ADDRESSING THE CAROLINA'S TOP PEST CONTROL ISSUE
Did you know that termites cause $5 billion worth of damage and infest more than 600,000 homes every year? To make matters worse, termite damage is usually not covered by home insurance, which means that you’ll have to pay out of pocket for damage that could have been prevented!
In the Carolinas, it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” these Eastern Subterranean termites will find their way to your house. These silent destroyers can and eventually will discover your home’s wooden framing (among other entry points) and can leave you with a significant amount of damage (and a very large repair bill too!). Arm yourself with the information you need to protect your most valuable investment.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or have lived in your home for years, have active termites, or just want to be informed, it’s really important to know what your options are for dealing with termites. There are several scenarios you might find yourself in. For your convenience, we’ll explore each in detail below, so you can understand which treatment options best fit your needs.
What scenario best describes your situation?
First things first – we need to decide which scenario fits your specific circumstances. Use the following chart to identify which category you fall in and what treatment options are available.
I’m building a home
Pre-Construction treatment (“pre-treat”), via:
I purchased a home and it doesn’t currently have termite protection
I purchased a home and the previous owners had termite protection
I own a home that has an active termite infestation
I own a home with no active termite infestation but want termite protection
These are the most common scenarios that a new or existing homeowner could find themselves in related to termites. No matter the scenario, there are always a couple of options to choose from to solve your problem! Understanding each option, based on your current situation, will help you make an educated decision on how you should protect and/or treat your home.
new construction termite options
Often, builders make termite treatment decisions without the involvement of the homeowner or have the treatment applied before the house is under contract. Unless you are building a custom home, your builder likely already has a “go-to” pest control company that they contract with to perform the termite “pre-treat”. What’s important to know is that no matter what the treatment is, the builder can offer you a one-year termite warranty (at a minimum). However, once the first year expires, you’ll want to know what type of treatment was performed so that you know what options you have to extend the original coverage.
A soil treatment is the traditional treatment method for “spec” or “tract” homes but is also used for other types of construction, including custom homes. The most popular product used for these types of soil pre-treats is BASF’s Termidor, a revolutionary termiticide introduced in early 2000. Soil treatments are performed by soaking the ground with the appropriate mixture of termiticide and water. This treatment is applied before the slab is poured and after foundation walls and piers have been formed and laid. It’s important to know that soil treatments will eventually have to be supplemented with another treatment (often referred to as a “booster treatment”), as the effectiveness of the original application will diminish over time.
what if i don't want to soak the ground with termiticide?
A lot of people don’t! Because of that, two additional treatment options are available that are more environmentally friendly: Bora-Care and Termite Bait Stations. Both of these treatment options are also easily renewed and don’t require a booster treatment like a soil treatment would.
- Bora-Care treatments are becoming more and more popular, and are used commonly for custom homes and for additions/renovations. Bora-Care is applied to the home’s structure (i.e., the structural wood, foundation walls, etc) instead of the soil. It works by penetrating deep into timber membranes and remaining there for the lifetime of the wood. Because no termiticides are applied to the ground, the environmental risk is much lower, as the termiticides won’t be able to run off into a water supply when applied correctly. A bonus to Bora-Care is that you can usually renew your warranty with the pest control company that performed your pre-treat! As long as an annual inspection is performed by that company, Bora-Care offers up to a 30-year warranty.
- Installing termite bait stations is the final form of pre-construction termite treatment that can be performed, and is becoming more popular by the day. Using the Trelona Advance Termite Baiting System (ATBS), small capsules are placed in the ground surrounding the structure. Usually placed 12-15 feet apart, these capsules create a barrier around the house and contain 2 blocks of bait for any termites foraging for food near your home. Once these are installed, you can continue your termite coverage by renewing with the pest control company that did the installation and having an annual inspection performed. The replacement of any bait consumed by termites between inspections is typically included in the price of the annual inspection. The solid bait is protected within these capsules, so there is very limited risk to non-targets or of runoff into nearby groundwater. This means the only time the bait leaves the station is due to consumption from a foraging termite, who takes the “food” back to its colony, which is exactly what we want to happen!
active infestation treatments
If you discover active termites on your property, the first step would be to control (or eliminate) them. However, you don’t want to stop there. Even if a relatively small area of your home has been affected, and you decide to treat that specific area (known as a “spot treatment”), the chances of suffering a future infestation are high. Spot treatments are great solutions in the present, but a preventative method in place to reduce and/or eliminate another infestation is highly recommended.
