Apr 27, 2012 – New Door, Old Problem?


I had an inspection of an apartment that had new wood doors installed. The client has complained that the doors have some type of wood termite, and we detected that the doors have holes the size of a pen tip. The manufacturer indicated that the inside of the doors might have an infestation of a wood boring insect. If you can send me information as to the type of termite we might be dealing with and the the treatment to solve the situation.


Since this is a new door, although you don't indicate how old the door might be, it is very possible that it was built with infested wood. This is not an uncommon problem for lumber to become infested while in storage, although it IS unusual for a wood products manufacturer to actually suggest that they may be at fault. With holes the size of the tip of a pen it could be True Powderpost Beetles if this is a hardwood door, such as oak, or deathwatch / furniture beetles if it is pine. Either of these beetles has the potential to continue to infest the wood with future generations of offspring. I would discount the idea that it is termites, although you do have drywood termites in your area, because the evidence of these termites is not the holes in the wood so much as the appearance of their fecal pellets that are pushed out of their galleries and which fall to the surfaces below. 

It would be important to determine whether or not this is currently an active infestation, and one reason is that successfully treating the doors could be difficult. I assume the doors have some kind of finish on them - paint or a clear finish - and therefore applying an insecticide to the doors could be ineffective. A product like Bora-Care, which has the potential to move into the wood to kill beetle larvae within, can only be applied to bare wood. Other topically-applied insecticides either also need to go onto bare wood or they have the potential only to kill emerging adult beetles, as they do not penetrate deeply enough to get to larvae feeding inside. Another option would be to remove the potentially infested doors and have them fumigated or heat-treated by someone licensed to do this, and removing the doors to apartments for a couple of days is probably not realistic. 

It also is possible that the doors had the holes when they were purchased and installed, and that this infestation long ago ran its course. Since the cost of treating all of them could be quite high it might make more sense to get the manufacturer of the doors to replace them at his expense, particularly since he has indicated his suspicion that he may had sold them doors that were infested. You might also try filling all the current holes in the doors and waiting to see if any new holes appear. This would indicate an ongoing infestation. Some wood products will often have old holes from bark beetles or ambrosia beetles, and the holes are simply exposed when the wood is milled into lumber, the saw cutting through the old galleries. These could be identified by the angle at which the holes meet the wood surface - at an angle instead of perpendicular to the surface. 

So, my suggested course of action would be to first ensure the holes are appearing now after the doors were installed. Second would be to work with the manufacturer of the doors to replace them, and third would be to treat in whatever manner is possible with these doors if you determine the infestation is live and ongoing. 

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