Returning to your winter home: Check for termites

It is snowbird time! I was at the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz airport on Saturday, and wow, was it packed. October and November are the months that most Americans and Canadians who spend their winters in Nuevo Vallarta generally arrive. Last year, with COVID, was an exception. If you are finally back after a long time away, welcome home!

If you own a home in Nuevo Vallarta, you will likely be doing your annual inspection. One of the first things to check is to ensure you do not have termites. Did you know that the queen from the Termitidae family can produce 10 million eggs per year? Hopefully, they will not be in your home! Here are some tips to keep them at bay.

When inspecting your home for termites, there are some tell-tale signs. Some termites leave a tunnel-like elongated cave that sits on the surface of walls. Others leave small piles of what looks like sawdust which is termite excrement. If you are not sure, sweep it up and then check again within 4 to 6 hours. If small piles or tunnels reoccur in the same place, call your exterminator immediately.

Sometimes you cannot see the damage, so knock on every wood surface and wall - furniture, door jams, doors, and even your kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. The areas where termites have eaten will sound hollow. You should be able to see indentations and even be able to push your finger right through the surface.

Termites like to crawl between the walls and along pipes. It's always a good idea to seal any open spaces they can crawl through as a preventative measure.

Some kitchen and bathroom cabinetry in newer condos and casas are prone to attract termites due to the materials they are constructed. Termites love cabinetry made from untreated particleboard. They start behind the walls, climb through the back of the cabinets, and eat the particle board inside the doors. Make sure to remove all items in your cabinetry and inspect them to the back.

Many door jams and mirrors are affixed with plywood or untreated pine blocks. These and shims are also very attractive to termites.

Regularly seal all your countertop seams. Water seeps into the particle board beneath the countertop, making it damp - an ideal location for termites.

Be wary of any furniture you purchase. Lower cost furniture is made from wood that termites like. Carpenters and manufacturers use untreated softwoods such as Mexican pine (often available at roadside bodegas) and low-grade particleboard (like what you might purchase back home in a well-known Swedish furniture store or most department and big box stores). Termites may have already embedded themselves inside the item at the carpenter's shop or in the warehouse. Paying more upfront for hardwood or treated higher grade softwoods often saves you a headache and money in the long run. Once a piece of furniture is infested, your best defense of future problems is to get rid of it.

Since no insurance covers termite damage, it's a good idea to spray your home regularly as a cautionary measure. There are no guarantees, but regular inspections and proactive measures can reduce your risk. A whole house spray for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is comparatively inexpensive and can be completed in less than one hour. For those with allergies and sensitivities, ask your exterminator for alternatives.

Are you or someone you know purchasing a new condo in Nuevo Vallarta? We specialize in helping our clients buy right the first time. We offer furniture shopping tours, furniture packages for sale and for rental, and international relocation services. 

Visit us at our Nuevo Vallarta/Bucerias store: Heroes de Nacozari 126 (Open Monday through Friday 10 to 2).

If you are not currently in Nuevo Vallarta, email us at furniture@solutionsmexico.com or Whatsapp us at +322 136 5156