What I'm Seeing Now


You Have To Look Behind

Sometimes, as a home inspector, you have to look behind.

And that isn't always easy.

You have to look behind what?

In this case, a lot!

The laundry closet in this house is in the basement under the entry stairs.

There is enough head clearance, at least where the washer and dryer are located.  But under the entry way platform it is only about 4' high.

But the water main is there, against the front wall!  I like to see it.

And you have to look behind.

What is between the washer/dryer and the water main?  And what else might a home inspector find?

Well, if he climbs over the washer/dryer.

And steps over the boxes beside the water heater.

And maneuvers around a few more boxes and other homeowner storage.

And twists upside down.

And shines his flashlight upward...

Why all that?

Because the termite guys tell me that around here 90% of the time termites get into the house under the front door.


Because typically in front of the door there is solid material - a stoop, concrete stairs, a porch, etc. - which provides a constantly-dark, moist, temperature-controlled place for termites to investigate locations to get into the house to eat.

What do they eat?  Wood.  They eat to return to the queen to provide her food.  Her job is to provide more termites.  Their job is to find more food to eat.  So they can return to the queen.  So she can provide more termites.

And the beat goes on.  24/7/365.

I understand a termite needs only 1/64" to get in!  That's a pretty narrow crack!  And if they find it they will exploit it.

Sometimes I find wood rot under the front door.  But sometimes I find termite evidence!

Do you see the termite tunnel in that photo?  To the comment (and photo) on my report it will be said, "He is only the home inspector.  The termite inspection will evaluate that for real."

I could see a 40 pound termite and they would not believe me.

Fine.  Evaluate away.  But I wonder (if there was no home inspection report and photo) if a termite inspection would have gone over the river and through the woods as I did to see what I saw.

My recommendation:  sometimes you have to go over the river and through the woods.  Sometimes you have to look behind.  And have a good look!  You don't know what you might find.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • April 22 2015 04:55AM


Good morning Jay,

And spray foam to block further hidden trails!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich am I looking at the mud tunnel that runs perpendicular to the stud?  a pest inspector would ot have found that....I'd put money on that one....actually, I don't ever remember a home inspector going "over the river and through the woods".....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) almost 6 years ago

My eyes wouldn't have the capability to ratchet down to anything as small as 1/64th of an inch Jay Markanich. These people are lucky to have someone willing to get down to business. After seeing what termites can do a 40 pounder would be formidable. Even a 1/4 ouncer would scare me out of house and home, literally.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) almost 6 years ago

Over the river and through the woods only to come face to face with a 40lb termite, I think I could take him!

And no, the termite guy would have never seen that mud tube.... They spend about 15 minutes at the house. I knew a termite guy that just poked around with this fancy stick he made with a golf ball on the end... fore!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 6 years ago

Termites LOVE spray foam, Raymond!  It's dessert.

And I don't remember termite inspectors doing that Barbara.  I have seen them come and go during my home inspection, in 5 minutes.  Yes, the little line is a termite tunnel.

I try to get people to do that with their fingers during inspections, Kevin, and it's hard.  An eighth of an eighth of an inch.  I took a photo once of a termite on my thumb, during a home inspection, and the termite company that had the house on their wondrous contract said I was lieing.  Only five people saw the termites all over my hand, and we were all lieing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Just throw him some wood chips Fred!  I hear they really like mesquite...

Termite companies show up during my inspections from time to time and they aren't there long!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Sherlock Holmes has nothing on you JayMAn! 

Is there anything that you miss?

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 6 years ago

I took that photo at arm's length, with a ballerina twist in my body, Tom, and I bet I miss a whoooole lot!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay. You made me laugh big time. A forty pound termite....love it.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 6 years ago


Incredible find.  Not many inspectors would go to the lenght you do.

Wish i had your number when we were buying a new house back in 2011.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 6 years ago

Termites are as common here as sunny days. If you own a home for any length of time in Arizona chances are you will have termites. Thankfully they are easily treatable. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Sheila.  I have heard that I am only a home inspector many times!

It wasn't easy but I could see it Stephen.  That's the good part.

Nicole - I would have thought it very dry there and they wouldn't like it!   Regular treatment works, however.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

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