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Should we get our home inspected for termites?
Old 10-18-2016, 08:03 AM   #1
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Should we get our home inspected for termites?

I found one relevant thread from 2011, so decided to start a new one.

This past spring, we hired an exterminator to get rid of carpenter bees under the eaves of our house. He noticed swarming termites and showed some to me (the black winged-ant kind, not the white burrowers). However, he didn't point out any signs of termite damage (he wasn't there for that purpose) and after we removed some old wood boards that were lying around, we didn't see the swarms. Still, there are plenty of ants around, and I can't be sure whether I'm looking at winged ants or termites. They do look a lot alike.

Also, the house is 26 years old, so who knows. So I called the same outfit about a termite inspection. She didn't like to say how much it would cost, since every home is different. Finally I got her to admit it could cost anywhere from $400 to $2000, depending on how much the technician needed to do. I think this is an awful lot, yet this particular company wasn't horribly pricey for the other work they did.

Would I be penny-wise and pound-foolish to skip this inspection? Is there anything we can look for, ourselves? We have a frame house with a walkout basement on a poured concrete foundation.

Thanks for thoughts,

Amethyst
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:14 AM   #2
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Get a termite inspection. It will probably cost nothing, as the inspector wants the treatment business. There is no way to determine the cost to treat without inspecting first, as you need to know the type of termite and the location of an infestation.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:16 AM   #3
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It definitely won't cost "nothing." She already said the inspection - itself, not including treatment - will cost from $400 to $2000.

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Get a termite inspection. It will probably cost nothing, as the inspector wants the treatment business. There is no way to determine the cost to treat without inspecting first, as you need to know the type of termite and the location of an infestation.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:23 AM   #4
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Despite what they said on the phone, the $400 to $2000 sounds like an estimate for treatment. An inspection by itself shouldn't cost more than $100. It is not highly skilled work and doesn't require specialized tools, it's mostly visually inspecting the entire area looking for signs of activity.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:30 AM   #5
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I would call some other companies and ask them for a quote to inspect. I agree with MichaelB, its just a visual inspection and I do not see that even costing $400.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:30 AM   #6
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Last time I got a termite treatment was for my house was almost 30 years ago. FWIW that set me back $350.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:31 AM   #7
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That's what I thought, too. Think I'll call around a bit before going back to the first company.

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Despite what they said on the phone, the $400 to $2000 sounds like an estimate for treatment. An inspection by itself shouldn't cost more than $100. It is not highly skilled work and doesn't require specialized tools, it's mostly visually inspecting the entire area looking for signs of activity.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:40 AM   #8
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We treated our house 3 years ago after we found termites under the wood floor and spent (wasted) a year trying to deal with then ourselves. All the companies we contacted wanted to tent, which was not an option for us. IIRC the price to tent was around $2.5K, and the treatment did carry a guarantee. We chose to treat with localized insecticide, where they identify all the locations in the house that have termites, and next to each drill a small hole and inject termite poison. It cost the same as tenting. The pest control folks come back once a year to inspect and treat if necessary ($150) and spray around the outer perimeter.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:41 AM   #9
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Most charges for termite inspections are actually charges for the letter needed for closing on a house. For just an inspection, most companies will do them for free.

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Originally Posted by Terminix website
If you’re concerned about termites, schedule your free inspection.
Proactive detection/treatment (the pots) costs me under $300/year (varies based on number of pots needed) and includes bonding against damage. Getting rid of termites, once found, and fixing the damage can cost thousands, tens of thousands, and more, so for me it's a no-brainer insurance policy.
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:47 AM   #10
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I had termites a few years ago. I called a few companies and they came ,inspected for free and gave estimates on the repair . I went with tenting which cost $2,000 . It did the job and have not seen any since .
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Old 10-18-2016, 08:56 AM   #11
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We discovered dry wood termites when we ripped out hardwood flooring during our recent remodel. We had 2 inspections, one for free from a large termite company and one from a highly recommended independent inspector (~$280 IIRC). The company we use to treat for ants wanted $400 for an inspection! The independent discovered infestations in another room and also recommended tenting. Sub termites were also discovered by both. Independent also discovered and commented on other actions we should take to slow down future infestations, which are a given where we live.

We'll be tenting when we get home from vacation. It won't be fun as we have 2 indoor kitties and boarding them is not an option. Fortunately there are lots of hotels (esp. Marriott Renaissances) that take pets in our area. There are a couple of threads on local Next Door wrt the swarming that apparently takes place in our area each October. The tenting and sub treatment will set us back $6K+/-.
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:15 AM   #12
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Note that if you treat you then need to figure on an annual renewal of the termite treatment in the neighborhood of 100 to 300 dollars. That buys them coming back to treat any new infestations for free. (at least for subterranean termites).
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
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I had termites a few years ago. I called a few companies and they came ,inspected for free and gave estimates on the repair . I went with tenting which cost $2,000 . It did the job and have not seen any since .
They just move down the street!
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:37 AM   #14
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FYI - Tenting etc "repairs" are just getting rid of the infestation. That $2k tenting of the house generally doesn't go and replace damaged wood etc inside the walls etc caused by the termites (which could impact structural integrity of the home).
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Old 10-18-2016, 10:46 AM   #15
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Amethyst, what do other people in your area do?

