If you have a very big house and termites infest it, your property will be highly damaged. Termite fumigation is one of the most expensive yet the most effective ways of getting rid of termites in case of a large infestation.
This article describes the process, the costs associated with the procedures, safety of using this method and cleaning up after tenting
What is termite Fumigation? Is it necessary?
Also referred to as termite tenting, termite fumigation is a process which involves sealing of your home using tarps and letting in a fumigant which eliminates any termites present.
It involves killing of termites using a poisonous gas. Vikane is the fumigant which in most cases is released into the structure to kill termites.
When the professional fumigating your house introduces the fumigant into the sealed structure, it circulates all through the house ensuring it gets into any cracks and crevices.
When termites inhale the fumigant, they are deprived of oxygen and this causes their nervous system to fail and they suffocate to death.
When the fumigation expert is through with the process and is certain all the termites have been exposed to the fumigant, he or she removes the termite fumigation tent.
Upon removal of the tarps, the fumigant disperses into the air and should be given a minimum of 6 hours to totally aerate the house.
It is not until the expert carries out a test on each room to ensure the fumigant is totally gone that you can get into the house.
Most people do not like their homes being fumigated probably because of the procedures involved and the need to vacate homes for several hours.
However, there are cases where fumigation is necessary especially if you want to eliminate termites for good. Below are some of the cases which necessitate termite fumigation;
- In the United States, most people who apply the fumigation process are those whose homes have been attacked by dry wood termites. If your entire house is infested with dry wood termites, it will be very difficult to apply any other technique and be confident that all termites are gone.
- Dry wood termites hide in places other termite elimination methods may not reach. Apart from hiding in furniture, dry wood termites all hide in clothing, dry wall and on the floor; among other areas. Fumigation process will be effective here as it ensures the poisonous gas penetrates even the smallest spaces of your house.
- Apart from that, where the infestation to be treated has covered a very large area, termite fumigation will be economical as compared to other methods which cover only a small infested part at a time.
How long does Fumigation last?
Termite fumigation process takes an average of two to three days. This will depend on the level of infestation as well as the size of your house.
Once the termite fumigation process is done, the termites that were in the house will all be killed. Although the termites do not die immediately, they will eventually die before the two or three days are over.
Termite tenting kills termites but does not prevent future infestations. This is considered to be one of the drawbacks that come with this method of termite treatment.
Termite Tenting Cost?
Termite tenting is one of the most expensive termite treatment methods. The average termite fumigation cost is $1200 to $2500 in the case of house of 1250 square foot.
For a 2500 square foot house, the cost is slightly higher and is around $2200 to $3800.
This cost however varies depending on several factors with the main one being the size of your house.
If your house is very big, you expect that you will pay more money for the treatment. This is usually because, not only will the chemicals used be more but also the work done is more when compared to treating a small house.
The level of infestation is a determinant of how much you will incur in the tenting process. So much of the chemicals have to be used if an old termite infestation is to be terminated. A new infestation will be cheaper to fumigate.
Another major factor is the company you are working with. Some Termite treatment companies are more expensive than others. You are advised to always compare the available company prices alongside their charges.
You could also look at reviews from people who had their houses fumigated for termites by different companies.
Tenting a house for termites-Preparation & process
Before beginning the fumigation process, the professional will require you to do some preparation so that you make it easy for him to complete the process successfully. Below are some of the things he requires you to do;
Get somewhere to stay
For the process to be a total success, it may take between 24 to 72 hours depending on the size of the house. For those hours, you must stay away from your home since the chemicals used as fumigants are very harmful to your health.
Keep inner doors between rooms open
If your entire house is infested with termites, you must allow for the fumigant to get into all the rooms.
Even though the poisonous gas used in the process can penetrate into the room under the locked doors, it will be faster and more effective if you allow the penetration of the gas to be through the entire door. A bigger portion of the room will be covered in a shorter time.
Ensure your food is sealed
Put the food in containers to avoid the exposure to the fumigant. You are actually advised to take the food with you when you leave.
If that is not possible, you should ensure the containers in which you store the food are airtight such that no chemicals can penetrate through.
Cover any cracks
Once the chemicals are released into your house, it should stay without escaping through any openings.
This is only possible if you cover any openings on the walls of your house that you may have seen in the past. The professional will also help you trace any other cracks that may let out the gas.
Secure pets and any house plants
The chemicals used in fumigation will destroy any living thing that is left in the house.
Take your pets with you and cover up any plants too close to your house to avoid any harm that maybe caused by the fumigation chemicals.
Create space in your house
You are required to organize your house in such a manner that the professionals fumigating your house can move freely when setting up the tent.
