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Pics below.

I had this gouge on some wood paneling. The area inside the gouge seemed to be crumbling, and there was always a pool of sawdust below it. I covered it up with some caulk (brown caulk). And after a long time, today, I again noticed some sawdust below it.

2 Questions:

  • what are your thoughts on what's causing it?
  • what are your suggestions on fixing this? (e.g. if it's termites, then please suggest any ways you know of to get rid of termites --- professional help, or DIY)

Update: House is located in mid-west USA, on the 44N latitude.

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    hard to say ... you need to do some investigating ... pull the board off the wall and look – jsotola Nov 29 '19 at 0:26
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    Where in your house is this located? With the white above it, resembles efflorescence ir cob webs, suggests to me it is wood rot that ants are enjoying the rotten wood. – user68386 Nov 29 '19 at 0:30
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    Looks like termite or carpenter ants to me, but I agree with jsotola – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 29 '19 at 0:34
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    doyourownpestcontrol.com/powderpostbeetles.htm. Possibly powder post beetle – Kris Nov 29 '19 at 2:45
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    I don't see enough information to make a definitive statement. That said, in general: wood doesn't disintegrate on its own, so probably some pest is involved; pests don't attack healthy wood, so there's probably some moisture involved. In the photos, there do appear to be what might be signs of moisture, where the wood is darker in the groove above the damage, on the lower corner of the board to the left of the groove, and maybe even some other spots toward the right of the groove. In any case, it's not normal; you're probably not going to find out what it is w/out taking the wood off. – Peter Duniho Nov 29 '19 at 3:26
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Not termites , may be something called "powder post beetles" ( which I have never seen). Carpenter ants leave coarser sawdust. You should check it out.

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You definitely need to see what is going on behind that panelling. If you can't take out a section (from either side) right now, then consider drilling a hole and using an endoscope camera fitted to your laptop or smart phone, they are available for a few bucks these days.

Agree with Peter above, water usually plays a role in this story somewhere.

My experience is that by the time you see evidence on the 'surface', it's like an iceberg, the vast majority of the damage is done under the surface.

I regularly see panelling which consists of little more than standing paint, and all the wood behind has rotted or been eaten...

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