I’ve lived in my house for 15 years. It’s a wonderful home – an old Victorian with lots of charm and character. Unfortunately, that character can sometimes mean unwelcome surprises – like Boo (named for the notorious Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird).
I noticed Boo after living in the house for about 10 years. It started as a croaking noise, rising sharply from the basement every evening. At first, I thought it was the house settling. It was old, after all. Then, I would think, But the house has already settled, right? I realized something else was happening, but it was innocuous enough that I didn’t think to delve deeper. I named the noise Boo and continued on with my life.
The creaking and croaking became a low moan a couple of months later. It sounded like an injured animal, or perhaps a very sad man. I guess that name fits whatever is happening, I remember myself thinking once or twice. Still, though the noise was starting to get a little creepy, I didn’t think very much of it. I’ve lived in scarier places and in older buildings. I didn’t believe in ghosts, and I’d walked around the basement to see if someone had snuck in through one of the low windows. I saw nothing but the unfinished floors and countless storage containers. I didn’t mind the noise.
It happened a few months later: a terrifying crack. I at first thought a tree had fallen outside but quickly realized it had come from inside the house. This was starting to get weird. I knew it wasn’t a person messing with me – I’d already checked – so I decided to call an inspector. If there was something wrong with the house, they would be able to tell me. If there was nothing wrong, I would figure out something else.
As it turned out, I didn’t need to figure out something else. The inspector found the issue immediately. Termites.
I later learned that termites are some of the worst types of pests a home can have. They are not only disgusting, but they can cause major structural damage to a house. It is very easy for termites to go unnoticed – they rarely leave signs on exterior walls. To actually find them, an inspector needs to check the sub-flooring for signs of damage. I learned all of this after living with the colony for years; the noise came from the insects burrowing into the foundation and destroying parts of my house. I’ve since hired an exterminator, but every time I hear a creak, I can’t help but call an inspector. What would have happened had I neglected to call for another few months? I don’t want to think about it.