Termites and Your Wallet: The Real Cost of Extermination
There are No Easy Answers or Cheap Fixes:
There are many variables at play when it comes to the cost of termite extermination in a structure, and which complicate any quick and easy answer to the question: what is the cost of termite treatment?
Because so many factors come into play regarding establishing an average cost for termite eradication, the best source of information regarding the true costs of termite extermination are often the price quotes of a professional service after a comprehensive inspection of each individual property requiring treatment. That said there are online sources for establishing some broad ranges of prices, including a termite extermination cost calculator such as the one found at: http://www.pestquest.info/estimator.htm
Some of the most important considerations in determining average cost of a termite treatment include:
• Square footage of the home – the bigger the home the more chance for damage, the more chemical termiticides and thorough extermination efforts will cost.
• Extent of termite colony infestation – a young colony that has not begun to affect the structural integrity of a home is likely to be dealt with for less cost than a mature colony that has been undermining the structure for years; both in terms of initial treatment and restoration work to return the home to pre-termite condition.
• Type of foundation of dwelling. Does the home rest on a floating concrete slab? A monolithic slab? Does it have a full basement? A daylight basement? A crawl space? No crawl space? Each individual situation requires a different approach and will affect the bottom line estimate of any reputable exterminator service.
• Extermination activity often requires drilling into and treatment of exterior walls—the accessibility of these walls is another cost determinant.
• Where and how extensive is the termite sign? Is there evidence of termite shelter tubes in the interior of the home or only in substructures (such as crawlspaces)? Can termites be seen in window sill areas? Has termite activity been noted just outside the dwelling or inside as well? All of these clues indicate the level of infestation and will determine how energetic an extermination effort will have to be to eradicate the colony; the extent of the infestation has the greatest impact on costs.
The Best Treatment is Not Always the Cheapest
Additionally which termite treatment methods are chosen will impact the termite treatment price. There are many options available, with prices associated with how aggressive the action taken needs to be to get the job done.
Fumigation involves permeating a home with vikane or methyl bromide gases to kill the colony. Low cost fumigation options exist and may be attempted on a “do it yourself” basis at what may seem minimal cost. However, the fumigation options available to the homeowner are not as effective as those services offered by a professional exterminator. Do it yourself options cannot guarantee penetration to the substructure levels and often leave a heavy toxic residue in their wake. The most effective professional fumigations use special equipment to introduce the gases into the deep structures of the dwelling. Costs for fumigation run between $1200 and $2500 and higher depending largely on the square footage of the home and the presence of any associated structures such as decks that will also need to be treated.
Tenting is a form of fumigation that seals the house beneath plastic before termiticidal gases are injected deep into the structure require sealing the house beneath a tarp to contain and concentrate the fumigant gases. Tenting is one of the most expensive extermination options; though it is arguably the most effective method, especially for drywood termite infestations. Tenting cost can run as high as $3000 for an average size home, more for homes with larger square footage, attached garages, or full basements.
Baiting Systems are a fairly new idea in termite control, and have proven to be largely effective. A baiting system involves the exterminator placing monitoring stations in the ground surrounding the structure, comprised of attractive termite food in the form of specially treated cellulose. The termite workers are attracted to the bait; carry the termiticide permeated substance back to the nest where workers, reproductives, soldiers and brood are killed. Again many factors impact cost for bait systems, a good average price for an average size home is in the vicinity of $1500.
Repellent Treatments are an effective means of treating existing structures, and quite possibly the least expensive option of those described here. This service works best where colony size is small, although may also be effective for larger more established colonies. The process involves drilling into dwelling structures at the deepest levels, injecting termiticidal agents into them and sealing the termite prone areas to insure maximum effectiveness. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars into the $2000 range depending on the service, how extensive their drilling is, home location (in a high termite risk zone for example, expect treatment to cost more than in low risk areas).
Prevention is Always Cheaper than Cure!
It has been said before and it bears repeating, the earlier a termite invasion is identified and the faster extermination is begun, the less expensive will be the costs of any required treatment. Even in areas not particularly renowned for termite presence, infestations ARE possible and can cause extensive damage.
The best defense is always a strong offense; the wary home owner who keeps a weather eye on the presence of any insects around his largest financial investment is going to be property owner best prepared to keep pest control costs manageable.
Never assume that those “winged ants” you see flitting around your home are indeed what they first appear, the reproductive form of the termite is very similar to a flying ant and often mistaken for them. Little white “ants” seen around a dwelling are quite possibly not that relatively benign species at all, and any evidence of either should be investigated aggressively.
There are many options for protecting a structure before even one termite comes to call—and these should be pursued, especially in areas particularly prone to termite activity, such as the southwest United States. It is always most cost effective to head off termite infestations than it is to kill a colony and repair the resultant damage.
Bottom line, know how to identify termites in all their forms, when any sign is discovered, call in an inspector to do a thorough assessment of the problem. Investigate the construction of any home you plan to buy—the most impervious structures will have been constructive of aggressively treated termite resistant materials, will not have landscaping and other design modifications that undermine the effectiveness of these elements. Once a colony has been discovered, and treated, be aware that any termite control effort has a finite limit on effectiveness and ongoing vigilance and future action is often required. Warrantees and ongoing protection plans that monitor the property on a periodic basis can save thousands of dollars farther on down the road.