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Termite Treatment Cost Guide: DIY VS Professional

Termites cause billions of dollars in damage per year. That just covers the United States, so if you look at worldwide damage, that number rises significantly. For overall damage, termites are considered a devastating force o buildings. In new or old homes, they wreak havoc and spread throughout the area. Brick or stone homes are also affected, as their structural supports and other areas are susceptible to a termite attack. Yet the scariest part of all this is that a lot of insurance doesn’t cover termite damage. That puts the burden of thousands of dollars in repairs in your hands, potentially draining funds. Preventative measures are always the best with termite attacks, but there are plenty of ways to fix the problem even when things are at their worst.

Identifying The Problem

There are a lot of things that point to a termite infestation. Early signs aren’t hard to track, but the presence of termites is another story entirely. You won’t just find termites sitting around like regular insects, waiting to be found. That is why spotting the damage is the better option since it will tell you when to sound the alarm bells. Using the eye test won’t get you very far, so it will come down to piecing together small clues to find out if it leads to termite infestation. One of the signs is knowing the type of termites you’re facing; drywood or subterranean. Since both of these termite types look like flying ants, it isn’t uncommon to be sent into a false panic when seeing one. That goes back to not using only the eye test, but several clues to piece together the source of an infestation. The last thing you want to do is call in pest control for flying ants, wasting valuable time and money in the process.

Telling The Difference Between Flying Ants And TermitesAlthough they look similar, there are some big differences once you get a good look. You may run into a couple of dead termites/ants in a specific area in your home. Not only does this tell you where more are, but it lets you examine the type of insect you’re dealing with. Flying ants have back wings that are smaller than their front wings. Termites have wings of equal size in the front and back. The antennas on a termite are straight while the ones on an ant are elbowed. But the biggest visual sign between the two is the length of the wings. Termite wings are twice as long as their entire bodies. This is something that makes it much easier to inspect, especially since flying ant wings are always the same length or shorter than their body.

Figuring Out Wood DamageDrywood termites are an above ground breed that live in the wood they’re destroying. Subterranean termites seek out moisture, so they start below ground and use structures to travel between food sources. They build a lot of complicated mud tubes to accomplish this, protecting themselves from dehydration in the process. When you notice wood damage, tap it to see if it’s hollow. This is the sign of wood that has been damaged beyond repair, or at the very least compromised. You can even take a flathead to it and try making a dent so the extent of the damage is clearer. It’s a small test that doesn’t take a lot of time, and the results will give you a good indication of how bad the problem is.

Signs That Termites Have Been In The AreaWhen wood damage doesn’t grant you a lot of information, try looking for other signs. Grains of sand known as frass are really termite fecal pellets. Random piles of frass showing up around the home will tell you where to explore. Mud tubes in cracks, baseboards and trailing along your walls are from subterranean termites. Around these areas you may notice the floor is sagging, which is more than enough reason to investigate. If your home is fairly new and there are a lot of cracks showing up along the walls, termites could be in the area. At the very least it shows you that the home is in need of some type of repair. The last really noticeable sign of termites finding their way into your home is the windows and doors sticking. It’s one of the easiest ways for them to tunnel into your home without resistance.

Using all of the information in this section will put you on the right track to identifying the problem yourself. Not only will this save time, but it will give you a general idea of if a sitermination is possible.

The Pros And Cons Of A DIY Termite Treatments

There is no one fix for all problems other than calling an exterminator. This is one of those DIY jobs that is slow, calculated and requires a lot of work. If you’re not willing to put in the time needed for the project, then it’s better off in the hands of a trained professional. With the right mindset, your home or building will be termite free and protected from future infestations.

Pros

  • You’ll save hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars depending on the scope of the project. That alone is worth the time you invest at the beginning. The amount of money saved will be directly related to the type of DIY extermination chosen.
  • Home values drop drastically when a termite infestation is left unchecked. Getting rid of termites will keep the resale value high without a beefy upfront cost.
  • There is more than one way to finish the project. You can choose whichever one works within your current experience level. Even if you choose the hardest, instructions are clear enough that you won’t be too rattled.
  • Some of the DIY solutions are purchased as an all-in-one kit. With a little bit of location research, you can lay down traps that get rid of the problem without going too deep into the details.
  • Many DIY projects get rid of termites and enforce preventative measures. So with light maintenance, you never have to worry about the problem becoming a burden again.
  • Treatments often reach areas that are difficult for the average sized human. With good application techniques, you could cover the most important parts of your home with termite killing treatments.

