Monday, 26 December 2016

Termites - The High Risk Areas

Termites can hit you when you least expect it. The damage they can do could be massive. Regular inspection and termite control by a professional company is the best way to keep your home safe. The best ones will offer you a warranty on their services. Doing your own inspection and checks regularly can add another level of protection. After all, you know your home better than anyone else and so are best placed to spot any changes that could signify a termite infestation. Checking all the wooden parts of the home and the furniture is good, but paying special attention to the high risk areas is important. Here are the parts of your home that you should pay particular attention to when looking for signs of termites.

The Outside

Subterranean termites prefer damp wood. Overflowing gutters and downspouts on the exterior of a building can lead to moisture collecting near the foundation. Reducing the collection of moisture will reduce the chances of termites being attracted to the building. Keeping the gutter clean and free flowing and directing water away from downspouts with dry wells and/or extensions will help in this.

Utility Pipes

The opening in floors and foundations through which utility pipes run are a common entry point for termites. Any water leaks from these pipes will cause dampness to develop and this, if it affects nearby wood, will draw in termites. Leaking bath traps and water dripping from air conditioning drains could also cause pools of water to develop, creating a termite breeding ground.

Mulch And Wood Chips

Wood chips and mulch are useful in the garden. These are both ideal food sources for termites. Mulch should be stored as far away as possible from the siding or foundation of the home as termites that collect there will soon migrate into the structure. The places where mulch and wood are stored should also be regularly inspected for signs of termites. Do not allow scrap wood to collect in crawl spaces. If firewood is stored indoors, it should be placed on a platform so that it is a few inches above any contact with the floor or ground. Even then termites can build mud tubes to allow them to reach the wood, but these are relatively easy to spot so early action can be taken to get rid of them.

Crawl Spaces

Crawl spaces are where dirt and moisture collect. Inspecting and cleaning these areas out regularly can be a pain, but by doing so, the chances of termite nests developing there are greatly reduced.

Termites have been around since before man walked on the planet. They will probably still be around when after human cease to exist. That does not mean that infestations and damage are inevitable. A little care can go a long way in protecting your home, which is the center of your family’s life. While using a professional termite control service is the best way to protect it, doing your own checks will add to the level of protection.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Termites for Lunch?

No one wants termites anywhere near their homes. They are destructive pests and need to be exterminated as soon as they are detected. But just because you don’t want them around doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know a little about them. They have been here for millions of years, are social creatures and, in some parts of the world, are a great culinary delicacy.

Termites Knew the Dinosaurs

Termite fossils have been found that can be dated back to the Cretaceous period, which occurred, around 145 to 66 million years ago. That was the time that dinosaurs roamed the earth. So they have a pedigree that goes a very long way back in time. Some early termite species are thought to have had a more varied diet than those we see today. Traces of termites have been found in dinosaur bones of the mid-Jurassic period, which indicates that they also ate flesh and bone. Termites are not unique in their long history – grasshoppers, ants and aphids are thought to also go back to the Cretaceous period.

They Have Friends and Relatives

Termites are social creatures that live in organized colonies. In many ways, they are like ants and bees in that they have a social structure and produce offspring who are born to carry out specific duties in the colonies, in which they live. As for their relatives, they are thought to be related to cockroaches. Their biology is similar. For example, both cockroaches and termites have specialized cases that enclose their eggs and the structure of their heads is also similar.

You Will Find Them Everywhere

Over the millions of years of their existence, termites have spread across the globe. In fact, they are to be found on every continent, except Antarctica. They are in every state of the U.S.A, with the exception of Alaska. There are 50 different species of termites in North America, but only 10 are to be found in Europe. Africa has nearly 1,000 species of termites and in South Africa’s Kruger National Park there are an estimated 1 million-plus termite mounds.

They are Delicious

Many cultures consume termites. This is not always out of necessity because other forms of food are in short supply. In Africa, a winged form of termite forms a major part of the diet of some tribes. The ways of preparing the termites varies from region to region, but those who eat them usually consider them to be a delicacy. Many species do have a high nutritional value and some have a pleasing nutty flavor. Queen termites are considered to be a special delicacy.

