So now you have to pick what type of treatment to use to kill the termites that are eating your home. Lots of decisions, questions and concerns. I'm going to break this down into a few simple groups. I'm going to focus on three types of treatments that most everyone has heard of and company's use. Yes there are more but this is about results not cool ways of destroying your home. All of these opinions are mine. No one pays me to lean more towards their product then another. I like what works the best and what stands up to my high standards.
Baiting is marketed as a green treatment. All those who are worried about chemicals being injected into the ground run to this... At first. Most run away after using it. I was involved with the testing before this went mainstream many moons ago. The idea is good. To have a wood rod in the ground 24/7 waiting for termites to attack it. Here is the problem. Let's just say that we live in a perfect world and your exterminator will check each one of your stations each time they come out. Well if termites are in one of these stations, the only way to tell is to pull it out of the ground. Now, what you see are termites, damaged wood and a happy exterminator who feels like they just caught a big fish. What you don't see is the termite solider a still in the soil sealing up the tunnels to the wood station and marking it with a chemical pheromone telling all termites to avoid this area. The exterminator then puts a bait material into the hole where the termites were. A month or so later the exterminator returns and pulls it back out and no termites. They say see it worked the termites are all gone. You both hug and go about your lives as if everything is okay. Meanwhile, back in reality the termites are still there and still eating your home. Now some may say that they have seen the termites eating the bait system and it does work. Okay let's go there. I'm sure that the bait does work in the lab. I'm sure that there are cases out there that it has somehow worked. Dow, the company that makes sentricon the leading bait sold in America internally admits that it's only effective 3% of the time used in the field. They never release any data to the public ever. I just went to a training seminar last month for BASF. They have a new bait that they are pushing. There data states that 1-termite eating termite bait of any kind can kill up to 20 other termites. Not bad. The material I use, 1- termite kills 50,000. BASF also said if live termites are found inside or outside, that a liquid treatment should be performed immediately. Well if the bait is so good why not let it do its job. The answer is because it won't. Ants are a big issue for bait stations. Ants eat termites. Ants live in termite bait stations. Termites won't go into them if ants are in them. Most exterminators don't understand the biology of the ant and think if they treat for the ants outside or next to the station the ants will go away. The issue is ants will bring the treatment back to the station where they live. Now the station is repelling the termites. Every year I have new customers that beg me to remove the bait system they have and solve their problem. Look it's your home do what you want but this is not the way to go about a termite solution. It's not even the safest treatment out there. The signal word "Caution" is on the label. You have to wear gloves to handle it. It can cause serious health issue If not used properly. Average cost for a single family home is $1800 plus yearly maintenance fees. This system requires high maintenance and someone who isn't lazy monitoring them.
Repellents are those smelly nasty chemicals we all remember as a kid. They are injected into the ground and holes are drilled into your walls and floors. Believe it or not this is still done today by many companies. It's cheap. The theory is that the material gives off an offensive odor which the termites don't like. They are supposed to leave that area. The problem is, that no one knows what's in the ground. There may be a rock underground that redirects the material away from the area of concern. Clay soil is tough on this. Experience and research has shown that termites can actually bridge the barrier by bring in untreated soil to form a bridge through the repellent. Termites can get in a crack the size of the thickness of a piece of paper. You have to be perfect 100% every time with this stuff. It stinks and kills everything like fish, bees, birds etc. It only lasts a few years at best and you never address the actual termite colony. It just pushes them back for a little while until it wears out. Average cost for a single home is $700.00. A lot of fly by night companies use this. Buyer beware!!!
