Termite infestation is a threat throughout large swathes of the US and even parts of Canada. And, as you’ll see below, like most buildings ICF buildings don’t offer bulletproof protection against the pests by default. But did you know that there are several effective ways of protecting your ICF walls from termite damage?
This post will discuss a few simple measures you can take to minimize the risk of termites laying waste to your ICF walls. Read on to find out more!
Why Insulated Concrete Forms Are Vulnerable to Termites
It’s common knowledge that wood-frame buildings often fall victim to burrowing termites. And it makes sense — termites feed on organic matter, such as the lumber used in these homes’ structures.
But, interestingly enough, even non-organic matter like the EPS used in ICFs is still vulnerable to these pesky insects. That’s because, by tunneling through the insulation, termites can hide from predators and find possible sources of moisture.
This is why building codes in Canada and the US have provisions that are meant to protect ICF walls from termite damage in areas prone to infestation.
For example, the 2015 National Building Code of Canada (22.214.171.124.2 a) calls for these elements:
- A plastic or metal barrier installed through the insulation to control the passage of termites
- Ability to inspect the assembly and identify a termite outbreak
In the US, the residential code allows products such as ICF to be used in heavily-affected areas, as long as they’re used with one of the protection methods below:
- Approved termiticide treatment
- Termite baiting system
- Pressure-preservative-treated wood
- Naturally durable termite-resistant wood
- Approved physical barrier
- Approved cold-formed steel framing
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How to Protect Your ICF Wall From Termite Damage
Below, we’ll take a look at some effective termite protection strategies that meet code requirements in Canada and the US. These strategies are summarized on this Logix ICF technical bulletin which you can download here.
Apply a Below-Grade Termite Barrier
A peel-and-stick membrane, such as Soprema’s Colphene ICF, offers a way to block termites’ access to the ICF’s insulation. In fact, Colphene ICF has passed laboratory testing that confirmed its resistance to termites.
Soprema’s Colphene ICF is an SBS modified bitumen membrane with a tri-laminate woven polyethylene facer, and its primary purpose is to serve as a dampproofing or waterproofing layer. Since ICF products like Logix ICF require a waterproofing layer below grade, opting for a product like Colphene ICF will let you kill two birds with one stone — protect your ICF wall from both water and termites.
Install Inspection Strips
Inspection strips allow an observer to flag termite infestations and eliminate them before major damage occurs.
Here’s how they work:
Since termites always try to avoid direct sunlight, when forced onto the exposed surface of a building, they build mud tubes to travel through. So, you’d install concrete inspection strips around the building’s perimeter just above grade, and watch for mud tubes to appear on them — these are a tell-tale sign of a termite outbreak.
Use Logix TX Blocks — If Possible
If you’re building in the US, you may be able to get your hands on Logix TX blocks. These blocks use imidacloprid, an approved termiticide, to kill termites before they even get to the foam board. Since this compound actually coats every single EPS bead in a Logix TX block, it provides far more effective protection than borate-treated EPS.
Logix TX product are currently available on a limited basis – by special order at our Wichita Kansas plant only.
Discourage Termite Infestation
Apart from physical barriers, termiticide, and inspection strips, there are things you can do to stop termites from picking your building as their next target in the first place.
For example, a good drainage plan will keep moisture away from the home, thus making it less attractive to moisture-loving termites.
And, if the property has a fair amount of vegetation, it’s always best to keep the plants from touching the building. The same goes for wood storage — any dry wood (termite food, essentially) should be kept as far away from the structure as possible.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you’re in a heavily affected area of the US, or a place that’s prone to termite infestation in Canada, the best thing you can do is protect the ICF with a physical barrier, such as Soprema’s Colphene ICF. Doing so will effectively block termites’ access to the wall.
However, there are a few other things you can do to protect your ICFs from damage:
- Install inspection strips to learn about outbreaks as early as possible
- If possible, use a termiticide-treated ICF product, like Logix TX
Also, don’t forget that keeping moisture, vegetation, and dry wood far away from the building is an excellent strategy for averting termite damage.