Termites – What to do When Found
One of my earliest childhood memories is the discovery that termites had taken up housekeeping amongst the Reeves family. When the termite man came to inspect our hallway, his inspection revealed an entire wall whose interior was the consistency of cardboard. He crawled under the house with his tank of potent poisons. We called the carpenter to replace the wallboard.
Every April, unfortunate homeowners will notice piles of silvery termite wings beneath windows. Or they will attempt to hang a picture and send the nail through the wall into an adjoining room with a single blow. Concern, if not outright panic, ensues as they begin the process of deciding what should be done about their termites.
Dr. Beverly Sparks, Extension Service entomologist, has compiled a list of the most frequently-asked questions about termite control. Here are her thoughts:
Q: How soon after I discover termites should I have the infested structure treated?
A: In most cases, termites do not damage a structure rapidly. There is time to make an informed decision. Take time to obtain several opinions – in the long run, it could save you both time and future problems.
Q: Which termiticide should be used to control a termite infestation in my house?
A: There are several products used to control termites. These products are all registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Your company may select from any registered chemical.
Q: Will there be an odor with the treatment?
A: Several registered termiticides contain chemical carriers that may create odors. The odors will usually dissipate within several days. Extremely damp or wet conditions may cause the odor to linger longer. These odors should have little impact on the vast majority of people. If, however, you have any health concerns, you should consult your physician.
Q: How do I know that the person treating my home knows what they are doing?
A: All professional pest control operators must be registered or certified with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Ask to see their Department of Agriculture registration or certification card.
Q: How should I choose a company?
A: Make an informed choice by following these suggestions:
a) Since there can be considerable variations in charges for the same treatment, obtain at least THREE TO FOUR ESTIMATES for the treatment.
b) Contact the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU for information about the companies you are considering.
c) Make sure that you obtain a signed CONTRACT before the work begins.
d) You have the RIGHT TO CANCEL most pest control contracts for up to three business days after signing. There should be a section in the contract explaining this information.
e) If you have concerns as to the status of a company license or employee registration, you may contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture, PESTICIDE DIVISION for additional information.
Q: In a termite contract, what is the difference in a retreatment or control guarantee and a repair guarantee?
A: A RETREATMENT contract is the most frequently issued type of contract. It requires the pest control company to retreat any area where termites are found following the original treatment. It does NOT require any repairs to be performed if the reinfestation has resulted in structural damage. A retreatment contract requires only that the area where termites are found be retreated. The entire structure is not retreated. A RETREAT & REPAIR contract further guarantees that any damage to your home that occurs after the original treatment will be repaired by the pest control company. Some of the repair contracts require that an active infestation must be found to qualify the area for repair. The amount of coverage in dollars should be clearly specified in the contract.
Since October 1996, all contracts must contain a statement at the top of the contract, in specific language, that specifies the type of coverage. This statement must be separated from the rest of the contract by a heavy black line.
Q: Should I receive a graph with the termite contract?
A: A graph of your home (and other treated buildings) noting any past or present termite infestations MUST be provided by the pest control company. The graph serves as a record of the infestations present at the time of treatment. If a repair contract is in force, any termite infestation or termite damage found after the treatment that is not noted on the graph should be covered by the company.
Q: What is the annual renewal fee?
A: To keep your contract up to date an annual renewal fee must be paid. The company usually performs an annual inspection to determine if any termite infestation has occurred.
Q: My contract calls for periodic inspections. What does this mean?
A: If your contract calls for an annual inspection, the company is obligated to inspect the structure around the anniversary of the contract. Some contracts only call for periodic inspections. These contracts do not set an exact time for the inspection. It is EXTREMELY important that the structure be inspected at least once a year. An inspection should take approximately one hour for most homes. A company cannot properly inspect a structure without inspecting the crawl space or basement. If the structure is on a slab, the pest control operator should inspect both the outside AND the inside of the house.