Weekend Projects

One Wise Thing You Can Do for Your Home This Labor Day Weekend

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

It will never be not true that solving a problem when it’s small is much easier — and, when it comes to home maintenance, drastically more cost effective — than solving a problem that’s grown.

While we’re outside grilling or sipping on something relaxing this Labor Day weekend, we’re going to take a little stroll around the perimeter and see if there might be a little problem we need to address now, before it gets bigger.

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This Weekend’s Assignment:

While you’re outside, check for signs of pests.

We’re going to inspect the outsides of our homes for any signs of termite infestations. Even if you have a termite bond, be aware that not all bonds cover all types of termites; for instance, where I live in northern Florida, our bond doesn’t cover dry wood termites, which aren’t indigenous to our area, but can still be brought to our area and spread through swarming.

If you don’t have a termite bond, it’s even more imperative to know the signs of an infestation so you can hopefully catch it before it becomes a major problem and extreme measures, like tenting, which can cost more than a couple thousand dollars, need to be taken.

Here’s what to look for:

  • “White ants.” If you see white ants around your house, they’re not ants because there’s no such thing as white ants. Termites sometimes look like white ants, so if you see insects matching this description around your house, call your pest control company.
  • Tunneled wood in timber near your house. While you usually can’t see the tunnels created by termites in your house because the wood they eat is behind your walls, if you see wood with galleries near your house, it’s more than likely you’ve got a termite problem.
  • Piles of frass, otherwise known as termite droppings, around the house (they could also be inside). Frass looks like tiny pellets and it’s a sure sign termites are present.
  • Discarded wings are a sign that recent swarming has taken place. While subterranean termites tend to swarm in spring, dry wood termites could swarm at any time of year.
  • Tree nests, while often difficult to spot, can sometimes be detected through a chunk of visible mud. Only a few termite species feed on live wood, but if a tree is declining, termites that eat dead wood could take up residence there. While termites in a tree don’t necessarily mean that termites are in your home, the damage to the tree caused by the termites could pose a threat to you home. Call an arborist if you see anything suspicious.

Knowing what to look for when wondering if you might have termites takes at least some of the fear out of the question of whether you could be housing these hidden, destructive pests.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.