Difficult termite problems and difficult bath traps

Termite tunnel in corner coming up the bath trap

There is on area that should at least be looked at if not treated with every subterranean termite job, the bath trap. This is a vulnerable spot in almost every home. In the the northern states access doors to the plumbing areas are very common. They are usually quite large and framed in as part of the construction. These same plumbing areas in the southern states are almost always dry-walled over and the access or ‘bath trap’ needs to be cut in. Insects of all kinds follow plumbing lines but termites are especially keen at searching out this area and will exploit it to the fullest.

We normally think of a termite invasion on the foundation walls but the bath traps give them the opportunity to surface well into the middle of any home that has not been treated and wreak havoc. In an earlier article I explained how to cut in a simple bath trap in a standard situation. Please feel free to follow the link for details on this simple trap and the ‘why’ a trap is necessary in the first place.

Difficult bath traps are becoming more common with fancier homes and more complex bathrooms. Garden tubs, space saving building

Trap that had to be cut from adjacent wall

techniques, tiled walls, and built in cabinetry often block a clean way to cut in your trap. In some cases you just can’t install a trap and at that point you need to make a decision. Using a product like Termidor can make up for a lot of short comings so do you trust your foundation barrier to work its magic even on the termites that may be infesting the plumbing area? Do you drill into the slab where pipes lie waiting to shoot out like a geyser once punctured? You could try and drill a small hole through the tile or cabinet and foam the area which in my opinion is better than nothing, or if the bathroom is on an exterior wall there’s always the long rod technique. You may need to use some imagination but even in this era of less drilling the bath trap is just to much of a risk too let go untreated.

Drilling through built in cabinet to gain access

The most important tool regardless of how you decide to proceed will be your measuring tape. Getting to the right spot the first time saves time but also reduces any undue marring of a wall your customer will see every day. Determine just where the bathtub plumbing goes through the slab ( that’s usually the drain ) and then pick a common spot that you can measure from on the other side of the wall. I measure from the inside edge of the exterior wall whenever possible but you could go from the door as long as the adjacent wall connects directly to the wall you’ll be cutting. ie; the door leads to the hall which leads to the living room and that wall runs parallel with the wall the tub sits up against. You may find that you’ll be cutting your trap in some unlikely spots and again, accuracy will be key to just needing one cut and one vent. Back to back bathrooms can be tricky and you’ll most likely need two cuts. If you can keep them close enough you can use one vent to cover them both.

Always remember you are cutting and drilling into an area with soft pipes and you need to go lightly. Don’t ram that drill bit in or push the

Double bath trap one with stud blocking some access

knife through all at once. Do just a little at a time and slowly get through your surface. The best scenario would be to remove enough drywall to be able to peer inside this void. It may be that the pipes have been sealed with cement and you don’t need to treat at all. For tiled walls and using only a drill bit this won’t usually be available but still worth the effort. Studs can also block your access so make sure to knock on the wall a bit and see if you get a hollow sound so you know you’re clear. The days of whole house drilling are fading fast but I don’t envision the day where bath traps are something that any termite tech should ignore.

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. Pestcemetery.com 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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  • That’s why every job or work needed needs to be done by a professional plumber or termite pest control for more satisfaction.

  • I’ve seen some pretty handy homeowners try it and do alright but without a full knowledge of the goal (or what you’re trying to accomplish) somethings always lacking. Plus once the hole is cut right or wrong they still lack the tools and expertise to treat the void. –I have seen more bath traps ‘gone bad’ with DIY so I definitely agree with you.

    Great input, Thanks

    The Bug Doctor