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Carpenter Ants under leaking toilet


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Posted by Keith on 1:22:21 1/25/2009 from 148.141.31.3:

A couple mornings ago, on my way out the door, I noticed a small water stain on the 1st floor ceiling of one of the rooms of my house...directly under the toilet in the upstairs guest bathroom. We've only lived in this house for about 1 1/2 years and it was only built 8 years ago, but I've dealt with a few wax ring failures under toilets in our previous home before. I figured I'd pull the toilet, clean up the old ring and replace it with a new one...the usual.

Much to my surprise, when I pulled the toilet up I found a nice little pile of carpenter ants sitting on the vinyl floor under the toilet, which was cut right up close to the flange. We've never seen more than a few ants here and there in this house since we moved in, so I wouldn't have been too alarmed except for the enormous pile of chewed up wood that hadd accumulated several inches high up into the cavity under the toilet bowl.

I went for the shop vac and tipped up the toilet all around and sucked up the ants I could see as well as the sawdust. After I moved the toilet out of the way and started digging around the flange I discovered that the water damage was quite extensive (they just don't build things to last these days, I guess) and I stumbled on a couple of larger pockets of ants under the vinyl burrowed into the rotten wood. I have to admit that I panicked and sprayed ant/bug killer everywhere in the vicinity as I dug out the rotten wood in an effort to keep them from scattering before I could suck them all up. I kept cutting out the vinyl away from the flange until I got to wood that I couldn't dig out any longer (and no more ants).

It appears I got everything in that vicinity, although I do need to rip up the rest of the flooring and determine how much subfloor needs to be replaced. My big dilemma right now, though, is whether or not to bring in an exterminator to check through the rest of the house???

A little history on the house has me wondering whether or not I could have more problem areas. The original owners were foreclosed on several years ago and after they left they either turned on the faucet in the master bathroom or a pipe burst depending on what neighbor you talk to. This was in the opposite end of the house and the result was major flooding and a complete redo of that side of the house including professional mold remediation, etc. The house sat vacant for about two years before we bought it due to its history, but half the house is brand new in the past couple of years and the other half (where the ant problem is) basically was untouched by the remodelers excepting for to paint it.

Should I be more concerned about the carpenter ants because the house has a history of water issues even thought that side has essentially been torn down to the studs, remediated, and rebuilt? Shame on me for not doing a pest inspection when we moved in, but I've dealt with carpenter ants before and never would have guessed by what we've seen (or not seen) that there would be an issue here.

Any help or suggestions on whether or not I should proceed to have the house inspected would be appreciated! The basement is finished, too, so I'm at a bit of a loss as to where I can do any more detective work myself...



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