It’s a phrase that’s been repeated thousands of times throughout my career. “You won’t find any termites in my home! My house is made out of bricks!”
I hear this most often from over confident homeowners who are selling their homes. They greet me at the door with a look that’s a cross between ‘You’re wasting my time -to- Ha! Go ahead and try, you won’t find any termites here.” Of course I’ve seen that look change so many times from confidence to disbelief and finally shock when they hear what the cost will be to treat this, their impenetrable home.
Do Termites Chew Through Bricks?
I’m not sure if this is how the legend of termites eating through bricks or concrete came about but let me put this to rest for you. Mostly this notion is attributed to formosan termites which are often referred to as ‘super termites.’ Even with this moniker there is NO termite that can eat or chew through bricks & concrete. Their mandibles just aren’t powerful enough. Having said that however, concrete is made up of small bits of sand and the like which is what termites move for a living. If perhaps the cement were damaged, loose or crushed up in some way then it wouldn’t be a problem for them to move the small loose particles. But once they hit the solid intact area, they would need to find another way around.
So How Do They Get Through?
Termites only need a crack or gap about the thickness of a business card and they have no problem fitting through the opening. In brick homes there can be many such places. It could be the joints where the bricks come together, a crack or up through the expansion joint where the cement floor meets the wall. In fact, this and where the plumbing comes up through the floor is the most classic spots in any home.
What Can They Eat If They Do Get Through?
Brick houses actually have quite a bit of wood in them. Baseboards, furring strips behind the drywall, interior stud walls and not to mention the attic. This video shows a classic brick home and the extensive termite attack it was under. I’ll bet the owner at one time said,