Last updated: July 29, 2022 at 10:45 am
We’ve all been there; you get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water and jump out of your skin when you hit that creaking floorboard halfway down the stairs!
However, aside from the minor nuisance caused by a creaking floorboard, could it be a symptom of something more serious? Could it be a sign that a swarm of termites are whetting their appetite on your home?
Fortunately, termites are extremely rare in the UK. So it is highly unlikely they are causing a squeaking floor. We will also look at other potential causes of squeaking floors.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Signs of a Termite Infestation
You don’t necessarily need a professional to tell you if your home has been invaded by termites. The signs to look for are:
- Squeaky flooring. Whilst certainly not always a sign of termites, squeaking floors can be an indication of an infestation. Termites are wood-boring creatures and cause damage to wooden flooring, floor support and sub-flooring. If a floor has been eaten by termites, the damage could cause the floor to become more sensitive to bearing weight which results in squeaking.
- Collapsed floor. If your floor has collapsed when you have placed furniture or other heavy items on it, there’s a high chance that this has been caused by termites. If the flooring or support has been weakened to the point of collapse, you could have an extensive termite infestation.
- Hollow sounds. Alongside squeaking noises, if the floor sounds hollow when you tap on it, this could also be a sign of termites. Termites cause cavities in the wood resulting in the floor sounding hollow. Tap on the wood with a solid object and listen carefully.
- Spongy flooring. If your hardwood flooring is spongy and soft, and could easily be penetrated with a sharp tool, this could be a sign of damage caused by termites.
- Buckled Laminate. Termites sometimes eat away at laminate floors but are much more likely to operate underneath laminate flooring as they are attracted to the wooden supports. Laminate that has the appearance of being buckled, blistered or sagging may be a sign of an infestation. The damage can look remarkably similar to water damage.
- Loose tiles. If termites are eating away at wooden joists underneath your tiled floor, this can cause your tiles to become loose.
- Discarded wings. Some termites shed their wings, so finding small piles of discarded wings around your property can be a sign of termites.
- Frass. Termite faeces is known as frass. They look like small pellets with a small point at one end. Frass will be found nearby any cracks in the walls that termites are using to enter and exit.
How to Get Rid of Termites
If from the signs listed above you are convinced that you do have termites in your home, you’ll want to move quickly to get rid of them before they cause any more damage.
If you fancy your chances at removing the infestation yourself, it’s worth mentioning that there are different species of termite. Some are easier to get rid of than others. Identifying the species is difficult to do without professional help.
You will need to use a pesticide containing fipronil. And you will enjoy more success with this if your unwanted visitors are Subterranean termites as they live in the soil around your home. Using a pesticide might be enough to get rid of these, but if you have an infestation of another type such as Drywood termites, this is unlikely to be successful because they live inside the wood.
The best course of action would be to call pest control. By the time you have noticed termite damage, it is highly likely that the problem is already extensive. It will be extremely difficult to remove the termites without professional help. Any pest control company worth their salt should also be able to advise you of any structural damage caused to your home.
Can I repair the damage that termites have done to my flooring?
Whether you can repair the damage caused largely depends on how much damage has been done and which floors have been affected.
Laminate flooring is likely to need completely replacing if it has been affected by termites.
Hardwood floors are more salvageable depending on the extent of the damage. You can cut away and replace any small sections that have been affected. Alternatively, you could use wood filler inside any hollowed areas of wood rather than replace the whole floor altogether.
What Else Could be the Cause of my Squeaky Floor?
If you have ruled out termites as the cause, there are a number of other potential reasons.
- Poorly fitted sub-flooring. If the flooring attached to the joists is not lined up flush, it can cause the floor to become unbalanced. The space left between the flooring and the joists then causes squeaking. This usually happens when the floor has not been fitted correctly but can also occur when the sub-flooring is old or has experienced water damage.
- Temperature. Seasonal changes to the weather can cause squeaky floorboards. Natural wood tends to expand and contract throughout seasonal temperature changes. Unless you have air conditioning and can keep the temperature at stable, a little squeaking is normal under these circumstances.
- Joist problems. If the joists have become loose or warped, this can cause the floor to become loose and squeak.
- Lack of underlay. If an insufficient amount of underlay has been placed between your floor and sub-flooring, this can cause them to rub against each other and make the unwanted noises.
If you’re in doubt about what the cause is, or if you’re not confident than you can find and resolve the issue yourself, then just call the professionals in to resolve it for you.
You can then rest easy in your bed knowing that the next time you have to get up the middle of the night to quench your thirst. At least you won’t give yourself a scare treading on that pesky creaking floorboard!