Termites 101

Have you found what you suspect to be termites or termite damage?

DON’T PANIC! Call a professional to investigate!

This professional should be a licensed Pest Management Consultant or Commercial Pesticide Applicator or Termite Technician with category 7D, Wood Destroying Pest Control. He or she will have a NMDA license to show you. You can also look them up here or email NMDA to verify someone’s qualifications.

How to Select a Pest Control Company

  • Make sure the individual is licensed with NMDA. A list of commercial applicators and consultants is available on our web site or you can email us or telephone 575-646-2134. NMDA cannot recommend any particular individual or company, but we can let you know if they are licensed and if they’ve had issues in the past.
  • Check with several companies before hiring one. Ask questions about their experience and training in the pest management business, what areas and pests the inspection will include, how much it will cost, what should be done at the home before the inspection, and for how long the inspection findings are guaranteed.
  • If you need help deciding, you can also ask the company for references and check them. Find out who will be performing the inspection and how long they have been licensed. Any company should be willing to spend the time to provide you with this kind of information.
  • Get at least two or three quotes. Good communication with the company representative is essential to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding about the inspection or the services offered.

Are you buying or selling a home?House Pic 1

While you can look for signs of termite infestation or damage, an official termite inspection performed by a licensed professional is often a condition of any residential real estate transaction. Anyone performing termite inspections must be licensed with NMDA as a Pest Management Consultant (if they only do inspections) or a Commercial Pesticide Applicator or Termite Technician (if they do both inspections and treatment). These licensed professionals will know the vulnerable areas and how to look for and access any pest activity found, and in any type of home construction, including slab foundations. However, buyers and sellers can do some things to ensure they are getting the best inspection and not wasting anyone’s money.

During the Inspection

  • You may want to request to be present during the inspection.
  • Review the report carefully to make sure it’s thorough as to all areas inspected or noted to be inaccessible.
  • Make sure inspections include both the interior and exterior of the structure; (Some companies include fences or other structures on the property, some do not)
  • Inspections should be as complete as possible but can be less than accurate if furniture or other items prevent inspection of areas of the home, garage, attic, crawlspace, or exterior
  • Make sure as much as possible is accessible for inspection by moving furniture away from walls, clearing out under sink cabinets, and allowing access to crawlspaces, attics, plumbing and electrical chases, etc.
  • The exterior of the home should be thoroughly inspected for signs of termite tubing, damage, or conditions conducive to termite infestation.
  • A good inspector will use more than just visual observations; he may “sound” the walls and floors to detect any areas which sound hollow as well as feel for any moisture, areas which give way when touched, or other indications of possible damage or infestation.House Inspection 1

Treatment Options
Conventional soil treatment with a liquid termiticide is the most common. A termiticide is injected into the soil using low pressure to provide a barrier around your home’s foundation. The type of foundation (slab – either monolithic, floating, or supported; crawl space; basement) will determine the areas and methods of treatment. Techniques may include trenching and rodding into the soil and drilling holes through the floor to inject termiticide under the foundation. Areas treated may include the perimeter of the foundation, all plumbing penetrations, pier supports, cracks in the slab, expansion joints, or any place where termites might enter the home. Treatment methods and areas will vary from home to home.

Another treatment option is baiting. This involves placing monitoring stations in the ground around a home. When termites are detected in a station, its attractant bait is replaced with an insecticidal bait. Termites bring this bait back to their colony where it begins to kill other termites who consume it. This method is still relatively new compared to conventional liquid treatments but provides an alternative under some conditions.

In conjunction with treatment, conditions around the home that are conducive to termites should be fixed. Things like wood in contact with soil next to the home (like firewood stacked against the house), stucco that extends below the soil grade, brick veneer that has separated from exterior walls, excess moisture in a crawl space, leaking plumbing fixtures, and heavy landscaping right next to the foundation all provide avenues for termites to invade your home. You may be able to fix some of these problems yourself.

Once you have several bids, look at each one carefully.  Don’t let anyone push you to decide immediately.  If you have questions about the recommended treatments, please feel free to contact NMDA. If available, an inspector can be on-site during a treatment to ensure it is proper and according to label directions.

Remember…When considering your termite control option

  1. Take your time
  2. Gather as much information as you can
  3. Find a licensed pest management professional you feel comfortable with
  4. Make sure they explain their procedures so you understand what they will do
  5. Get bids and warranties in writing
  6. When the treatment is finished get a complete record of it, including what chemical was used, how much was used, and exactly where it was applied.

Interpreting the Report
Most inspection companies utilize the National Pest Management Association Form (“NPMA-33″), but it’s not required and some companies have their own forms. Whatever the form, a good report will include:

  • A scale drawing of the home with any activity or damage clearly marked on the drawing.
  • Notes about the home’s construction (e.g., basement, crawlspace, slab and foundation).
  • Information about any structural conditions that are conducive to termites and should be corrected (e.g. moisture problems or wood-to-ground contact).
  • Explanations of any features that could complicate termite treatment (e.g. water features, wells, and plenum air conditioning/heat systems).
  • Any signs of previous treatment. If there are drill holes or other signs of earlier termite treatment, the current owner should be asked about the treatment and any possible warranty transfer.
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