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Old 12-20-2010, 08:19 AM   #1
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Can Broax/Borate be installed in a crawlspace as a termite preventative?

I'm working on sealing my crawlspace. This will involve installing a thick vapor barrier on the ground and up the block walls.

Prior to installing the vapor barrier, I would like to place borax/borate along the block wall where it meets the dirt. Since termites would build mud tunnels up the block walls to get to the wood framing, I thought this might be a good preventative measure.

I had a termite pre-treatment by a licensed pest company and have yearly inspections.

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Old 12-20-2010, 01:23 PM   #2
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Not a bad idea, but to go a step further consider spraying the sill plate and band joist and ends of floor joists with bora-care which will penetrate into the wood with a boric acid type material. Will last for years. If you don't want to spray it on, just apply tim-bor powder onto the same wood. The ambient moisture will slowly take it into the wood to some degree. I used the powder on the sill plates in our garage. Will also kill/repel crawling insects.

Google Boracare and Timbor. There are generic versions of both now, and they would work fine, and should be cheaper. Just cross-check the active ingredients to make sure.

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Old 12-21-2010, 06:13 AM   #3
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Thanks Bugman.

There will still be a few inches of block visible at the sill plate as an inspection area. Just thought since the block to dirt area will be covered, adding the borax/borate might be a good idea.

I'll take a look at those products.

Have you ever read any data that indicates how fast termites can build a mud tunnel? How long would it that to build five inches of mud tunnel?
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:31 PM   #4
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


I like your idea of treating the soil next to the foundation.

Many factors would affect how fast termites can build mud tubes. Exploratory tubes (smaller ones) would be built slower than the main branches that they build after they find wood thru using the exploratory tunnels.

Warmth, dampness would increase the rate. Distance from soil would be a factor. Your location in the south would be conducive. 5 inches a day would not surprise me here in northeast. When we find a live, active tube we get a kick out of destroying about one inch and seeing how fast they rebuild it, usually in 2 to 4 hours.
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:30 AM   #5
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


I'm no expert, but figured I'd chime in with my experience.

I bought bora care online (half the price!) and a stainless pump sprayer this summer.

Sprayed my barn foundation post/beam structure for powder post beetles.

I'll be monitoring it next year, but I was very pleased at being able to do this myself. It was much easier than I guessed it would be.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:33 PM   #6
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Sorry guys. I forgot about my questions here. Thanks for the replies.

I think I will initially try a different approach. I'll still apply the Borax. But instead of installing the plastic up the block walls, I going to apply Zinsser WaterTite. The concrete blocks are above grade with no visible water issues. If that doesn't seal for air and moisture I'll re-look at installing the plastic.

Not knowing what is going on with bugs behind the plastic has me concerned with that approach.
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Old 01-20-2011, 04:36 PM   #7
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Sounds good Earnie. Thanks for the update.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:43 PM   #8
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earnie View Post
Sorry guys. I forgot about my questions here. Thanks for the replies.

I think I will initially try a different approach. I'll still apply the Borax. But instead of installing the plastic up the block walls, I going to apply Zinsser WaterTite. The concrete blocks are above grade with no visible water issues. If that doesn't seal for air and moisture I'll re-look at installing the plastic.

Not knowing what is going on with bugs behind the plastic has me concerned with that approach.
Borate works really well -- an added benefit of Boric Acid is that it'll help keep out mold issues.

Installing the sealant on the walls is a good idea. If you haven't done it yet, I'd also recommend installing a thick plastic liner along the floor -- at least 10+mil -- and running it about a foot up the wall. This will seal the floor but still keep the space accessible for you.


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Old 01-25-2011, 08:44 PM   #9
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earnie View Post
Sorry guys. I forgot about my questions here. Thanks for the replies.

I think I will initially try a different approach. I'll still apply the Borax. But instead of installing the plastic up the block walls, I going to apply Zinsser WaterTite. The concrete blocks are above grade with no visible water issues. If that doesn't seal for air and moisture I'll re-look at installing the plastic.

Not knowing what is going on with bugs behind the plastic has me concerned with that approach.
Earnie, where I work, we add a clear plastic strip along the tip of the installation. This allows for termite inspection, etc. while still having the benefit of the plastic vapor barrier. Companies like Terminex install clear plastic everywhere, but I've seem limited success with that approach. Remember -- you're just looking for mud tubes.
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Old 01-27-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


The more I study this project, the more it changes.

Now I'm not sure I want to install vapor barrier material or a water sealer to the block walls. From what I read, you want the block walls to evaporate any moisture in them instead of directing it elsewhere. The plastic vapor barrier will trap moisture between the blocks and the plastic. The painted water sealer will trap moisture in the blocks.

From what I've read, it's best to install a semi-permeable material, like foam board, which will allow moisture to move out of the blocks.



http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...archterm=floor

http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...d%20in%20walls


http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...ance-and-codes
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:09 PM   #11
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Earnie, what is the disadvantage of trapping the moisture between the plastic and the concrete blocks? As long as it's not affecting the wood in your crawl space, or other organic materials in the crawl space, I fail to see the issue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earnie View Post
The more I study this project, the more it changes.

Now I'm not sure I want to install vapor barrier material or a water sealer to the block walls. From what I read, you want the block walls to evaporate any moisture in them instead of directing it elsewhere. The plastic vapor barrier will trap moisture between the blocks and the plastic. The painted water sealer will trap moisture in the blocks.

From what I've read, it's best to install a semi-permeable material, like foam board, which will allow moisture to move out of the blocks.



http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...archterm=floor

http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...d%20in%20walls


http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...ance-and-codes
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:26 AM   #12
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Be careful about foam board. Termites like to tunnel in it; they feel safe between the board and masonry; they are insulated from temp extremes there as well. We can't see thru the board for inspection. If you go with it, try to at least leave several inches at top for inspection. The termites could also get into the block wall at a lower point and you won't see them anyway.
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:55 AM   #13
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcreteTreat View Post
Earnie, what is the disadvantage of trapping the moisture between the plastic and the concrete blocks? As long as it's not affecting the wood in your crawl space, or other organic materials in the crawl space, I fail to see the issue.

I'm not completely sure. I just know that whoever wrote those articles knows a lot more about moisture movement science than I do.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:04 AM   #14
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


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Originally Posted by PAbugman View Post
Be careful about foam board. Termites like to tunnel in it; they feel safe between the board and masonry; they are insulated from temp extremes there as well. We can't see thru the board for inspection. If you go with it, try to at least leave several inches at top for inspection. The termites could also get into the block wall at a lower point and you won't see them anyway.

The inspection gaps are required in the N.C. residential building code section R409.8.1.1. Three inches at the top rim joist area and three inches at ground level.

No final decison yet. There are so many opinions on the issue I'm still reading and studying. What's a homeowner to do!
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:09 AM   #15
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Borax/Borate for Crawlspace


Earnie, we have contractors that install crawl space vapor barriers in north carolina -- the clear plastic covering should also suffice.

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