I am a House-pochondriac – This is Not My Beautiful House

I am a house-pochondriac.

As someone newly divorced, my financial status is diminished. Refinanced the house means I am the sole mortgage owner. That’s ulcer-inducing. I already have the bad habit of self-diagnosing my health. Google helps me diagnose symptoms and declare terminal illness on a regular basis. Now I’m doing that to my home too.

Even though I don’t like my house, I asked for it in the settlement. Initially we intended to put it on the market, so it was fully vetted by inspectors. Also, since we lived here for many years, I know its history intimately. The house’s problems are cosmetic. Since the house is now “mine all mine,” and I’m planning on some remodeling, I’m hyper-alert to every crack, chip, and peel.

For the past two weeks I’ve been convinced I have termites. I’ve had a small infestation of small ants, but I noticed on mother’s day that the small ants had small wings. Of course, this made me think they weren’t ants at all. Once before I lived in a house that did in fact have swarming termites. Termites swarm on mother’s day. Ants or termites? Google is my friend.

In order to put the house on the market, we had a termite inspector visit us, and he declared us termite free, at least in all visible locations. We’ve also had an ongoing contract with our pest control company for years, and they provide and annual statement telling us we are termite free. By “us” I mean the house and me. Maritally we weren’t termite free. The pest control company was just here in May. A couple of days ago, I called the company to demand another inspection, due to the small ants with small wings.

Also, I have documentation from an engineering company that my foundation is perfectly fine, and that the cracks previous to May were all within normal house-settling range. Still, I’m sure my house is being destroyed by millions of termites and the roof will fall on top of my head.

The signs of termites include things like mud tubes and papering of wood, which I don’t have – visibly. But I do have these things:

1) Cracks in molding, sheetrock, over doorframes, and around cabinets. The pest man (haha!) is going to attribute this to foundation settling, but I have had the foundation inspected no less than three times since owning the house (long story), and it’s fine. The house did have a settling problem, but that was addressed a few years back.

Cracks

Termite damage, foundation damage, or house settling?

2) Holes in the bricks and mortar. After more searching, I inferred they were wasp tunnels. The pest man (haha!) told me that the holes were too symmetrical for pests and that a previous owner probably had something hanging.

termite holes

Did termites eat this mortar?

 

Termites

Is this a mud straw? (It’s wasps, silly)

3) Over the door frame between the kitchen and living room there is a series of small puncture holes. I know for a fact that those holes could only be made by termites boring into the sheet rock. Now, the pest man said that if they were termite holes, there would be termite mud coming out of them. Uh huh, right. So what could have caused those holes?

termite damage?

Did termites crawl into these holes?

Later, I remembered why they were there. When we first moved in, my husband thumb tacked a blanket over the doorway to eliminate light so that we could watch our projector during the daytime. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!!!

Ok, so, I don’t know what to say about the gaps in the crown molding. The only thing I can think of is the foundation settling and my paranoia. I have had plumbers and a contractor do some work that required pulling away the sheet rock and repairing damp wood. None of them identified termite damage or extensive rot.

I should be able to sleep soundly, but I keep thinking that if it’s not termites, it’s probably wood rot or water damage. I think the next thing to Google is the various forms of wood rot, water damage,  and fungi. What are they called?

paint bubble termite damage

What’s behind here? Water damage or termites?

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