A common occurrence in late spring in New England is the awakening of
carpenter ants. If you start noticing carpenter ants in your house or around a
door or window, it is a tell-tale sign that you may have an infestation.
Carpenter ants burrow in moist wood, however they do not eat the wood,
rather they build colonies, which can compromise the integrity of a structure.
If you see a lot of carpenter ants, you have two issues. The first issue is
that the structure of your house is absorbing water in areas that are not designed
to be wet, and the second issue is that you have carpenter ants attacking that area
of moist wood and compromising the integrity of that area.
Exterior trim such as water tables, brick returns, exterior door casing, or
wooden windowsills, are prime candidates for this phenomenon to occur.
However, the most common occurrence that I have seen during my years as a
carpenter is the kick plate below an exterior door system. Generally, this kick
plate is married to a deck or stoop, and excess moisture is the result of
inadequate flashing and counter flashing. Deck flashing is critical to protecting
your structure because your rim-joists and wall sheathing should not become
Repairing a rim-joist and sheathing is often difficult because the deck
platform must be altered to repair the rotten wood and insect-damaged wood. I
find that the door system is more than likely a candidate to be replaced during
this process, because the ants travel into the jamb of the door system. Overall,
this repair can become expensive quickly.
What can you do to prevent carpenter ant damage? The first suggestion is
that you hire a skilled carpenter to perform your exterior door installation and
deck construction. There are many products and techniques associated with this
task, but the strongest recommendation is counter flashing followed by
additional counter flashing. Secondly, hire an insect mitigation contractor to
spray the exterior and interior of your house. A trained insect mitigation
company is an effective way to eliminate insect infestations and protect the
structural integrity of your home.