April 27, 2015 - Front Section
When most people think about termites, they picture a house in the suburbs. But that is a big mistake if you are a property manager. Termites thrive in commercial buildings and infest the heart of N.Y.C. And they don't just limit their diet to wood.
Termites Infest Commercial
Props. as Often as They Do Homes
Termites usually enter commercial structures the same way they enter homes - from the ground up. Tiny hairline cracks in a concrete slab are enough to let in a termite colony. Some commercial and multi-story residential buildings - in the suburbs and the city - have dirt crawl spaces or basements. Those are an open invitation to these destructive pests. Termites can get in through a foundation crack or pipe openings, or any opening 1/16 of an inch. We treated a sixth floor of an apartment building. The termites were hidden behind the finished walls. The finished basement did not allow for visual detection of the termite colony.
Termites Eat More than Wood
Termites are an expensive and dangerous pest when they eat and weaken weight-bearing structural beams. But that is not all they eat. They can eat carpet, furniture, wallpaper, sheetrock and even paper documents. We treated a brick and concrete church near Lincoln Center steps from Midtown Manhattan. The termites were eating structural beams and the floor of the main level sanctuary. In another infestation, we found termites above a drop ceiling eating the ceiling tiles. The termite swarm can create an environment where employees are forced to leave until the swarm ends, causing lost work time.
Termites Can Be a Serious
Preventing termites in your commercial building should be a property manager's top priority. Termites can cause significant structural and cosmetic damage in your business just like they do in residential infestations. But businesses also have to worry about the impact on customers, tenants and employees. We helped a business in Long Island that was struggling through union issues due to worker exposure to termite swarms.
Treating Commercial Termite Infestations Takes Specialized Experience
Termite control companies typically treat a home or commercial property with liquid termite poisons. This method often does not work because you cannot get the termite control products to the correct areas because of structural restrictions. Consider these issues;
* In ground bait stations are not always possible for commercial termite infestations because there often is no open ground. Many commercial structures are surrounded by concrete walkways and parking lots. In built up areas like town centers or downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx buildings sit right next to each other or are totally attached.
* Liquid termiticides can't be used in many commercial buildings. Pouring liquid poison in a dirt basement or crawl space can cause health issues or may be prevented by law. A number of buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island are built over cover canals or buried springs. Any seepage into the ground water must be prevented. In many of these cases an above ground bait station may be the solution
Three Steps to a Termite-Free
1. Knowing that a commercial structure is vulnerable to termites is the first step in keeping your business termite-free.
2. Get a professional inspection annually.
3. Take the opportunity to learn where you are at risk of exposure to a termite infestation.
Arthur Katz is CEO of Knockout Pest Control, Uniondale, N.Y.