Remove the antennae and satellite dishes
Since the tent will be set such that it covers your house from outside, the satellites and antennae are likely to be broken. They may also be a hindrance to those setting up the tent so ensure you remove them.
Chemicals and other tools used
Vikane and Zythor are the two main fumigants used in the tenting process. They are not detectable by people during the fumigation process since they are colorless and odorless. These fumigants do not cause any staining, they are non-flammable and non-corrosive.
Chloropicrin, the warning agent released before the fumigant is a colorless liquid that has a very strong odor. When used at low concentrations, it causes tearing of the eye.
This is why it will definitely reveal if there are any people or pets that are still in the house before the fumigator releases the other chemicals.
Apart from the chemicals, the fumigator needs the tents and a hose to channel the chemicals into the tented house.
He or she will also be equipped with chemical detectors which will be used in the end as an assurance that there are no chemicals left in the house. Below are some of the equipment used;
It measures the levels of fumigant concentration when the termite tenting process is ongoing.
They detect any gases that may be leaking from the treatment area.
It is used by the fumigator before he lets you in so that he checks for extremely low concentrations of the chemicals.
When you are through with preparation and the professionals have all necessary tools and chemicals ready, they follow the following steps to complete the fumigation process;
- The professionals ascertain once more that your home is indeed infested with termites after which they proceed with the work. The first step involves securing your house or home area by locking all entry ways and putting up warning signs that people should not come close to your home.
- The fumigator, who must be licensed, then uses large tarps to tent your home. To secure the tarps along the foundation of your house, the fumigator uses long ‘sand snakes’.
- The fumigator ensures the tarps are well sealed before releasing chloropicrin which goes in as a warning sign that the fumigant is going to be introduced.
- Using a special hose, the fumigator introduces the fumigant from a fumigant cylinder usually kept outside your house.
- Based on the size of the home, the fumigant is left in the structure for a range of 24 hours to 48 hours. In some few cases, it is left for 72 hours.
- Once the process is complete and the fumigator has given sufficient time for the chemicals to kill the termites, he now aerates your house. After the fumigator is certain your house is free of any chemicals, he allows you back to the house.
Using Vicane Fumigant
Safety & Health Risks
The chemicals used in the fumigation process are very dangerous. This is however in the case where they are used in high concentrations.
In case you or your pets get exposed to high concentrations of the fumigants, you may lose your life.
You are therefore advised to follow all the instructions given by the fumigator.
If you are asked to stay away from your house for two days, stay away since that is good for your health. The fumigators are very careful and they ensure that no person is exposed to the chemicals.
To ensure no person is in the house, the safety measure that fumigators use is releasing the chloropicrin which causes tearing; as mentioned above .Any person or pet in the house that gets exposed to it will definitely get out.
What to do after Tenting-Cleaning
After the fumigation process, there are things you need to do as soon as you move back to your house. Below are some of the requirements after termite fumigation;
- Keep your doors and windows open as often as possible to allow for any chemicals that may still be there to escape.
- Wash all your clothes to free them of any chemical remains.
- Wash all utensils even those that were sealed. Remember you do not want to take chances of getting exposed to deadly chemicals.
- Clean or wipe all doors, floors, windows, countertops and shelves to remove any chemical residue.
- After some weeks, you can invite back the fumigator to confirm the success the process in eliminating all the termites.
Dealing with ants after Termites Fumigation
One of the things that most termite treatment companies may not tell you is that, after termite fumigation, some insects may suddenly show up.
The most common insects that are seen around the house after the termite tenting process are ants. Ants invade your house at that particular time so that they can feed on the dead termites.
The ants will stay in the galleries that were formerly infested with termites and will only leave once they are certain all the dead termites are cleaned up.
If you wish to keep these ants way, therefore, you should do the cleanup job yourself and ensure ants have nothing to feast on. If the ants are stubborn, you can use ant killer.
Best way to get rid of termites without Tenting
There are many other methods that can be used to eliminate termites other than termite tenting. They have been discussed widely in most of the other articles and they include the following;
- Using spraying such as boric acid spray
- Termite baiting stations such as using sentricon termite baiting systems
- Natural remedies, for example, use of neem oil, orange oil, nematodes or aloe vera juice
- Freezing is another method used to kill termites
- Exposing termites to heat
- Use of chemicals such as arsenic dust, and permethrin dust
All these methods are effective but you must ensure that the choice you make on which method to use is not only effective but also economical.
Always remember that some methods require a backup since when used alone they are not effective.
Moreover, some methods are better when used for a small scale infestation than a large scale infestation.
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