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Microwaves to destroy termites in wood

Discussion in 'Project Construction Technologies' started by micromicromicro, Feb 7, 2019.

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  1. micromicromicro


    Feb 7, 2019
    Hi. This is my first post and I am no expert in this field so please be patient. I simply had the idea that since microwave ovens heat molecules and if I'm correct moist objects, perhaps it would be possible to build an apparatus that when placed very close to wood with termites would literally fry the termites and most importantly their eggs inside the wood. I imagine a kind of directional open microwave machine.
  2. ChosunOne


    Jun 20, 2010
    Very quick uick Google search: Apparently microwave and high voltage technology is somewhat effective only with "drywood", which I assume is wood with a low water content. From a quick scan, it looks like it's only effectively used in tropical areas like south Florida and southern California. I didn't pursue the search far enough to find specific equipment, but it's apparently been in use for some time.
  3. Cannonball


    May 6, 2017
    This would be great if it would work and not to be dangerous to humans!
    davenn and ChosunOne like this.
  4. ChosunOne


    Jun 20, 2010
    Good point. I suspect that it would be easy to build or adapt an existing microwave generator that would kill termites in wood. I also suspect that it could ignite some wood in the right circumstances, and could leave it smoldering quietly inside walls, but I don't know about that. I didn't delve into real research on the subject, although if the OP is going to pursue the idea, I recommend some serious research on its hazards.

    I do know from my own experience with very low power microwave detectors that microwaves are reflected by metal. This is one of the biggest reasons MW motion detectors were so prone to false alarms: Any metal surfaces in their coverage area would reflect the MW outside the coverage area, right through, e.g., drywall, glass, or wood walls.

    So MW strong enough to kill insects, directed into walls, floors, and ceilings, could be reflected back by hidden wiring, pipes, various metal plates, nails & screws and whatnot within the walls, back out to anybody in the immediate vicinity. If you aim it at a wall with a large mirror on the other side of the wall, most of the MW radiation could be reflected back at you. Cooked brains, anyone?

    There's a reason that MW ovens have not-easily-accessible switches on their doors so the oven can't be powered unless the door is shut and all the MW radiation contained. If those switches could be easily bypassed, some redneck idiot would turn him/herself into a vegetable sooner than later.

    Not sure, but I believe you have to be a licensed (presumably trained) professional to buy microwave "pest control" equipment. I don't know if there's any law against making it yourself if you want to risk zapping yourself and/or your family. It's not something I'd want to play with, which is why I didn't pursue the research further.
  5. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    Ants invaded my kitchen and microwave one night so first thought was zap them.
    Placed a cup of water in the microwave for a load and gave it 1 minute.
    Water heated and ants still ran around merrily like nothing happened. ( go figure)

    Of course they did glow in the dark after that.:rolleyes::rolleyes:
  6. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

    Aug 11, 2014
    Good idea, and good replies but it's understandable to me why its seldom used.

    Termites are attracted to damp soft wood thats easy to chew through. If you microwave those damp areas you will not only cook the termites but the surrounding damp wood with them. Added to that, the metal nails that will get even hotter, (perhaps red hot) so you've got a recipe for a fire.
    As much as we hate termites, we should hate the idea of something smoldering inside our wood walls even more.

    Imo, if you've got termites you've probably already dropped the ball by letting the moisture in by poor maintenance and thus inviting the creepy crawlers in.
  7. FuZZ1L0G1C


    Mar 25, 2014
    Agree re hazards as mentioned.
    Maybe time to hire a pest-control company.
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