How to Get Rid Of Termites
Get tips on how to rid your home of termites.
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Q: I purchased a three-unit apartment building and found termite damage. I had several services give me estimates on treatment. Most wanted to drill the foundation on the interior, which is almost impossible due to tenants and the design of the heating distribution system. The service that I finally ended up with uses bait traps. When termites attack, these bait stations of wood supposedly would be switched to poison bait to kill the colony. The problem is that termites I can see did not go to these stations and I still have termites between two of the bait stations. Is there something else I can use? _R.E., Chicago
A: For years, the treatment for active termite infestation has been to place a chemical barrier between the building and the termite colony. With most chemical treatments, the preferred procedure is to trench outside the foundation in order to be able to treat the soils near the footing. Likewise, the interior foundation footing needs to be exposed by trenching where there's a dirt floor or by drilling holes in a concrete floor. Hollow-core concrete block foundation walls also are drilled as part of the overall treatment procedure.
Solid foundation walls such as brick or concrete are more difficult to treat. In most cases, the wood that sits on these solid foundation walls will be treated with the appropriate chemical.
It is possible to chemically treat concrete floors even though they have steam, water or ducts in or under the concrete floor. Steam pipes, water lines and duct work must be located so that they will not be damaged during the drilling process.
Two major brands of baiting stations are Sentricon and Exterra. The principal behind both systems is to place bait stations all around the foundation and to check the stations until live termites are found. Then a chemical poison is placed in the active station for the termites to take back to the colony where it is shared with the whole colony.
The expected result is that the whole colony is destroyed. The weak link in the system appears to be the willingness of the pest control company to check the bait stations for activity. When there has not been any termite activity, the stations should be checked quarterly, but when there is known activity the stations should be checked monthly.
Chemical spot treatment is also effective in maintaining the infestation that appears between the bait stations.
(Dwight Barnett is a master inspector certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors.)
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