Since You Don’t Eat Them

Since you don’t eat them, you don’t want termites near you. The best way to keep your home safe from termite infestation is to use a professional termite control company to do regular inspections and if colonies are found, then have them removed. Amateur efforts are rarely as successful, in comparison to the professional expertise, as with amateur DIY, these pests usually soon return.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Subterranean Termite Treatment

Nobody wants termites in their home. Most people are under the impression that termites only attack woodwork, plants and trees that are above ground.  This is not the case. Subterranean termites live in nests below the ground and attack any wood that is in direct contact with the ground. They can also get to wood that is above the ground by way of the tunnels they build to reach the higher levels. These tunnels or tubes can often run several feet above ground level. Termites can also enter a structure through the expansion joints in concrete slabs or openings where utilities enter the building.  The best way to avoid a subterranean termite infestation is to have pre-treatment done at the time of building construction.

What Is Pre-Treatment?

Termite pre-treatment at the time of building construction is recommended by architects and builders. It offers the most effective and economical way of preventing termite damage.There are a number of pre-treatment options available. One involves treating the soil surrounding the foundation of a structure with chemicals that kill any termites that may be present or which may try to build nests there in the future. Once the treatment has been applied and the foundation has been laid, the soil is sealed in to retain the chemicals. Another way is to apply liquid termiticide around the foundation to prevent any termite attack.  Liquid termiticide can also be injected directly into the foundation walls and over and under concrete slabs to keep termites away. The type of construction, the actual prevalence of termites in the region and the construction techniques being used will determine how the pre-treatment is to be done.

Pre-treatment should also be done when additions are being made to a home or when an in ground swimming pool is be constructed.

The Benefits

When pre-treatment against subterranean termites is done at the time of construction, the effects last for a long time and the homeowner does not have to worry about termite infestation. It also reduces the need to have regular termite control treatments done and so reduces the disruption to family life that the treatment can otherwise cause. Since the pre-treatment is part of the construction process, this minor cost can be factored in the construction budget.

Subterranean termite colonies can contain up to 1 million insects. That is a huge amount and the damage they can do could be catastrophic. Studies show that subterranean termites cause more damage in the U.S. each year than fires and storms combined. If you are planning on building a home or adding to it, termite pre-treatment is a major factor in protecting one of the biggest investments you will make and one that will become the center of your family’s life. To learn more about pre-treatment, contact a professional termite control company. They will be able to explain the process in detail and answer all your questions. If you have not had pre-treatment done, then they will be able to suggest other termite control treatments and measures you can use to protect your home.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Microwave Termite Treatment

There are a variety of methods available for dealing with termite infestation. Only a professional termite control company will have the equipment and skill to be able to make all the methods available,and more importantly, to know which one to use in each specific situation. One of the most advanced methods, which is most effective in localized and inaccessible areas, is the microwave termite treatment.

Microwave termite eradication has been in use for over 25 years. A test done by the state of California in the 1990s found that the treatment was over 97% effective in killing termites in a structure that was treated. In the years since then the technology has improved as has the efficiency. The XTerminator 4.0 which was released in 2012 is considered to be the cutting edge of microwave termite control equipment.

How It Works

The process begins with a detailed in depth inspection of the premises where the termite infestation is thought to exist. The location of termite colonies will be noted, as well as the extent of any damage they may have caused. A fiber-optic scope is usually used for this. Once a location has been identified, the microwave equipment is put in place, often on a tripod to provide for easy access to wall framing. The equipment will contain a magnetron that produces the microwave. A wave guidance device will direct the microwaves to the infestation. When the microwaves find the termites, the energy is converted to heat, similar to what happens in a microwave oven. The heat kills off the termites almost immediately.

If required, microwave treatment can be combined with traditional chemical based termite eradication methods.