Here in New Orleans, with so many historic old wooden buildings made of various types of wood (some termite resistant, some not), termites are an unbelievably HUGE problem. When they swarm it is like a monster movie, only instead of Godzilla and Rodan, the monsters are the termites which cloud the area.

When buying a house, buyers here insist that a house is under a pre-existing termite contract and also they have a separate termite inspection as part of the home inspection. My house was under a termite contract when I bought it, and had no existing termite damage. As one might expect, all that landscaping that I had done disrupted the termite barrier. I had to call my termite people to have them re-treat everything and begin a new termite contract, as soon as the landscaping was completed.
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Note that if you treat you then need to figure on an annual renewal of the termite treatment in the neighborhood of 100 to 300 dollars. That buys them coming back to treat any new infestations for free. (at least for subterranean termites).
+1 This is what they do here. I have never gone without a termite contract. This involves annual inspections, as you point out, and regular retreatment as needed and even when not needed after a few years when it's time for it.

Going without a termite contract would be just incredibly foolhardy around here. But this is New Orleans, and Amethyst, YMMV and probably does in various parts of the country.
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Old 10-18-2016, 11:04 AM   #16
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I would want a very clear idea of what is found in an inspection. That mean eyeballing the problem with whoever inspects. Also tenting may not be the only treatment option.

Occasionally I find a termite around our house, usually dead and the wings are off. There is plenty of rotting branches on the ground in the park behind our house. This seems to be the time of year the termites fly off to find new "homes".

I happened to see a swarm just a few days ago on a neighborhood walk. There was a house that had some posts in front for landscaping. On top of one post was a big swarm of termites taking off into the neighborhood. I guess the point is that termites are in our environment and we have to expect to see them around. If a structure is inspected we have to assess whether treatment is truly required at the present. Not always an obvious decision I think.
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Old 10-18-2016, 01:37 PM   #17
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Just a note on Carpenter Bees, you will never exterminate them. Every Spring they will re-emerge from surrounding areas looking for wood to drill their neat 1/2" holes into. You can plug the holes or spray them. They love decks, eaves etc. doesn't matter if wood is pressure treated or not. One of my favorite sports is to get a badminton racquet and whack them as they fly stationary. They don't bite or sting typically, but are very aggressive towards each other.
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Old 10-18-2016, 02:23 PM   #18
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I have an inspection every year and it cost me about $150.00. He goes under the house and inspects as well as around the outside of the house. I keep all receipts of inspection. So far so good.

The history: additional sand under house, drenched the foundation for termites (20 years ago or so when the treatment for new houses expired), inspected every year since, and 3 years ago conditioned the crawl space under the house, drainage on low side of lot, etc. We have a lot of moisture, humidity, rain and this little city is near a river. As I understand it, where there is moisture, there can be termites. So I have tried to do what I can.
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Old 10-18-2016, 04:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by exnavynuke View Post
FYI - Tenting etc "repairs" are just getting rid of the infestation. That $2k tenting of the house generally doesn't go and replace damaged wood etc inside the walls etc caused by the termites (which could impact structural integrity of the home).

Just as a FYI, unless you have a really bad infestation termites usually do not cause structural integrity issues with a house...

Now, if the termites are combined with rot issues then you can have problems...
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Old 10-19-2016, 05:47 AM   #20
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As you can tell, the comments on termites are all over the place. My observations from experience:
1. The pest control businesses are more of an insurance company than getting rid of any bugs or critters. The EPA prohibits them from using toxic chemicals to kill the bugs. In the old days, pest guys would kill bugs--where now, they're scaring them out of your house.
2. Many pest control outfits are fraudulent operations. They're mainly wanting to get you into long term contracts where they come out monthly and check the traps--and look like they're spraying for bugs. They're a rip off and so are their termite contracts.
3. Carpenter ants are a much larger problem than termites in that they're so fast doing damage. But they're only eating diseased wood i.e. trees, etc.
4. Termites eat very slowly and they're following the formaldehyde smell of wood. They also leave mud tunnels where they go in and out daily for water--into the ground. Termites cannot live in air, so you seldom see them. If you have concrete or block construction, you're not going to have termite problems generally. Termites love to come up the inside of siding that touches the dirt--a common construction error.
5. When there is a termite infestation, termicides are used to kill'em in a localized area--and they're tough little rascals. Companies tenting a house are ripping you off as it's not required.
6. All those tank trucks used by pest control outfits are "for show." Termite men treating their own homes use graduated yard sprayers with termicide in them.
7. There are termites in every shovel of dirt you dig up in your yard. You just don't want them within the last 6 inches of your house.
8. Even if there has been termite infestion in your house, there is enough wood left to where repairs don't even have to be made in many cases.

My good friend is a pest control company owner. When I had 3 small infestations, he told me to dig a 6" trench around my house and fill it up with pea gravel. Go to the local pest control store and buy a good termicide. Mix it in a graduated yard sprayer in order to spray the whole container into a 10' section. Go back and forth until the sprayer's empty and go on to the next 10' section. Do this all the way around the house. I drilled holes in my garage floor and sprayed it down.

Want to read about getting rid of any pests? Go to BugSpray.com He's the largest seller of termicide in the country, and has written over 150 narratives on getting rid of any bug or critter.
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