Cons

  • Following the DIY guide could make the problem worse than it actually is. This means making the termites resistant to specific treatment methods used by professionals.
  • Missing out on key nesting areas of termites will give you headaches by offering a temporary solution. To make the treatment permanent, positioning is key.
  • Finding out about termites too late turns a workable DIY project into a professional’s job. At this point you have no choice but to call in the guys with the experience.
  • Some treatment plans work but take time to fully show results. You’ll have to monitor the situation to see if the problem is being solved or getting worse.
  • Homes with children or pets have to be careful about extermination techniques that aren’t environmentally safe. Always check to make sure that your treatment plan doesn’t harm people in the area. Organic treatments are best to consider when this is a problem.
  • Drywood termites have very specific plans that are the most effective for their termination. You’ll have less options to eliminate the problem, so if you don’t like a treatment plan, it could be problematic.
  • When fumigation is the only option, you have to pack up and leave the home. No pets, children or adults can be in the area during a fumigation. Besides pushing you out of your home, this extreme option is considered bad for the environment.

There are a lot of DIY projects available that deal with termites in the home, so your pro and con list will vary. Even a well-planned project can fail when the termites are too heavy in numbers. Try to crunch the cost and time requirements into a chart so that you know what you’re dealing with. This is one project where stopping in the middle could have catastrophic effects.

Materials Needed

This guide will cover two different types of termite treatment plans; Bait Stations and Liquid Chemicals. Both of these have been proven as an effective choice when dealing with termites, even when their numbers are large. Due to the costs involved in fumigation, that option will be left off of the list. The setup alone makes it a larger project than what this guide is looking to cover. All of the materials listed can be found in a hardware store or online through your favorite retailer.

Termite Powder/Spray/FoamThere are many different kinds, but remember that none can guarantee results. Stay away from the fancy marketing and just choose the one that works best for your particular infestation. Some are stronger at controlling an infestation while others work at direct termination. There are pros and cons to each, so sometimes it is better to get more than one.

Termite BaitThese come in stations, stakes, systems and traps. Think of this as the ‘all in one kit’ that takes care of the difficult parts of pest control. You still need to use your brain to find the correct positioning. This is the more expensive option when you want to get rid of termites. It is also the best way to control ‘zones’ of your home when the infestation has spread in multiple areas.

Gloves/Safety Glasses/MaskYou’ll be handling chemicals that are harsh when they come into contact with the skin or eyes. This is an absolute requirement when handling any of the termite removal tools mentioned.

FlashlightA flashlight is needed in areas that need the treatment applied but are too dark for normal vision. You want to get a slightly above average flashlight to handle this job since positioning of the treatment is a big part of the process.

DrillThere will be areas that you can’t reach with your hands. Using a drill will let you get closer to a nesting area. This in turn will make applying treatments more effective.

The Job

Follow the steps listed to identify the type of termite and where they are most active. This will determine which treatment will be the most effective. There is nothing wrong with using both, but users should always lean towards treatments that are environmentally friendly. This will protect both their home area and pets from being affected by the treatments.

Termite Solutions should not be used when it is expected to rain within two days. Try to pick a day where you have at least a couple of days of decent weather. Even a small dose of rain will wash away the treatment after it’s applied. To make sure that things are safe, keep pets and children away from the areas you plan to apply the solution. At the very least, make sure they aren’t around for a couple of hours so that it settles. If a nest is directly located, make sure you spray it thoroughly until covered. Drilling is required for areas that you can’t get to, but nothing in excess of four inches. You only need to do this if the wood is directly affected by the termites and there is no other way to get close to them.

Use care when drilling holes since the wood is already weakened from the termite damage. Liquid treatments can take up to three months before you start seeing the results, so use patience after the initial application. There will be plenty of signs that the treatment was successful if you regularly visit the troubled areas. Reapplying the treatment in the same area multiple times a week is not a good idea, so be patient. The last thing you want to do is make the termites strong against the chemicals through overexposure.

