When my husband, Matt, and I moved into our end-of-terrace cottage last year, we were delighted with our first home. We did some redecorating in places, installed a new kitchen, we even bought a dog! Life was great – then we discovered our beloved home had woodworm.
‘We found the evidence under an old, brown carpet not long after we had moved in. While viewing the property we couldn’t see any issues, but it was when we ripped up the carpet and sanded the floorboards that we saw the telltale holes.
Even then we didn’t realise it was as big a problem as it turned out to be, because we thought it was just old, treated woodworm.
However, the woodworm had spread throughout the property – in the living room, dining room and two of the bedrooms. Thankfully, it hadn’t spread to any of the furniture, but it does make me think twice about buying secondhand furniture in case we bring them back into the house.
A LEARNING CURVE
We didn’t know much about the problem, but my mum had warned us against properties containing woodworm as it could cost a fortune to fix.
As soon as we realised we had it, we contacted a pest company who did a free survey. I had collected a couple of bugs so they were able to confirm straightaway it was woodworm.
This reassured me that the firm thought it was easy to solve. I was worried the bugs had eaten the joists of the house; if so, it would have caused structural problems.
The pest expert told us that it was uncommon for the bugs to pick hardwood joists over softwood floorboards. Luckily, that turned out to be true in our case.
The quote came back at £1,000, so we did a bit of research into spraying the floor ourselves. We read tons of blogs and spoke to friends in the trade, and they all said it was easy enough to tackle the problem, with a bit of planning.
‘I found the right chemicals from Safeguard Europe, which were stronger than most other products you can buy in store. We bought a pump bottle with a hose, boiler suits, goggles and masks. Very Walter White from Breaking Bad!
We lifted every fourth or fifth floorboard, and drenched the top and underside with chemicals diluted in water. It was quite laborious, however knowing the alternative was going to cost £1,000 was enough of an incentive for us to get spraying!
It took most of the day to do and a further three days to dry out, but it got rid of the problem completely.
I was so impressed we’d done it ourselves. We spent £80, which meant we’d saved a huge £920!
TIPS AND TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Lots of companies will say that they can provide guarantees, however, if the company ceases trading in the future (which many might, over the years), then this means nothing.
Because we were invested in the property it spurred us on to do the best job we could, and I feel confident we covered every area.
You should definitely buy all the recommended protective gear, and it requires two people to tackle the job effectively. Try it, you could save lots of money to spend on furnishings.
FAVOURITE FOOD... It's uncommon for woodworm to pick hardwood joists over softwood floorboards
WHAT CAUSES WOODWORM?
- Despite the name, the woodworm is not actually a worm, but an insect: a beetle larvae, to be exact.
- Woodworm is typically found in moist, damp environments. This means that the presence of leaks, mould and mildew, and even damp spots caused by inadequate insulation, can cause dampness and decay in wood that will attract the grubs.
- Driftwood, firewood and untreated furniture can all bring woodworm into your home, so check all wood that you put in your property, especially if it is secondhand.
- Wood can be infected with the beetle eggs or larvae without it being noticeable, so you may not discover an infestation until the culprits have munched away for several years.
- The idea that woodworm only affects old properties is a common misconception. Unfortunately, it can cause damage to newly constructed buildings, too.
TELLTALE SIGNS INCLUDE:
- Small, round holes in your woodwork, similar to the holes in a dart board.
- Fine, powdery dust around these holes, known as frass, which is what the larvae leave behind them.
- Soft, crumbly edges to floorboards, joists, and skirting boards.
- Adult beetles emerging from the holes or present around the house.
Not all cases of woodworm are harmful: consult a professional entomologist to identify the woodworm before you decide on treatment. There are some DIY methods you can try, however, if the problem is severe or widespread, then it may be a job to leave for the professionals.