Sometimes subterranean termites can cause evidence and damage in areas not normally associated with termites. Loose floor tiles can be a sign of termites, especially in older homes.
Loose floor tiles as a sign of termites can occur by the additional moisture that termites might introduce into a floor. That moisture might cause the tiles to buckle and heave which can lead to the tiles becoming loose. As the tiles age, the adhesive might not be as strong and the introduction of moisture to the backing may cause the adhesive to fail. When this occurs, even the weight of a person on the tile may cause the tile to shift and become loose. Tiles which become loose by moisture causing a failure of the adhesive are typically soft and pliable such as the vinyl tiles which are placed in place after removing the backer tape during construction. Older tiles which might be parquet wood or laminate wood can swell with moisture and cause them to become loose, either by termite activity or leaks. As termites need moisture, leaks or excessive moisture can lead to termite infestation.
Another instance where loose floor tiles as a sign of termites can be observed is in the case of ceramic or porcelain tile. While it might seem extraordinary for this to occur in such heavy tiles, it is not so much moisture as the culprit but the actual termites. When excessive moisture due to a leak soaks into the subfloor beneath the tiles, termites may find the area and may infest the subfloor. As they consume the wood, there is no adequate support for the entire tile and the tiles may come loose or may wobble. So even ceramic or porcelain tiles are not immune the damaging effects of termites.