treatment will work if you have correctly identified the type of beetle. You can expect to pay around £30 per 25 square meters for the treatment. Cheaper DIY fumigation agents commonly use a chemical called Permethrin. This is not recommended unless you take relevant safety precautions and protect fish, pets and children from coming in contact with it.
Cost of specialist woodworm surveys
As a homeowner, would you be comfortable to diagnose and treat a potentially devastating condition such as woodworm? An experienced specialist will identify the beetles causing you problems, as well as come up with a course of treatment. For anything between £90 and £250 a woodworm specialist will do the following:
- Perform a woodworm survey and produce a report.
- Diagnose the particular boring insect affecting your home.
- Inspecting the roof void and basement for signs of beetle infestation.
- Inspect under floorboards and all flooring timber.
Furniture is also affected by woodworm, especially old, antique furniture. Treatment for furniture infestations is often by applying a surface treatment agent. For some treatments, it does not matter whether the surface is polished or not. However, other furniture preservatives will not work on varnished or painted furniture. Coat the surface of the furniture with the treatment agent, and if flight holes are visible, use a special injector to fill the holes with the preservative.
Understanding the type of problem you are dealing with is the key to resolving a woodworm infestation once and for all. Although there are DIY options available on the market, the devastation woodworm may inflict on your property is a cause for concern. Seeking professional help, to not only identify the correct beetle responsible for your issues, but also eradicating it is the recommended way. How you deal with woodworm today may affect the selling price of your home further down the line if you wish to move.
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