Termite Action Group » Home Owners » WHAT TERMITE SYSTEMS ACTUALLY WORK!!


What Termite Systems Actually Work!!




The TAG was contracted by the Pest Management Industry Association – AEPMA – back in 2003 to review all preconstruction termite management systems in use at that time.


Please note herein from the outset that the TAG makes NO COMMENT on either the Termi-mesh System or the TMA Corporation in the following review of Termite Management Systems as per the requirements of a Federal Court Order (GAG Order) provided to TMA Corporation requiring TAG make ‘NO COMMENT’ in relation to their product(s).


The review involved extensive travel throughout Australia to note the different forms of construction in the States and Territories as well as the many and varied methods of installed termite management systems utilised in residential housing, schools and government buildings.


What was noted in the TAG review was that there were basically three types of systems utilised in preconstruction termite management –



  • Envelope Treatment of Timber


  • Systems emplaced in the Structure of a Building


  • Chemicals placed in the Ground at the perimeter of a Building



The TAG reported back to the AEPMA as follows :




Envelope Treatment of Timber



Envelope treatments of timber are fragile, especially given that cuts to timber generally exposed the structural members to attack from termites where facings did not abut treated areas and that the Standard (AS 1604.1) that deals with timber preservation and treatments had issues pertaining to advice that the heartwood content – i.e. : That part of the timber which is hard to treat – was termite resistant!


The Standard has attracted much criticism for representing the concerns of industry whilst ignoring the welfare of the Consumer – “The End-User” – and the advice by the only engineer on the Standards Committee (Peter Campbell) was that ‘Vendor Capture’ of the Standard by Industry Interests had occurred to assist in the sales and marketing of Osmose and Koppers products as the two major companies in the market-place.


The TAG was advised of strong allegations that the Standards Committee was stacked with members who either directly or indirectly were the beneficiaries of these companies in supporting their pecuniary interests in having conditions and clauses in the Standard (AS 1604.1) literally specifying the use of their timber preservation treatments.


These two companies were later to become embroiled in massive court cases for being involved in cartel behaviour.  Subsequently, both the ACCC in Australia and the NZ Commerce Commission in New Zealand found these parties to be complicitly involved in price-fixing.


It has been alleged that most of the participants on the Standards Committee were also in the pocket of these two companies and that the Standard basically specified around the characteristics of their products causing other companies to be shut out of the market-place – i.e. :  Vendor Capture of the Standard.


The TAG has formed the view that envelope treatments of structural timber members cannot be relied upon as a barrier to termite activities which is reflected in the limited warranty provided by suppliers of these envelope timber treatments.


Multiple exclusions in these limited warranties provide the reader with the view that there is little, if any, real warranty provided in having such a treatment provided and that the chemistries used in the treatment were often provided a life-span based on extrapolated data given that the introduction of the chemistries had only come about of recent times.


When these envelope treatments were first provided, it was an LOSP treatment provided in a pressure chamber.  Many of these treatments were discontinued because of health and safety issues with handling of materials.  Today, these treatments are spray or dip treatments that do not penetrate far into the sapwood content of the timber.


The TAG was completely unable to provide any sort of recommendation for this system.






 Systems emplaced in the Structure of a Building 



These systems are best referred to as Physical Termite Management Systems despite many of these systems incorporating a chemical therein whether it be incorporated in a blanket or a parge cement or otherwise.


These systems are generally incorporated into the structure in the lower courses of brickwork or external fascia and extend into the internal perimeter cavity of the building just below the timber framework of the structure.


These systems include plastic blanket with chemical sandwiched in a matrix therein, metal sheeting, cement parging, granite aggregate, glass particles, etc.


These systems became popular after the Organochlorine chemistries were discontinued in mid-1995 and were mistakenly introduced as termite barriers and misrepresented to Homeowners as such over the following years.


The TAG advised the AEPMA that these systems could be easily ‘bridged’ within hours by termites and given that inspections, when and if they occurred, were generally an annual event – There was little or no real protection on offer and these systems were certainly NOT barriers to Termites!


A ‘Green Lobby’ and a compromised CSIRO Entomology Department had caused the ‘BARRIER’ contention to arise with ‘Greenies’ happy to see less chemistry in the ground and the CSIRO performing testing on these new systems that had no objectivity or understanding as to how these systems were to be practically utilised.


In fact, a TAG Representative met with CSIRO operatives to gain insight into the testing the CSIRO had undertaken and found that wrapping timber in termite management system material and burying it in termite workings was no indicator as to how the system would perform in a practical situation.


Driving termites up glass tubes into granite aggregate also demonstrated how ‘bridging’ access was denied in testing regimes.  Practical applications of the product were finite whilst testing applications were in ad infinitum meaning that a practical application that accorded with the testing regime would require that you fully enclose the entire building with the product and deny access to the building to the Homeowner!


The reality is and always will be that you cannot fence termites out of buildings!

Unlike sheep and cattle, termites travel on vertical planes as well as horizontal planes.

It is as simple as that!


Furthermore, the fact that none of the systems was able to provide a ‘BRIDGING’ Warranty where termites climbed over their system demonstrated the accuracy of the TAG contentions.


These systems were previously described in the media as being environmentally friendly, maintenance-free and, arguably, termite-proof!


This was completely false, baseless and misleading information.