The Advantages

Microwave termite extermination has many advantages:

  • It is quick. Termites are killed in a matter of seconds.
  • There is no need to vacate the premises during the treatment, so there are no hotel expenses for the family and minimal disruption to daily life.
  • Pets remain safe.
  • There is no need to remove plants, furs, plastic etc. to prevent them being damaged by termite control chemicals.
  • Similarly, there is no need to empty food, medications and cosmetics from the home.
  • The gas supply does not have to be shut off.
  • No shrub or tree trimming is required.
  • Communications equipment, security systems and computers do not need to be disconnected.
  • There is no need to inform the fire department when microwave treatment is being done.
  • The treatment is completely green and environmentally friendly.

Use Professionals for the Best Results

Trying DIY methods or hiring a local handyman to spray some chemicals around the home may seem to be a cost effective way of dealing with termites. However, the danger is that without expert knowledge and the right equipment, the termites may not be fully eradicated. Those that remain will repopulate the infested area. While the homeowner relaxes in a false sense of security, the damage continues to occur unseen in the home. By the time it is realized that the termites have reappeared, a huge amount of destruction, requiring costly repairs, may have occurred. When dealing with termites, using a professional eradication service is always the best option.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Escrow Termite Inspection FAQs Part -2

How do I know if there has been a previous inspection?

Whenever a licensed company does an inspection, it is required to post a tag that contains the company name and inspection date, in the area inspected. If any termite control has been done, another tag must be placed next to the first one containing the company name, the date on which the pest control was completed and the chemicals used. The pest control company must also note on the inspection report the details of any inspections done in the last 2 years. Details of home inspections in California can be found on the Structural Pest Control Board website.

Are there any areas that the report will not cover?

Areas that cannot be inspected without opening the structure or because there are objects blocking access are considered to be inaccessible and are not covered in the report. In general these include attics and /or subareas that do not have adequate crawl space, slab foundations without openings, wall covered by shelves and cabinets and carpeted floors. The inspection report must list all the areas that were not inspected and recommend any further action, if required.

What information is in the report?

California law mandates that the inspection report contain details of any wood destroying insects and fungus that may be found. It must also contain information on any structural damage that may be seen. Any existing conditions that could lead to pest infestation in the future must also be noted in the report. This includes issues like faulty grade levels, earth to wood contact and excess moisture. A diagram that clearly shows which areas were inspected and which were not must form part of the report. For example, unless specifically asked for, outbuildings are not normally inspected. If such areas are to be inspected, specific instruction must be given to the inspector. If you did not order the report and are using one provided by the seller, check to see if it is a limited or complete report and if it is limited, consider having an additional inspection done to give you a complete inspection report.

Do the recommendations have to be complied with?

In California there are no laws that require that the recommendations in an inspection report must be complied with. However, financial institutions will usually require that the recommendations in a report be complied with, before agreeing to any loan. The exact nature of the requirements to be met with will vary from institution to institution. Ensure that the report you are using meets all the requirements of the lender you will be dealing with.

How long is the report valid?

Inspection reports and completion notices are valid for 2 years.

Ensuring that proper termite inspection is done before investing in a house is essential. Without it, the major investment you are making – one that will affect your family’s future – may be an insecure one. To ensure that you are fully protected, have the inspection and subsequent termite control, if required, done by a professional termite control company that uses cutting edge technology and state of the art equipment.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

FAQs - Escrow Termite Inspection (Part -1)

Q. What Does a Termite Inspection Encompass?

A. A termite inspection, also called a pest inspection, is a visual inspection of a building by a state licensed professional. The inspection will comprise of a search for evidence of termite infestation and damage to the structure caused by any such termite activity. The inspection will also look for conditions that are conducive to infestations developing such as standing water, plumbing leaks and wood to earth contact. All accessible areas of the house, including crawlspaces and the exterior will be covered by the inspection. If there is no crawlspace, the attic will be inspected. An average inspection will take about 60 minutes and the findings are recorded in a report.

