by David Moore
Manager of Technical Services and Board Certified Entomologist
with contributions by Eric Smith, PhD, BCE
After a subterranean termite treatment has been conducted on a home, many homeowners are faced with an annual renewal and inspection to maintain coverage of their home. These homeowners are often curious about what goes into the renewal and the value that these services hold. In this session, I hope to clarify what the service entails and some basics around what is covered.
The whole goal of a termite renewal is to provide additional value to a termite treatment. Typically there is a charge for this, but it is at a fraction of the cost of a new chemical treatment. It is easier and more cost effective to perform a termite treatment once on a home and then re-treat only when necessary. A termite treatment can cost thousands of dollars that is an unexpected cost to a family. The type of treatment and how involved it becomes is determined by numerous factors including where the termites are located, how large the home is, the construction of the home, how much drilling is necessary, how compact the soil is around the home, and other extenuating circumstances such as a location of a well. The termite renewal inspection is a service that helps to maintain the coverage of your home to help ensure that termites do not continue to damage the structure at a fraction of the cost for having a whole home treated again.
These renewals are typically associated with chemical treatment and bait station treatments. Chemical treatments involve a complete barrier of termiticide applied into the ground in order to kill the termites as they pass through the treated soil. Bait treatments will usually include having bait stations applied around the perimeter of a structure at preset intervals to provide a first line of defense against termites that come close to your home. If termites are located against the structure, a chemical treatment is usually necessary to resolve the issue. Either of these general treatments are common throughout the US, and have been maintained by the pest management industry for decades. Although these treatments do last for extended periods of time, an inspection and/or service is necessary to maintain adequate coverage of your home to help ensure it is protected.
A chemical treatment renewal usually involves an inspection of your home to look for signs of termites. These include mud tubes, damaged wood, and swarming termites to name a few signs of an intrusion. Typically, the pest management professional will give you tips about any conditions that may contribute to a termite inspection. These suggestions are meant to aid in the defense of your home to help reduce the attractiveness of your home to termites. If termites are found around the perimeter of your home, then a re-treatment of your home is often necessary. This is where the additional value of a renewal comes into play. Instead of having to pay for an additional treatment, this application is typically covered under these types of coverage plans. If termites are located in your basement 7 years after a treatment, having to have the basement drilled out again and retreated would be expensive. If you have maintained your coverage, then your treatment is typically covered with little to no cost to you. Many of these inspections include both an interior and exterior inspection for evidence of an intrusion that many homeowners are not aware of.
A bait station renewal is a bit different. A bait station renewal usually occurs four times a year, and the inspector will monitor the stations to see if there is any termite activity noted inside of them. These renewals are typically less expensive per incidence, but they cost more over the course of the year since the inspections occur more often. If termites are located inside of these stations, then a chemical is added to the bait station which allows it to kill the colony. In some cases additional devices are added to the property to help protect it further. If termites are located against the property, a chemical treatment is often employed to eliminate the intrusion. Just like with the termite inspection for a chemical treatment, conditions that could contribute to a termite infestation at a property are usually given to a homeowner to help reduce the attractiveness of their structure.
Some companies will offer a damage guarantee in addition to the treatment aspect of their renewal, but you will need to check with your current provider for complete coverage details involved in your program. A benefit that many people find with a termite renewal instead of having regular treatments is a reduction of pesticides at their property. Since the property is under some type of coverage, additional treatments are typically not necessary which reduces pesticides in the environment. This type of service is also helpful if you are going to sell your home. A wood destroying organism report is usually necessary, and if signs of a termite infestation are found a treatment is usually necessary. A termite renewal service will help reduce unexpected costs as you are trying to navigate through a difficult process.
There are many factors that may affect the coverage of an initial termite treatment and cause it to lapse. One of the most common is any landscaping changes that have occurred. Additional construction on a property, any utility work along the perimeter and significant water accumulation are a few more that can contribute to the reduction in the effectiveness of a termite treatment. If any of these items have occurred, you would want to make your current provider aware of these factors to determine if any additional actions are required.
Since the individual who is performing your inspection is a pest management professional, they will be able to properly identify any signs of infestation and discern them from other wood destroying insects or potential damage. Some homeowners opt not to have this service, but they put themselves at risk. Since most homeowners do not know all the signs of termites, they may have an infestation that damages their home for years and costs significant amounts of money to have repaired and retreated. Additionally, the homeowner can mistake one type of insect as a termite, when a totally different treatment is necessary to resolve a completely different pest. Finally, there are very few homeowners who have the means and knowledge on how to treat a home effectively. This puts their family at risk for undue pesticide exposure, and they could potentially cause significant damage to their property.
If you have had a termite treatment and are unclear about what your coverage entails, review your contract or call your current provider to find out the benefits of your renewal service. Many companies will increase the charges year after year, or will require a booster treatment over a specific amount of time. Dodson Brothers does not increase our rates or require booster treatments on any renewal programs as long as the owner stays in that property. If you are scheduling a termite treatment, I would suggest you ask about the renewal and the costs associated with it. Since this service is a long term investment, it may affect which provider you select for your treatment.