Do I have to worry about termites if my foundation is a concrete slab?

Andy e-mailed in this question:

"My home is on a slab, and there is about 4 inches of concrete visible all the way around between the ground and the wooden structure. How concerned do I really need to be about termites? Wouldn't I see visible signs of an infestation on the outside (mud tubes on the concrete or something)? Thanks again for your help."
The concrete slab makes it harder for them to get in, but it's not impossible.

There are a couple of ways this could happen. First, there can be cracks in the concrete. Most slabs have them, but whether termites can get through depends on the size of the cracks.

You can read some more technical stuff on that here. Second, they could get in if there are any plants or trees that get too close to the wooden parts of your house.

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Watch your roof in particular - if any tree branches brush against it, it's possible to get an infestation that way. If they got in either of these ways, you wouldn't see any mud tubes.

As far as how concerned you need to be, that depends on whether you're seeing some other sign, like swarming termites or if you're in an area where they're very common. There are several treatments that can be injected into the concrete slab itself by drilling little holes in it, so that pesticides seep into the cracks. There are also "barrier treatments" that would help, where basically you put pesticides around the slab that repel termites. For the trees and brush, it's just a matter of trimming them so any plants are at least a few inches away from your house. I would always do the trimming because it doesn't cost anything, but unless you see termite swarms in your area it may not be worth a slab treatment (because it's a lower risk, and even if you got them it takes a long time for there to be any real structural damage - before then, you would likely see swarmers coming out of your own house).

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