Q. Is It a Legal Requirement in California?

A. California state law does not mandate that an inspection be done prior to the sale of property. However, in many cases, mortgage bankers do require that the inspection be done so as to protect their investment. It should be noted that the inspector is not responsible for any infestation or signs of one that may appear after the inspection date. For this reason it is a good idea to have the inspection done as close as possible to the close of escrow. Some buyers include a termite contingency in the purchase terms which will enable them to withdraw from the transaction if termite damage should be found.

Q. How do I find the Right Pest Control Company?

A.The pest control industry in California is highly regulated. Look for a company that is licensed by the Structural Pest Control Board to do inspections. Contact a few companies and check out their qualifications, experience and the technology that they use to control any termite infestations that may be found. Also ask for references and contact others who have used these service to see what their experience has been.

Q. What should be included in the Report?

A. California law demands that the report includes information on any wood destroying insects that may be found along with the presence of fungus, Details of structural damage, if any, present on the date of the inspection,should be noted. Conditions that are conducive to infestations developing such as stagnant water, faulty grade levels etc. should also be noted. A diagram that shows the parts of the house that have been inspected and also where infestations have been found must form part of the report. Areas not inspected because of inaccessibility, must be mentioned. Recommendations for treatments of infestations and repairs to be done, should also be given in the report.

Q. Who can see the Report?        

A. When a termite extermination company is hired to do an inspection, it is accountable to both the seller and the buyer, irrespective of who has paid for the inspection. The person ordering the inspection must receive a copy of the report within 10 days of the inspection, being done. A copy of the report should then handed over to the buyer or seller, as the case may be. The escrow company will normally ask for a copy of the report.

More FAQs will be covered in the next blog.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Termite Control without Fumigation

Dry wood termites are California’s second largest menace and most common of termites, after the subterranean termites. These pests are generally found along the Pacific coastal region, stretching into the desserts and Central Valley of Southern California. They feed 24x7 and in California, these dry wood termite species, create terrible structural damages. 

Professional pest control managements now integrate practices that use products which are more effective, low in toxicity, do not require tenting (which is a costly and inconvenient process to the owner of the building), and provides long term results. Additionally, it is no longer, a drawn out process, as detection of termite colonies are detected with the aid of detection scanners, therefore, the treatment is always spot on.

Consequently, professional termite control companies now offer several solutions, many of them environmental friendly and result oriented. 

The Traditional Fumigation Solution

Traditionally, a home where termites have been found is fumigated to exterminate them. This involves sealing the whole house, filling it with highly toxic gasses and tenting it. The gasses have to remain in the building for a few days, to kill the infestation. While the fumigation process is on, the residents cannot dwell in the premises. The family’s routine is completely upset as they have to move out to a friend’s or relative’s home or go to a hotel. If there are children or pets involved, the complications only increase. Another problem is that some of the chemicals used in the fumigation process can leave stains on paint, wood or fabric, which will then have to be cleaned, and if that does not work, replaced.

In the United States most fumigation is done using gases that contain Sulfuryl Fluoride. This can be dangerous to humans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that entering a homes after fumigation is safe only when the Sulfuryl Fluoride levels in the air fall below 1 part per million. During the fumigation the levels can reach up to 3,850 parts per million.
The Other Option

Although fumigation, if done by professionals, is very safe, there are those who may not want to have their home filled with deadly gases. For them there is a new and equally effective way of dealing with termites. That is with a non-fumigation termite control process. This process uses low toxicity chemicals to get rid of termites in just one day, meaning that inconvenience and disruption to routine is minimized. Instead of filling the home with toxic gases, the chemicals are injected in the affected areas, destroying the termites and stopping any further infestation. With this process there is no risk of staining or damage to the home or fittings and no cleaning up to do afterwards. Even the indoor plants can stay in place with no risk of damage.

What type of termite eradication is right for your home is a decision best left to the professional termite control experts. When you contact a termite control service, make sure that they offer both the traditional fumigation as well as the non-fumigation options. A company that offers both will be able to take a fair and unbiased view on what is the best solution for your home and will complete their task, with minimum inconvenience to you and your family.