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Woodworm Found in House Survey

Martha Lott

Written by

8th Dec 2021 (Last updated on 15th Dec 2021) 4 minute read

Woodworm is a common worry for home buyers and seeing this in a property survey is often a concern. Fortunately, both a RICS Home Survey Level 2 and Level 3 will highlight any signs of previous or live beetle infestations.

If your property survey flags signs of woodworm, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. It can be easily treated and unless it’s an extreme case, it’s not structurally damaging. It can also open negotiations with the seller prior to exchanging contracts.

We work with property industry professionals to bring you the latest information for moving house. This article will explain how to spot the signs, how surveyors check for it and what to do if you have an active woodworm infestation.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is Woodworm?
  2. What are Common Signs of Woodworm?
  3. Are Some Beetles Worse Than Others?
  4. How Do Surveyors Check For It?
  5. What Should I Do if My Home Survey Finds Woodworm?
  6. Is it Covered on House Insurance?
  7. How to Prevent Woodworm?
  8. Learn More About Surveying

What is Woodworm?

Woodworm is the term for the larval stage of wood-boring beetles and commonly refers to an infestation of the pest that affects timber in buildings. The larvae of the beetle is what damages the wood as it often spends 3-5 years boring.

Wood-boring beetles will usually be found in damp properties or areas of the property that have condensation or humidity problems. Most properties built prior to 1945 are likely to be affected by infestations, but the introduction of central heating has greatly reduced the risk of a woodworm problem in more modern properties.

What are Common Signs of Woodworm?

The first sign of woodworm will be an area of small holes found on wooden surfaces. The main signs of woodworm are:

  • Small exit holes in timber
  • Bore dust around the hole which will look like sawdust
  • Damaged wood such as weak floorboards
  • Dead beetles - which signals a past infestation
  • Beetles that are alive - hinting at a live infestation

However, if these signs are present, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an active infestation, this can be evidence of a previous infestation. You’ll see ‘frass’, which will look like sawdust, around any holes if the infestation is active.

Most of the time woodworm is harmless, but sometimes you might notice wood in your home that’s damaged, which could be an extreme case of woodworm.

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Are Some Beetles Worse Than Others?

It should be noted there are different types of wood-boring insects, some causing more harm to properties than others.

  • Common furniture beetle - This is the most common type of beetle found in properties and is responsible for 75% of infestations. It’s found in both hard and softwoods.
  • Wood-boring weevil - This type of beetle infestation is usually found in damp timber and areas that suffer from wet rot.
  • House longhorn beetle - Most damage to the timber is caused by the house longhorn beetle and is typically found in damp timber as well. They can also lay up to 200 eggs.
  • Powder post beetle - This type of beetle is attracted to woods such as oak, ash, sycamore and walnut wood and can be found in flooring, panelling and even window frames.

How Do Surveyors Check For It?

You will need a RICS Home Survey Level 2 or Level 3 Building Survey when buying a house as these will highlight signs of woodworm and other damp or timber issues. Your surveyor will inform you if there’s any evidence of current or past wood-boring beetle infestation in your survey report.

They will look for the telltale signs and give their recommendations. They’re also familiar with the common infestation areas such as timber in the roof and isolated areas.

What Should I Do if My Home Survey Finds Woodworm?

Rest assured, woodworm rarely cause structural damage and can be easily treated with an insecticide.

Any cases of woodworm will most likely be highlighted under the ‘roof structure’ section of your survey and your surveyor will typically recommend a report from a Property Care Association (PCA) contractor for the woodworm treatment. Alternatively, they might suggest a damp and timber specialist take a further look.

The survey report should state if this is an urgent matter or not, but woodworm is often found in properties. If it’s a serious infestation, this could be something negotiated with the seller to either cover the costs of removing the infestation or doing it themselves.

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Is it Covered on House Insurance?

As woodworm damage is typically considered to be part of the wear and tear of the property, it won’t be covered in most buildings insurance. Luckily, this is spotted in your survey and often doesn’t lead to serious structural damage, so is classed as ‘gradual deterioration.

How to Prevent Woodworm?

While woodworm rarely poses serious damage, it’s still important to prevent or treat it to ensure it doesn’t get worse. There are certain ways to avoid woodworm from getting into your home.

1. Control humidity - The beetles are attracted to timbers with high moisture content, so to avoid any new infestations, you should try and keep that area or your house at a low humidity level.

2. Treat damp and rotten timber - As wood-boring beetles are often found laying eggs in damp or rotten timber, it’s important to ensure any wood is dry and well ventilated in your property and rotten timber is treated.

3. Inspect new furniture - If you’re buying any second-hand wooden furniture, you should check for any woodworm activity and get it treated prior to bringing it into the property.

    Learn More About Surveying

    This has been part of our surveying guide. In our next article, we take a look at dry rot, its impact on homes and dry rot surveys. To learn more, read what is a dry rot survey?

    Martha Lott

    Written by Martha Lott

    Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.