Three Tips For Inspecting Secondhand Furniture For Termites

When you're shopping for furniture at thrift stores or antique shops, you may feel worried about inadvertently bringing bed bugs home, but you may not know that secondhand furniture can also be home to termites. If you purchase a piece of furniture that's infested with termites, those termites may then spread to your home and cause expensive destruction. To be sure that you don't bring termites home, inspect all furniture very closely before purchasing it. Here are three tips for inspecting secondhand furniture for termites.

Tap the furniture

When inspectors check homes for termite infestations, they tap the wood and listen to see if it sounds hollow. You can do the same thing with the chairs, tables or other pieces of furniture you're interested in buying. Use your knuckles to gently tap the surface of the wood and listen closely. If the wood sounds hollow, then termites may have eaten away at hidden parts of the item.

Hollow-sounding wood isn't a guarantee that the furniture is currently infested. If you're looking at an antique item, it may have been infested and treated many years ago. However, without dismantling the item, you won't be able to see if termites are still living within it, so to be safe, don't purchase the item.

Look for holes on the furniture

Holes on the exterior of the furniture are a clue that termites either are present or have been present in the past. These holes are known as kick out holes and they are the termites' garbage cans. The termites toss their feces and other waste out of these holes to keep their colonies clean.

Kick out holes can be hard to find because termites create doors for the holes. These doors are made of droppings that have been cemented together, and since their droppings are the same color as the wood, these can be hard to find. Look for round areas that have a slightly different texture than the surrounding wood or are not level with the surrounding wood.

Check the ground beneath the furniture Be sure to also inspect the ground beneath the item of furniture that you're interested in purchasing. If the item is currently infested, you will see piles of frass — termite droppings — beneath the item. This frass has been pushed out of the kick holes and has piled up on the ground.

Termite frass is similar in color to the wood they have been feeding on. You may think that the frass is sand, coffee grounds or sawdust. If you spot anything that fits this description underneath a piece of furniture, do not buy it.

When you're shopping for secondhand furniture, remember to check for signs of termites to avoid an infestation at home. If it's too late and you've already brought an infested item home, contact a termite control company to help you treat the item before the infestation can spread.