Now we're are getting into the professional stuff. The idea behind non repellents is that the termites don't know it's there. You don't have to be perfect in the application, meaning rocks that you can't see, don't matter. There are only two non-repellents that are worth talking about. Altriset and Termidor. Period. The rest have issues. This is where you want to be unless you are a termite. Termidor is fantastic if applied the right way. Most and I mean most company's use the lower rate of 0.06%. That's fine but I never understood why. The customer is paying for a really good treatment, why not use 0.125% and give them what they are paying for and the results are 100% at this rate (I know why they don't $$$). Termidor is your best choice if you have a company that understands how it works and has a dedicated system to apply it and I would demand 0.125% all the way around your home. Anything less is cutting corners. The great thing about Termidor is that it kills ants like nothing else. If you have termites and ants this is your material! Another non-repellents that has change the termite industry is Altriset. If you are a person concerned about the environment or the materials that go around your home, well this is for you. I use this for people who are really concerned about chemicals or a termite situation that is so bad that it requires immediate results. Altriset Attucks the enzymes found in the muscles of termites only. Nothing else. Nothing. You can spill it in the bay and nothing will happen. It won't harm fish, birds, bees, earthworms or any other living thing. Only termites. These guys a DuPont really took this to another level. It starts to work in two hours, yes I said two hours. If you have termites eating your home and you want it to stop today this is the material for you. Notice it doesn't even have a signal word on the label. It doesn't need any precautionary statements. This is the only termiticide that can do this. Both non repellents come with a ten year manufacturer’s warranty. You should still have an annual warranty with your exterminator. Average cost for a single family home for Termidor is $2200.00 and for Altriset $2700.00.
This has been me being very straight forward with you. I've been doing this for a while and have seen a lot. I have never seen a poor company do a poor job cheaply and it solve a termite problem. Cut corners try to save and you get what you pay for. This isn't the place to go cheap, it's your home. I hope this helps one person then I will be happy. If you disagree with me, great good luck I'll see you soon.
So, now you have had several inspections performed and a good idea where your termite issues are. Most people don't have inspections performed while all deciding principles are home at the same time. It's important that just after the inspection was performed that you write down notes pertaining to that company.
As questions like:
Rate each one from 1-10. Compare notes with your other decision maker. Go over each of the proposals. Write down what you like and what you don't like. Again rate them 1-10. You should then have a pretty good idea as to which company you are leaning towards.
Once you have your top company worked out call them and ask for references. Actually call them. Ask how the proposal was different from the actual work performed. Were there any changes? How was the follow up? Would they recommend this company for you to use?
Now, the Internet is tricky. When you are researching a company, make sure it's the one in your area. Lots of pest control companies have the same name but are not related to each other. Don't rely on the "Better Business Bureau" for truly accurate reviews. Customer reviews are the best way to go. Read the good ones and the bad ones. It's hard to make everyone happy but a bad review can be positive if you can see how the company responds to it.
After this has been performed, it's time to make a decision.
Now it's time to schedule you treatment. Make sure that you schedule your service for a day you will be home. This is very important. You need to make sure that you are getting what you paid for. Watch them. Let them know you are watching them. Ask them questions. You’re not an expert but by now you have a basic understanding about termites and treatments for them.
Tip: Make sure it isn't going to be raining the day of the treatment. If it is, reschedule.
Everyone has heard of termites and at least knows someone who has a story about them. The story is never good. It's one of those things that we never think about until it happens then we wonder, "Why me". Termites are just about everywhere in the world. There are different types of termites in different parts of the world. Here in the USA, we deal with about three species. Around North Carolina and north we deal with eastern subterranean termites, which will be the focus of this blog.
Eastern subterranean termites live in the soil. The move freely underground foraging looking for food. They are an important part of the Eco system tasked with breaking down wood. The way I like to visualize it is, you see ants all the time running about all over the ground. Well, termites do the same thing but under the ground.
Termites eat the sugar in wood called cellulose. It's found in all wood types. An average colony can eat a standard 2x4x8 in a year. The problem is they don't just focus on one stud then move to the next one. They damage several at a time. Termites damage wood slowly, but move very quickly, building shelter tubes at a rate of an inch and a half per hour. The shelter tub is made from surrounding material and mud. They use it for protection from sun light, air, predators and turn it into a super highway. I have seen some shelter tubes as large as my wrist. Most shelter tubes are the diameter of a #2 pencil.
