An open letter to under qualified WDO/WDI Inspectors

September 14, 2010
Under qualified termite Inspectors
Mega Termite Sales Inc.
4321 First Street
Anytown, State 54321

Dear Mega Termite Sales Inspectors,

It has come to our attention that many wood destroying organism/insect reports have been issued in error as well as 2nd opinion inspections conflicting on the subject of wood rot/ wood decaying fungi. As of this correspondence we our unaware of any state requiring the listing of water damage on the state mandated reports. While wood decaying fungi is considered in the same class as other organisms that eat or destroy wood, water and it’s associated damage is not.

Wood decaying fungi commonly and perhaps erroneously known as wood rot is a LIVING organism and as such grows and feeds on cellulose material, primarily wood. Visible ‘blooms’ or ‘mycelium’ are the key characteristics which are visible and the inspectors main clue of the presence of wood decaying fungi. Certain fungi manifests itself in ‘cubed’ damage which goes across the grain known as Cubical Brown Rot while other fungi is identified by the wood turning whitish. Wood decaying fungi is not limited to these two but they are the most common that inspectors will find. It is the inspectors responsibility to know the correct symptoms and visible keys to correctly ID wood destroying organisms.

Water damage can be destructive to wood found in homes but is not a living organism as defined by standard pest control. Damage is usually characterized by shrunken wood or visible damage that goes with the grain. Wood that repeatedly gets wet and then dries as from leaky roofs or plumbing can be severely weakened but without the presence of the key elements listed above it cannot be determined as wood decaying fungi with a visual inspection. Also of note, ‘Dry Rot’ also commonly listed on inspection reports is simply damaged wood that has dried and is in and of itself not a determining factor of previous fungi and does not fall into the wood destroying organism definition unless the keys listed above are present that show previous activity.

The danger in listing water damage as wood decaying fungi is that it could result in unnecessary litigation but more importantly reflect negatively on the professionalism of WDO/WDI Inspectors everywhere. Of course fungi needs water in order to live and grow and often times it is a fine line between water damage and wood decaying fungi. It is however a determination that needs to be made correctly as with any insect or condition we are charged with identifying for the purposes of real estate transactions. Just because your screwdriver can be driven into water damaged wood it does not automatically mean you have a wood decaying fungus present.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and should you need any additional help in properly identifying wood destroying organisms, please feel free to avail yourself and your inspectors to this instructional video on wood decaying fungi.

Sincerely yours,

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Mel

    Does your state require you to list conducive conditions such as inadequate ventilation, standing waters, wood soil contact, in crawls floor joists less than 24 inches ground clearance and so on for WDo’s? As you know while they might not have an actual infestation the potential is there and so it MIGHT happen. Why give your money away to opportunistic lawyers if you can document your findings. A while back I read about two types of inspectors. Those who report what the real estate agent who referred them and those who represent the home buyer’s best interest. It touched on these subjects. I like picking you brain. haha

  • No formal form for conducive conditions and the realtors hate it when you put it in the comment section. Of course they won’t know your name if trouble arises. I had trouble with a video for the end of this article but finally wrestled it to work. It’ll be live tomorrow, come back and check it out.