Termite Damage vs Water Damage
Water Damage to a Wood Floor

Pictures of Water Damage vs. Termite Damage

Earth contains 2,750 termite species, and the U.S. has 45 termite species. The annual economic termite damage is $40 billion globallySubterranean termites account for approximately 80% of the total economic impact.

Residential water damage is close, yet surprisingly costs less at $13 billion annually in the U.S. Still, the average home insurance water damage claim is $10,234, and 14,000 homeowners have a water-damage emergency each year. If you have a basement, you have a 98% chance of having water damage at least once.

It's certainly worth knowing the difference between water damage vs. termite damage since these numbers indicate the damage is expensive if you are unfortunate enough to have an event. You can tell the difference between water damaged wood and termite damaged wood if you know what to look for.

Pictures of Water Damaged Wood
Pictures of Water Damage to Wood Floors

Pictures of Water Damage
Water damage reacts differently as the water expands and contracts. As you can see from the image above, there are various types of water damage in wood.

  • In image A, you can see a noticeable water stain on a wood floor.
  • In image B, mold has grown on the wood and caused the wood to darken. In other cases, there may not be mold, but the wood will still discolor, usually to a darker color.
  • In image C, the wood contracts, or shrunk, from expanding and contracting after being wet, then dry.
  • Image D shows a wood cupping shape or a "crown shape."  It bubbles outward. This wood expansion is due to moisture imbalance over a long time. The plank's top had more water exposure than the bottom, often from spilling or dripping.

Pictures of Water Damage
Pictures of Water Damage on Walls and Ceilings in a Home

Water damage in a home affects plaster, paint, wallpaper, and drywall similar to wood, with some additional markings. As you can see in the picture above, water stains and dark spots with mold also appear as they do on wood. But, you will also see paint chipping, cracking, and blistering.

Pictures of Termite Damage
Depending on the termite species, termite damage is characterized by eating patterns.

Pictures of Subterranean Termite Damage
Pictures of Subterranean Termite Mud Tubes and the Mud Tube Effect They Leave Behind

Pictures of Subterranean Termite Damage
Subterranean termite damage looks like mud shelter tubes on wood, walls, and tree trunks. As illustrated in the pictures above, Subterranean termites are mainly known for their mud tubes and mud tunnels.

  • Image A shows the after-effect of Drywood termites who have already eaten and hollowed out the wood's surface.
  • The other images show active termite tunnels where colonies of termites are living.

Pictures of Drywood Termite Damage
Pictures of Drywood Termite Damage, Which Appears as Honeycomb and Pinholes

Pictures of Drywood Termite Damage
Drywood termite colonies do not connect to the soil, so their galleries do not contain mud. Their galleries are smooth as they eat along the wood's grain. As the pictures of termite damage in wood floors above show, they push 6-sided pellets out of the colony and through holes the size of the tip of a pen.

Pictures of Dampwood Termite Damage
Pictures of Dampwood Termite Damage and Dampwood Termites

Pictures of Dampwood Termite Damage
Dampwood termites need abundant sources of water. They thrive in wet wood caused by roof leaks, contact of wood-to-soil, wood siding, or sprinkler watering. These conditions also attract fungal decay and subterranean termites.  Infestations can spread to dry wood near a moisture source. The colony will slowly diminish and submit to desiccation when the moisture gets eliminated.

Like Drywood termites, Dampwood termites present fecal pellets, but the pellets lose their unique shape and form clumps or paste due to the moisture, as you can see from the pictures above. Dampwood termite damage usually looks clean and smooth inside the wood. They often eat across the grain, especially in wood that is decayed.

How Bad Is Water Damage to a House?
Water can cause enough structural damage to ruin your home, permanently damaging your walls and foundation. Mold and mildew can lead to skin irritation and respiratory problems, and your home to smell bad. Your walls may be stained, and excess water can even cause electrical damage.

Will My Home Insurance Cover Water Damage?
It depends. Like termite damage, if your water damage occurred over a long time, your insurer will probably consider it a maintenance issue that is not covered. You might have left a window open, and rain seeped in, or your window AC leaked onto your walls. Or a leaking pipe caused damages. Those scenarios are not covered.

However, sudden accidental water damage is covered. For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts, that is covered.

How Bad Is Termite Damage?
Some realtors would never recommend buying a home that already has a termite problem because a termite infestation can destroy a house. However, if you are diligent, you can take preventive measures to keep it from becoming a problem again, especially if you work with a home inspector and get a termite inspection regularly.

Will My Home Insurance Cover Termite Damage?
No. Termite damage is considered a maintenance problem, and home insurance never covers poor maintenance-related damage.

Hope that helps!

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Young Alfred