Dear Barry,

My husband and I disagree over how to treat the termites in our home. For the past 27 years, he has sprayed poison wherever we’ve seen frass particles. I’ve heard that termites must be professionally exterminated, but he says that termites are a permanent problem in our area and that they will always return after extermination. What is your advice? –Ninel

Dear Ninel,

Here are some vital termite facts to help settle your domestic debate:

1. Termite colonies continually increase in population. The older a termite colony is, the more mouths it has to feed. A 5-year-old colony may contain a few thousand termites. A colony that is 27 years old could have a census of millions. Consider how much wood that many termites could eat on a daily basis.

2. Termites live deep within the recesses of the wood members of a structure. They eat tunnels in the wood framing until all that is left of a stud, joist or rafter is the outer veneer.

3. When termite tunnels become clogged with frass (termite poop), the little "wood-munchers" make small holes to expel these particles from their domain. The frass that you see in your home is a small sample, compared with what could be found in the attic or inside the walls.

4. Insect sprays cannot penetrate into the structural framing members where termites live, eat and multiply. The only way to eliminate them is to have your home professionally exterminated. Postponing this process ensures the continued consumption of the wood components of your home.

Dear Barry,

Home inspectors are often accused of negligence when excessive weather conditions prevent them from inspecting some areas of a home. For example, a home inspector might not inspect an attic when the outside temperature is more than 100 degrees. If problems in the attic are discovered at a later date, is it unfair to hold the inspector liable? –Gloria

Dear Gloria,

Weather conditions often prevent home inspectors from completing portions of an inspection, and liability can be a problem in some of these instances if undisclosed defects are discovered at a later date. Rain, for example, can prevent a home inspector from walking on a roof. Snow can prevent an inspector from even seeing a roof. And hot weather, as you suggest, can prevent inspection of an attic. However, in each of these instances, the need for disclosure does not end with a disclaimer in the inspection report.

In the case of an overheated attic, the inspection report should recommend further evaluation of the attic prior to close of escrow. If the attic is too hot in the afternoon, it will probably be much cooler the following morning. A home inspector who is concerned about the interests of customers will make that kind of recommendation. This applies to other situations, as well. Wet weather, cold weather, storage of personal property, inaccessibility or other issues can prevent the completion of an inspection. Home inspectors should always recommend further evaluation when conditions that prevent a full inspection have been eliminated. This approach serves the disclosure needs of home buyers and reduces the liability of home inspectors.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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