Termite Bait can be purchased on packs based on how serious the problem is. A bait system will contain more than one bait trap anyway, so you’ll be able to get started immediately with the problem. Just like with liquid treatments, identify the active areas of termites. Most modern baits need to be installed in an augured hole in the ground. Nothing too fancy, but it does have to be secure. If using this treatment in conjunction with the liquid option, try to install the bait at least twelve inches from any soil that was treated with the liquid termite option.

You have a lot of options with the bait depending on how the outside of your house is built. Some baits use a trap method while others use a monitor/delivery method. The latter lets you catch termites that get caught going for the bait and then switch it out with the poison. They slowly bring it back to the rest of the nest, eventually spreading the poison to the rest of the group. Users can even double the damage by installing bait traps close to one another.

Essential Tips For Getting Rid Of Termites

DIY termite treatment is a waiting game no matter how you look at it. Some of the most common tips involve using a ‘set it and forget it’ approach. You still need to be persistent in how you identify troubled areas. Even the best treatments won’t be effective when they are positioned incorrectly.

  • Termites don’t have a specific time of the year where they are active. That means that you should expect them to be at their worst year round, regardless of the seasons. Without any specific resting periods, growth in numbers should be expected at all times.
  • Signs of trouble are most apparent near the foundation. This is where you’ll find mud tubes that they’ve created, allowing instant access to the inside of your home. With a little luck this will be the first thing you identify before applying a treatment.
  • Basements are another area where termites show the most visible damage. Look for anything out of the ordinary like weakened wood or mud tubes. Anything that shouldn’t be in the basement is worth investigating.
  • Termites love places that are rich in moisture. It makes the wood perfect for them to eat, and as a side effect also makes the perfect growth area for mildew. So it is the worst of both worlds in this scenario, with the only savior being proper ventilation and sealing. Attics and basements that are kept up with will make the wood less of a target.
  • You can sometimes catch termites in your yard long before they make it into the home. This is a perfect case scenario for most homeowners if you purchase bait treatments. Put it far away from your home and destroy the nest before the termites decide to disturb your peace.
  • Preventative maintenance is a good idea. Make a small trench in the dirt and fill it with a liquid termite treatment. You’re not looking to repel termites, but instead you want them to go to the hole where they will be poisoned.
  • Any DIY deck builders that want wood should look at treated wood. Since it is combined with chemicals, termites are less likely to be attracted.
  • Try to store things in your home in plastic rather than cardboard. Even large plastic bins are preferable, and can be used for better organization. Users that insist on cardboard should make sure it isn’t piled up in moist areas.

These tips aren’t mandatory, yet they should be read at least once. You never know when a little bit of foresight will come in handy.

Termite Removal Cost

You’ll need a bit of dedication to get this DIY job right. Messing up can end up costing you more than hiring a contractor outright. Users should rank this as one of the harder to complete DIY projects, or at the very least the most involved one. There is a lot of waiting, checking, waiting and collecting result data. Patience is rewarded by saving you hundreds of dollars and not putting anyone out of the house for an extended amount of time.

Termite Powder/Spray/Foam can be purchased from multiple retailers. Depending on which one you get, the prices can go from low to high. The variation in price affects even the branded choices, so don’t get confused with the options. $7-$30

Termite Bait Kits and Systems are more expensive if you want the best of the bunch. A good kit will run you a lot but provides an extra layer of defense when paired with liquid treatment solutions. As a duo it beats even some of the higher professional end solutions, provided you place them tactically. $70-$-$150

Safety materials like glasses, gloves and a face mask can all be purchased cheap. There are some stores that even sell them in packs, useful for repeated jobs. You don’t need to go all out with the safety materials, so a low price works best. $1-$5

Flashlights are a bit of a mixed bag for some users. LED is a must, and you also want one that is lightweight with a brighter than normal light. Not only will this be used for looking at crevices and hard to reach areas, but the flashlights will shine down the holes you create with the drill. Getting one with a rechargeable battery is preferred, but not mandatory. $5-$15

The last thing you need is a drill. You can also go for generic when looking at drills, as it is a minor tool in the complete treatment plan. You’ll drill a limited number of holes if needed, and in some instances no holes will be needed. Stay away from corded drills and you’ll be fine. $25-$40

Not a lot of materials are needed to complete this DIY project. Getting both termite treatment types will still keep the cost lower than hiring a professional to do the job. When your termite infestation is at its highest, having both will be more of a benefit than a hassle.

