Saturday, May 21, 2016

My sneaky floor eaters

A few months ago, I was ferreting around in my little back cabin scraping up the rust of ages while wonder welder, Tim, was fixing some nice steel plates to the bottom of my barge to pre-empt any possible risk of my stepping through the hull and consigning myself and my home to a watery underworld.

However, what I didn't realise until I started this enterprise was that it wasn't the steel that was in danger of disintegrating; it was the wooden floor on which I was kneeling.

Unbeknown to me, a colony of woodworm, whose predilection for chomping their way through exotic woods of great worth and density (their version of caviar and rump steak) is well documented, had found their way into the hardwood floor of my cabin and had been merrily demolishing it. I say unbeknown, because the floor was covered with carpet, so the little varmints - or should I say 'wormints' - had been having an ongoing feast worthy of a Roman orgy without being detected. Until I put my foot through a certain patch of it, that is.

Well, I didn't really put my foot through it; there was the carpet to save me, of course. But I heard the awful crunching and splintering and realised that it was a lot worse than I'd thought. I'd seen a few little hillocks of sawdust on the steel of the hull and had treated the parts that I could see with cuprinol, but until I ripped up the carpet, I had no idea how far they had gone.

It was amazing. If you've ever seen a honeycomb that's what my floor resembled in this one particular area. Here's a photo of the plank I cut out.

Honeycomb wood

Rather dark, but the offending area

So now comes the tough part. Do I rip the whole floor out? Or do I hope that my now extensive anti woodworm treatment has done the trick of banishing them to worm Hades? Can I just replace the plank that was the object of their extreme attention? My idea is that if I then varnish the floor thoroughly, it might put them off returning. Or am I clutching at straws? 

Well, in the end, I'll have to do what I can afford to do, both time and money-wise.

So maybe it will end up being a compromise (sorry). 

Whatever the case, it's taught me an important lesson. Never cover unvarnished wood without making it easy to check it. Or rather, just never cover an unvarnished floor. Simple isn't it? 

I wish it hadn't taken me fifteen years to learn that lesson as the wormints have had a good many of those to chew their way through numerous planks and I still don't know the real extent of their burrowings. But (and I say this with fingers, toes and thumbs crossed), the rest of the floor feels pretty strong, and since no one but me goes into the back cabin, I'll probably take the chance. Well you would if you were me too...

That said, I now have another 'what if' scenario to add to my well stoked syndrome. But then I'll always find something to worry about, so it might as well be something worthwhile, and I think on this occasion it is. For the time being, the score is still woodworm 1, me 0. I think I'd like to at least make it a draw!


22 comments:

  1. Hi Val - woodworm is a nightmare - I sincerely hope they haven't escaped into other nether regions of the barge - but good luck with being as cautious as you can with the things - and then keeping a regular eye out for wormholes and spots of sawdust ...

    Take care and all the best - Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary...it's a matter of constant vigilance! I need to be on patrol all the time... :)

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  2. Personally I would remove and replace all damaged areas Val. I know that it is time consuming and costly, yet better to be safe than sorry and give the new and old good wood two coats of varnish on both sides.
    Be very careful of what products you use as a preventative for woodworm, for some products are carcinogenic !
    http://www.woodwormtreatment.com/woodworm-control.php

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    1. Thank you so much, Mel. I've read through the website and realise I will have to take more drastic action. Ah well. it's just as well it's a space I am not using much at the moment!

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  3. Oh no ! What a pain! I hope you can sort them out before it gets too expensive.

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    1. Me too, Anne. And yes, it's a real pain :(

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  4. EEEP...we had woodworm in a set of dining chairs we bought fro the Conran Shop..didn't realise till the larvae chewed their way out....nightmare!

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    1. Yes, by that time, the damage has been done, hasn't it?

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  5. Waaaah! Think proper treatment is probably essential in long run, rather than patching up, which could end up costing more.... argh! Poor VP x

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    1. I'm beginning to think you're right.....gulp!

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    2. 'Smoke bomb' from the UK will deal with it throughout the barge cheaply. One of the right size will do it. Let me know if you want to try!

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  6. Makes me realise I've got off lightly with a few cockroaches!

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    1. Childsplay, Jo...cockroaches...okay, I loathe them too, in fact they make me shudder, but at least they aren't destructive - as far as I know :)

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  7. Oh, so sorry, Val! Interesting, too. I had never seen woodworm damage. It looks much like termite damage which we get in the U.S. Termites even eat books in libraries. As for your problem...what a perplexing solution to figure out. You will, however. You're a winner!

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    1. Thanks for your confidence, Steph! I probably will, but it needs a bit more head scratching before I can sort it out properly!

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  8. What a dreadful surprise and disappointment, Val. It's an advantage, then, of more modern boats like ours (c. 2000) that the floors are often made of high-density, marine chipboard. This demands a carpet, there's no possibility of showing it off unadorned. But woodworm can't stomach it!

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    1. That is very very interesting, Roger! Thank you so much for that piece of information. I am now very tempted to replace the whole floor as I'd hate the old panelled cupboards to be invaded. Luckily, they are varnished and haven't been attacked (yet), but a chipboard floor could well be the answer. Thank you again!

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  9. Terrific blog, Val, I do sympathise. We bought a brand new cabinet which we later found was riddled with woodworm. It took us ages to get rid of them!

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    1. Oh Beth, how awful! A new cabinet too? That must have been a nightmare. I believe they can lie dormant for up to five years. Thanks so much for commenting!

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  10. How awful. I showed this to Pete and he agreed with Mel that you should get rid of it all before they rear their ugly little heads again. I hope you get it sorted soon xxx

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    1. I'm sighing, Fran, but I know you are right. It's just so much work! xxx

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  11. I have always heard that the advice is to treat surrounding areas just as thoroughly, because the little varmints just move along. But if it is just you perhaps you don't need to worry. The only concern would be if it got into the structure of the boat, but I expect that is steel isn't it? I don't know if varnish helps. The worms got through some black victorian varnish on our floor. Nothing can get the stuff off, but they could eat through it!

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