questionshow do you get rid of termites destroying family…

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Have you called an exterminator for advice? I'm thinking a tent might be the only way to completely destroy all the critters because you sure don't want to accidentally transport them to your house.

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I'm with @ohcheri here. I think you are left high level chemical warfare as your only option.

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Years ago, I used flea bombs with success at getting rid of them in a table that I liked, that had become infested with them. I would be extremely careful in even handling them. As @ohcheri has already reminded you, the last thing you want to do is take them home.

I strongly second getting a professional in, however. Photographs are not the same as a table, and you really run the risk of damaging them.

I'm curious, though. Termites go for wood (and cardboard). I wonder if you've got them stored in cardboard boxes? I'm not speaking of the albums themselves, although I recognize they've probably infested those also. You should start by moving them into plastic containers, now, before the damage gets any worse.

In fact, this goes for ANYONE in an area of the country favored by termites. GET RID OF YOUR CARDBOARD. Cardboard is often known as termite candy. Seriously.

I'll check back later...

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I would have to agree about getting professional help but but I wonder if you put photos in ziplock or food sealer bag and tossed it in the freezer would work? No air and cold temp might kill them. Just a thought I know this work to kill the smell of runners.

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We're definitely planning to tent the house, and trash all of the wrecked furniture - there's just nothing to salvage when termites have done things like entirely hollowed out 2x4 supports on handmade bookcases. I have used this experience to tell my friends who are seeing signs of termites to OMG TAKE CARE OF IT NOW. We're fortunate, I guess, that preliminary inspections show that the house's treated lumber frame is largely undamaged, the little buggers are just destroying trim, furniture, etc.

It's really unclear whether the tent chemicals could damage delicate old photographs. The exterminator we called told us, of course, that the chemicals won't hurt anything in the house besides the termites. I'm not sure I believe that. I also read that people treat delicate things with liquid nitrogen, but haven't found any info on who does this or how it works.

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@shrdlu: The photos are stored in a mixture of albums (which have cardboard-ish covers, and the termites have burrowed through covers, photos, plastic dividers, everything) and those thin cardboard photo storage boxes. It is definitely very clear to me that storing photos in cardboard is dangerous, and not just because of termites - it also increases the risk of water damage. So from here forward, we're getting rid of cardboard.

Obviously, this wasn't something on my grandparents' radar when they started accumulating these photos in the ~1940s. And sadly, it wasn't a concern when the house began to show very obvious signs of termite infestation a decade ago. Now we're sorting photos for my grandfather's funeral and it's heartbreaking to see so many damaged. I see a lengthy Photoshop restoration project in my future...

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@saramwrap: The chemicals that the professional uses will NOT damage your photographs. I have had a house tented in SoCal, and I had thousands of photos, including many from the turn of the century, and none of them showed any problem. Nitrogen, on the other hand, has a real potential to interact with some of the chemicals used in the creation of those old photos. Please don't use that.

I wish my husband were still alive. He knew a lot about this, and would also know resources to help.

There are multiple web sites devoted to old photographs. Once the tenting is over, you might want to check out a few. Restoration is possible on many of these. Too bad about the albums, too. That old black photographic paper that they used to use in photo albums can't be found any longer (I know, I searched high and low a few months ago).

Scan as many as you have patience for, and make notes on everything that you know about. Print them back out. Back them up, too.

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@shrdlu: Thank you so much - that's very reassuring! We do have negatives for quite a few of these photos, which is wonderful, and also multiple copies in different places... so i'm hopeful that we can salvage plenty of these photographs.

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My condolences on your loss. :( I would second the photo restoration websites and the extermination process. I know of no other way to get rid of these creatures. Best of luck to you.

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Freezing is an easy fix, as is vacuum packing- although it won't kill them as fast as freezing. I'm sure a competent exterminator will do a fine job, if you choose to go that route. It's getting the not-so-good one that would be a tragedy, and you won't get a second chance.
Good luck!

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@saramwrap: On a different topic as I know little about photo preservation, if you want to salvage the handmade bookcases, have you considered the injectable foam insulation they use in construction? It"s like the fix-a-flat stuff, you stick the nozzle in and it sprays in as a liquid then rapidly swells up and solidifies to fill the empty space. Here's an article talking about the stuff, I am sure I have seen cans of it at Home Depot and the like.

http://www.tigerfoam.com/PDF-FILES/foam_injection.pdf

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If you need something more rigid, depending on the number of openings you may be able to fill and reinforce the voids with resin. They sell two-part resin at Baker Plastics, I'd imagine they'd have it at most plastics store. Resin starts out as thin as water, so if there are a lot of openings it may be a challenge to seal them all. You will want to pour in water and see where it comes out that needs to be sealed. Small openings (like pinholes) can be sealed with wax or tape. Large openings would need a better seal, you'd have t talk to the plastics guy about what to use. The resin heats up quite a lot during the set-up process, so it will melt wax or tape adhesive over a bigger opening. I use silicone rubber for making molds to create resin sculptures, so that might work.. Once it sets up, it is a hard plastic and will provide any needed reinforcement of the wood.

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I would try using some of the products sold here - http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/termites-c-3.html. These will definitely kill those termites and make sure none of them get transported into your home.. You might also want to consider scanning those old photos, that way you'll have them forever and not have to worry about termite damage to them.