Termite experts typically recommend a liquid spot treatment along with supplemental termite protection. For this supplement, you have two primary options: termite bait stations or a full liquid treatment. Most Remedy customers choose to pair their spot treatment with the installation of bait stations, for some of the reasons highlighted above.
In certain situations, homeowners have the option to just install bait stations as their only termite treatment. The potential downside to this method is that sometimes it takes the termites longer to find and consume the bait, whereas a liquid treatment is directly applied to the active area and takes immediate effect.
why would anyone choose a spot treatment?
Some price-sensitive homeowners lean towards spot treatments because they cost less than a full treatment. However, this spot treatment truly only treats the diagnosed problem areas, and there is a high likelihood that the termites will find another area of the home to attack. Moreover, spot treatments typically have limited warranty terms, if any.
Preventative Termite protection
Of course, some homeowners might not be building a home or have an active termite problem. Some are simply looking for a protection plan to keep their house safe and prevent termite issues from occurring. In these situations, there are two main preventative options: bait stations or a liquid treatment.
As we mentioned before, bait stations are lower maintenance, typically less expensive, and almost always less invasive. They require an annual inspection for active infestations and any consumed bait is replaced. They never require a booster treatment, and therefore, their overall total cost of ownership tends to be lower over the long term.
On the contrary, a liquid treatment requires trenching and drilling, making it slightly more invasive. Like bait stations, liquid treatments require an annual inspection to continue the warranty. However, every so often (usually every 5 years), homeowners will need to get a “booster” treatment to counteract the diminished potency of the termiticide. Over time, the active ingredients in the termiticide degrade and lose their effectiveness. Booster treatments cost more than annual inspections, and in fact, are comparable in price to an initial treatment due to the amount of labor required to perform the treatment.
What if the home i purchased already has a termite warranty or bond?
This is a scenario that has become more common in recent years. Smart homeowners are becoming more educated about the risks associated with termites, and see the value in having termite protection. Buyers and sellers are usually aware that a termite inspection is required in both NC and SC before a home closing, and this brings the issue of termite damage to the forefront. Many pest control companies allow the home seller to transfer the termite contract/warranty to the new home buyer. Usually, there is a small fee to process the transfer, but it’s certainly less expensive than putting a whole new termite protection system in place.
It’s very important to know that (most of the time), you cannot transfer your existing termite coverage from one pest control company to another. Termite contracts/warranties carry a significant amount of liability for pest control companies, and it is very difficult to know, with certainty, how comprehensively the original pest control company performed their last termite treatment. If you feel strongly about switching termite coverage to another company, you will likely need a new treatment, just to be safe (Remedy has come up with some pretty attractive financing options to make this transfer more palatable).
OK, so which option is best for me?
This is completely up to you! Some people prefer liquid- they feel it’s more effective, has been around longer, and is worth the extra money. Others would rather have something more environmentally friendly, less expensive, and less invasive, so they choose bait stations. With either option, there are multiple factors to consider. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a local pest control company or pest control professional with questions.
What type of warranty will I receive with my termite protection?
Regardless of which option you choose, there are two standard warranty types: a retreat warranty and a damage repair warranty. A retreat warranty is more cost-effective, and entitles you to a spot treatment at no additional charge, should termites ever be found on your property. These spot treatments, as explained above, can be effective in treating the active infestation and are regulated by the state to ensure they are performed properly.
A damage repair warranty covers both the spot treatment of termites as well as the repairs for any damage that they cause. A damage warranty is usually twice if not three times the annual cost of a retreat warranty. For this reason, many homeowners find damage repair warranties cost prohibitive. Our general philosophy is that as long as you are having your home inspected on an annual basis by qualified professionals, any termite activity will be identified and treated frequently enough for you to save the additional expense that accompanies these pricey plans.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
The first step is to reach out to a pest control company that you know and trust. Schedule an appointment for a termite expert to come out and perform a full inspection of your home. They’ll make sure there are no signs of active termites and check for conditions that make your home more conducive for a termite infestation. From there, they’ll be able to discuss your treatment options (even though you’re basically a pro after reading this!) and discuss pricing and payment options. Some companies (like Remedy) offer monthly payments for 3- or 5-year terms, which helps alleviate the upfront cost, and ensures a long period of termite protection.
While many DIYers try to figure it out on their own, this is one pest that’s best left to the professionals. Termites are a serious threat to homes in the Carolinas, and they can cause structural damage. Having the right protection can save you (and your home) from costly damage repairs.