A 2014 bush fire in Parkerville, Western Australia has left some residents battling a power company after it was discovered the power pole that caused the blaze was affected by termites. Did you know that as a landowner you are responsible for maintaining the health of power poles on your property? If you have never inspected your power poles for termites before, now is the time to do so before the summer hits, the ground dries up and the fire risk increases.
There are two main ways you can tell whether your power pole has been visited by termites and the first option is to do a visual inspection yourself. Some facts you should know when you are inspecting the poles include:
- Not all termites live in colonies. The West Indian Drywood termite, for example, has small, fully contained nests instead and is often not discovered until after the wood has collapsed. This means that the absence of colonies does not mean the absence of termites.
- Faecal pellets on the ground are an indication termites are in your power poles. The pellets are only as big as a piece of table salt and are light beige coloured. They get pushed out of the excavation tubes and accumulate at the base of the pole as termites dig into the wood.
- Soft wood that gives under the pressure of your hands is a physical sign termites have eaten the interior of the power pole. If you can easily shred the wood in your hands, your power pole may be infected.
Because not all types of termites leave a visible trace of wood damage, a professional inspection is the second way you can confirm whether these insects have weakened your power poles.
Professional termite inspectors use echo equipment such as sonar to determine whether a wooden pole has been hollowed out by termites. Sound waves move through the pole and indicate which parts of the pole are still solid and which parts are now hollow. This allows the operator to form a virtual map of how much of the pole has been eaten by termites and this can be used to determine whether the pole has been weakened to a point of being structurally unsafe.
Whether you do the termite inspection yourself or you chose to have it professionally done, the removal of any termites found must be left for a company experienced in termite eradication. Considering the size of the bush fire in Parkerville that was caused by one damaged pole, getting rid of your termites properly gives you peace of mind that the power poles on your property are unlikely to cause your home to go up in flames.