By far the most common of Britain’s four kinds of woodworm is the grub (or larva) of the furniture beetle. It bores through wood and can damage furniture, floorboards and rafters. Severe cases can cause structural damage, and make floorboards too weak to walk on. But this is rare.
Furniture beetle is a pest, but it is easy enough to bring under control and eradicate, so should not be cause for alarm. There are far worse things that can happen to a house! Furniture beetles (Anobium punctatum) are tiny insects, just 6 mm (¼ in) long, which fly into houses from the outside. Adult females will lay 60 or so eggs in cracks, crevices and corners of wood. They prefer softwood and plywood that has not been painted, varnished, polished or treated – so typically go for the backs of pieces of furniture and drawers, and exposed timber under staircases and floorboards, and in the roof, especially if the wood is not bone dry. They also have a taste for wickerwork. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore into the wood, where they will stay for between one and five years before pupating. The pupae then turn into adult beetles, which bore through to the surface to begin the whole process all over again.
The first signs of woodworm infestation are usually a spattering of tiny holes in the surface of the wood made by the adult beetles as they emerge. The holes are about 2 mm (0.1 in) across and very precise – quite easily distinguished from holes made by nails, drawing pins or darts, which are far less regular and betray the fact that they have been pushed in from the outside. Below the woodworm holes there may well be signs of a fine powder consisting of chewed and digested wood. This is known as ‘frass’ (from the German verb ‘fressen’, meaning to eat or devour).
Because woodworm holes are the points-of-exit for adult beetles, the damage will already have been done by the time you notice them. In these days of central heating and better ventilation, timber in houses tends to be dry, which is not what furniture beetles like, so quite possibly your woodworm damage took place a long time in the past. But it is worth checking if the woodworm are still active, because, if so, treatment is required. So, first clean away any dust and frass from the area. Then wait a few weeks and check whether there are any new holes and any new signs of frass. Spring is a good time to start, as this is when woodworm are most active. If you want, you can cover the infected area with a thin layer of paint, or stick a sheet of paper over it. Emerging adult furniture beetles will bore through this new surface to reach the outside, leaving new holes for you to spot.
Call in the experts For serious and extensive infestations by woodworm, you will have to call in specialist pest control contractors. In addition, really badly infected timbers will have to be replaced. If you are buying a house, and the survey shows that woodworm have damaged the structural timbers, a mortgage lender will insist that they are treated by a specialist pest control contractor, who, after treatment, can issue a guarantee against further damage for a number of years. Upholstered furniture infected by woodworm may have to be fumigated, rather than be treated by liquids – again, a job for the specialist.
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Sadly I go to properties time and time again where damp ‘experts’ claim that there is no need to remove the plaster as once the damp proof course (DPC) has been installed the plaster will dry out.
Unfortunately there is no magic wand that can be waved to make the plaster become dry as a result of a DPC installation.
The expert says there is no need for replastering as this is generally the messy part of the process and if they say this, then they feel that there is a better chance that the client will accept the work.
Please beware, you as a client first noticed the damp plaster and not probably the masonry, and if the plaster is not removed then you will continue to notice the damp plaster.
The installation of a DPC is only one part of the overall process and BS 6576:2005 Code of practice for installation of chemical damp proof courses clearly states this that the system is a 2 Part System.
If you ask a contractor to survey your property and they fail to mention about the plaster or say that it will dry out then simply use one that does. The price may be significantly more, however you will get a much better long term solution.
Rising damp actually describes the movement of moisture upward through permeable building materials by capillary action. This moisture brings soluble salts that deposit in the plaster and gradually will move to the surface of the plaster, forming thick crystalline deposits with the appearance of small flowers; hence the term ‘efflorescence’.
The salts are classed as hygroscopic and absorb moisture from the atmosphere and lead the salts to expand and result in the surface spalling and with long term issues create a ‘tide mark’ as a result of the salt.
So even if the wall has been successfully treated you can see that the plaster is still damp, still being affected by salts that will continue to grow, absorb moisture and decay the plaster/wall decorations.
Once the plaster is removed then the process of replastering is to commence. There are a variety of materials and methods to be used. One method which is getting more popular is where the new surface can be decorated in only 2 WEEKS rather than 3-6 months.
For further details don’t hesitate call our friendly, hassle free advice line on 0800 859 5181 or get in touch via email and we will be happy to call you back.