Oh yes, I know. Your house is okay. You know you don't have termites because it made of brick and you have it inspected when you bought it. You can stop reading now and just go to the end where my phone number is. You’re going to need it. Now, for everyone else, it doesn't matter what your house is made of outside. Stone, brick, steel, concrete, treated lumber, EFIS, stucco or any other type. Having a metal termite shield at your sill plate won't help either. Termites can build that mud tube over anything. They come up under the slab or footer of your home and forage until they find wood. Almost all homes in this area still use wood studs. If you use metal studs great. Drywall has cellulose in it, which isn’t good. Your inspection you had back when you bought the house was only effective for 30-days. The pre-treatment you had performed by the builder when you had your home built at best lasts 1-2 years tops. I know it's guaranteed for five years. Good luck with that.
So. With all this good news, what do you do? First thing is to relax. You need to have a termite inspection performed. It should be free and I will give you some tips. Do not call a large company like Terminix, Orkin, Western, Ehrlich or Home Paramount. They send out sales people with little to no experience of termites and their only goal is to sell you something. Ask around. We all have a network of neighbors, friends and family. See who's using who and if they are happy.
TIPS FOR SCHEDULING YOUR TERMITE INSPECTION
When they arrive they should ask you a few questions like:
POST INSPECTION TIPS
What questions should you ask?
If you have termites I would schedule one or two more inspections with other companies. I wouldn't do more than three. You will start to confuse the treatments and programs between them. Next week I will discuss how to select the right treatment and company.
Termites are a very serious pest issue. They cause more damage than all fires, storms and floods combined. Over $5 billion in damages a year. So do you want to try to perform the inspection or have a professional perform it? It's your home.
Imagine a tiny termite worker eating your home. It's half the size of a grain of rice. It isn't out in the open saying, "Hey look at me I'm over here"! It hides deep inside the wood stud or support beam quietly going about its life. Hidden even further behind your drywall, paint and the book shelf.
So, who do you call? What do you say? First, I would ask friends and family who they have used and if they were happy with the experience. Termite inspection are usually free. And you should have one performed at least once a year. If it were my house I would have three companies come out until I found one I really liked and TRUSTED. You’re looking for someone who spends most of their time inspecting and answering your questions instead of trying to sell you a plan of some sort. Call three companies and simply say you’re looking to have a termite inspection. They may ask if you are selling your home, say no, unless you are. A termite inspection for the sale of your home costs money and is only good for thirty days.
Thermal imaging is the most advanced way to inspect a home for termites. The imager detects faintest heat signature behind the walls. Termites maintain a constant 86° environment. The imager can also help see water issues, which are a conducive condition to termites. Ask your inspecting company to use a thermal imager for the best results. Buyer beware of the inspector that shows up with just a screwdriver.
Make sure you have the time to walk around with the inspector inside and outside during their inspection. It's important because if the inspector finds termites you want to see them. The termites will cop into the soil and disappear before you get to the spot the inspector found them. If shelter tubes are found ask the inspector not to disturb them. You want to see if the other companies found them. If they are removed they are impossible to see unless damage has accrued.
Don't panic. Termites damage slowly. It is important you take your time and select the right company or you will be doing it again, I promise. Make sure you fully understand the companies approach for your solution. Don't take their word for it. Take notes like, what material are they using and at what percentage rate. Every material has a clean out rate and a maintenance rate. You want the clean out rate, will they drill and if so where, how long is the warranty for. The material may last up to ten years. That's not your warranty! You want to know how long your warranty is with the company. Typically its one year with an annual renewal. How much is the renewal and what does it cover and what does it NOT cover.
The top three materials used for termite treatments, in order:
Try to stay away from the larger well know companies unless you like being just a number. Stay with locally owned and operated companies. I would ask for referrals and actually call them. Again this is your home. Don't go with the guy who's the cheapest. Go with the guy who is going to do it right the first time. Trust your gut.
For more information, or to schedule your free thermal home scan, call our office at 1-866-930-4282 and make us one of your three companies.
Feel free to leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page, and as always, if you have questions feel free to contact me directly. I like helping people.
Bryan W. Guderjohn
ATC Termite & Pest Control - CEO
Also, learn how to tell the difference between flying ants and termites
Bryan Guderjohn, CEO for ATC Termite & Pest Control. This is where I will share with you my thoughts and experiences from my 25+ years of expertise in pest control.
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