When To Hire A Professional

When the damage is so far along that your home is unsafe, then calling a professional is the best bet. Being safe is more important than saving a little money. In times where waiting a couple of months to see results isn’t an option, professionals will be the best investment you ever make. They give you an accurate assessment of some things you may have missed. They are upfront about the time, costs involved and whether you need to take a vacation. Safety is something professionals take seriously, so you can expect that the treatment options will follow all current guidelines.

If you’ve never done a DIY home treatment before, screwing up will cost you more than hiring a professional. And if a professional has to come in after you to defeat aggressive termites, the price may go up. Failed DIY treatments makes nests immune to certain eradication techniques. That spells bad news for homeowners if the infestation is already bad and their numbers are high. So before you apply a DIY fix, step back and assess the situation; can you put the time needed into the project and be patient about the outcome? While also making sure that everyone in your home is safe from the chemicals you put down? If the answer is no, then call a professional.

When DIY Is The Better Option

The most obvious answer is going to be cost. DIY termite treatment will cost you less money than hiring a professional if it’s done right. Sometimes this is the only motivation a user needs to make that final decision. There is nothing wrong with that if you’re aware of what’s required. When you don’t need the problem to have instant results, DIY will provide a nice clean way to get rid of multiple nests over a couple of months. Once you destroy the nest, further manipulation of the area will keep them away forever. DIY is also the better option for homes that only have a light termite problem. You can identify this by looking for nests. If the damage is minimal, then there is no need to break out the big guns (professionals). Think of the DIY route as playing the long game, with the only con being the time it takes to keep up with everything.

FAQ

Can Anyone Get Rid Of Termites?

Yes, with good patience. The one thing that screws up a lot of DIY termite treatments is the user expecting immediate results. This isn’t like spraying a can of raid on a roach and not having to deal with that problem again. Termite infestations are a different type of problem, one that slowly eats away at the important parts of your home. You may run into more than one nest during your monitoring period that needs to be wiped out. If you are expecting results in a few weeks from a treatment plan, then failure will soon follow.

Are Professionals Really That Much More Expensive?

Yes, but for good reasons. Professionals are the very best at what they do, knowing exactly where to look for nests. Their years of practice in the field also make them more knowledgeable about the extent of damage a termite can do. All of these extra pros come at a cost, but in the end you’ll get a guaranteed result and save a lot of time. Homeowners that don’t have a lot of time to spare will do a lot better hiring professionals to deal with the problem. It is better to take that route than to do a bad job with the DIY treatment.

Do You Have To Combine Treatment Types?

Treatment types that are combined (liquid/bait) give you a better chance of solving the termite problem and keeping them away forever. You don’t have to use them with one another, but it is helpful for the strongest impact. Baits have to be placed a couple of inches away from where you last sprayed with liquid treatment. Other than that, they’re completely compatible options to eradicate termites.

When Are Bait Treatments Most Effective?

This treatment option is at its strongest when you need to prevent and control termites in the area. Since part of the system is monitoring termite habits, you can adjust the bait as needed for the most effectiveness. Besides being easy to use, they are an ecofriendly option that won’t harm pets or kids. Big backyards and front yards offer a lot of flexibility when planning an installation. There are a few areas of interest in both that will surely help with positioning of the bait.

Why Is It Important To Know The Type Of Termite?

Knowing the difference between drywood and subterranean termites will help you decide which treatment is best. Using the wrong treatment won’t harm your home, but it will prevent you from using the most effective chemicals to fight termites. You’ll also miss out on a lot of position queues when trying to find their nest. Identifying the termite type is the first thing you should do before starting this DIY guide. If you’re in doubt about the type of termite, then look at the type of damage they’re doing to further help identify.

Should You Always Buy Treated Wood?

New additions to the home like a deck is the main reason why treated wood is a necessity. When building wood based projects always go for treated wood. The chemicals used to make it are unpalatable for termites, so they won’t be attracted to it like normal wood. Treated wood is also known as pressure treated lumber, a material that is built to resist a lot of outside elements. Insects, rain and decay are fought off with a strong chemical barrier. The popularity of treated wood started as early as the 30’s, known then as chromated copper arsenate. Today it is the best barrier to protect outside wood based objects from the dangers of the environment. You’ll find many different types of treated wood, giving consumers many options of color and durability.

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