All of these systems accept ‘Bridging’ as a natural occurrence and not as ‘Product Failure’ for which Warranty can be invoked by the Homeowner.


After many years of the TAG campaigning and lecturing both the Standards Committee and the Building Codes Board on this very issue, Standards Australia and the Australian Building Codes Board have now both had the word ‘BARRIER’ removed from the Standard (AS 3660.1 – 2014) and the National Construction Code respectively.


These systems have a use but it is extremely limited and they should never be referred to as either Termite Barriers and/or Termite Protection.


All of these systems operate by having many very regular inspections and should therefore be noted as Termite Monitoring Systems as opposed to Termite Barriers!


The TAG therefore advises that there is a limited use for these products as long as the Homeowner understands the limits, shortcomings and inspection requirements of utilising this methodology.






 Chemicals placed in the Ground at the perimeter of a Building



Organochlorines (Dieldrin, Aldrin, Chlordane, Heptachlor, etc.) were high vapour chemistries placed in the ground in and around buildings that were exceedingly effective and persistent.  In fact, the capacity of these chemistries to stop termites had allowed the ‘slab-on-ground’ form of construction to become common.

These treatments were generally provided as a Part A (Underslab) Treatment and a Part B (Perimeter) Treatment and when applied at the full rate were considered to be good for 40-50 Years.   They were often provided at half-rates which were still effective for 25-30 Years.  These chemistries were also relatively cheap, especially in comparison to the newly introduced chemistries.


The problem was that the organochlorine chemistries were also carcinogenic and in mid-1995 they were discontinued to be replaced by initially the physical systems described above and then also the less effective and less persistent low vapour chemistries discussed as organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids.


When the TAG initially questioned the capacity of physical systems being able to replace the Organochlorine Regime of the previous fifty years, the TAG Co-ordinator was branded as a ‘Chemical Man’ – This being despite the fact that the TAG was simply looking at all systems to find something that actually worked!


Physical systems at the time were being over-run by termites and chemical systems were being put around them as the only real form of treating the problem.


Organophosphate chemistries were initially an airborne chemistry that were then utilised as in-ground chemical termiticide treatments when organochlorines were discontinued in mid-1995.


It is now accepted that this low vapour chemistry had a host of issues generated with soil application – i.e.  Degradation, Fractional Binding, Alkalinity, Soil Mediums, etc. – This chemistry should be removed from usage immediately!     An APVMA Issue!


The synthetic pyrethroids were far more successful in their introduction and was utilised extensively when pest technicians found that the organophosphates were failing at alarming rates even when applied at labelled rates.


It should be noted that the Pest Management Industry had major problems with fraudulent practises at the time involving costs of  treatments whereby builders were being charged prices less than the wholesale costs of the chemicals required to perform a treatment in accordance with the Standard.


Corruption in the preconstruction area of termite management was widespread endemic and systemic throughout the industry.   Ethical pest technicians left this area in droves to work in post construction termite management where the effects of these illicit practises flourished to provide a continuous stream of remedial works.

In Queensland, the use of chemical treatments was largely discontinued after a ‘concrete capping strip’ regulation was introduced in 2001 to cause a mass uptake of the use of physical termite management systems in their place.  Whilst this was heralded as a success, the reality was that the Queensland Government, which had responsibility for problems with chemical treatment systems, did not have the responsibility for the failures of these physical termite management systems.




If physical termite management systems were ‘BREACHED’, it was a manufacturer/installer problem!

If physical termite management systems were ‘BRIDGED’, it was a Homeowner/Client problem!

Either way, it was no longer a Queensland Government problem!

 The Queensland Government’s Building Authority announced that termite problems were no longer on the top of their ‘Defects List’ and was no longer on their radar!

They had creatively got rid of the problem as only bureaucrats can do!


Chemical installations through reticulation was supposedly the way forward but this was fraught with problems!  Many of these systems had been initially tested with high vapour organochlorines and their interaction with low vapour chemistries and suspect hydraulics was a massive problem.


Chemistries designed for hand-spray application whereby the active constituent would bind to soil particles at the earliest opportunity were sent through pipes and as they migrated through the soil medium, they would be ‘stripped’ from the chemistry to allow only solvents and emulsifiers to continue the migration through the soil medium.


This was only part of a range of problems suffered by chemical reticulation systems.

The Fipronil (Trade Name : Termidor) chemistry was to arrive in the market and this chemistry is probably the best of the chemistries currently available.  It has been banned in some countries as it is possibly to effective and non-discriminatory in what insects it takes out!


Termidor is probably the best remedial treatment chemistry available in the market place.








The advice provided by the TAG is that the ONLY SYSTEM that has the capacity to provide complete Termite Protection for the timber Structural Members of a Building is the Boron Solution’s Tru-Core System.

The further advice is that the TAG Group Co-ordinator has an interest in this product and assisted in having it trialled and tested in the Australian market-place.

In 2008, after having largely accomplished the TAG mission of having attention brought to the need for relevant changes to the Building Codes and Standards, the TAG went about researching a means whereby something that actually worked on termites could be utilised in buildings.

The concept was simple!

Instead of trying to put a supposed barrier between termites and their food, simply make their food inedible!

This was achieved with the boron-based full-infusion treatment that is the only system able to provide a life-time (Fifty Year) comprehensive warranty on a timber house frame.







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