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By Martha Phifer

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2008-(MCT)-Termites cause more than $5 billion a year in property damage, according to Terminix. Worse even, the company warns, the damage is usually not covered by homeowners insurance.

Winged termites or discarded termite wings often found near doors and in windowsills are signs of a possible termite infestation. Other signs include mud tubes, which are hollow, drinking straw-sized roadways for termites, and wood that makes a hollow sound when tapped.

In addition to having your home inspected by a professional at least once a year, the company offers the following tips to keep termites out:

Fix roof or plumbing leaks that allow termites to survive aboveground.
Ensure that gutters drain properly and direct moisture away from foundations.
Eliminate all wood-to-soil contact around the foundation, keeping firewood or other wood debris from being stacked against the side of the home.
Keep mulch or soil away from the home’s siding. It’s best to have a barrier of a few inches.
Remove items such as scrap lumber, boxes and old books or newspapers from crawl spaces.
Maintain adequate ventilation in crawl spaces.
Use a mesh screen on all windows, doors and ventilation openings.

© 2008, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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