Question: My home has been inspected every year for termites and pests for the past 10 years and now they tell me it needs to be treated. The seller told me the home was treated years ago with chlorine and that I would never have a problem. What is going on here?
Answer: The termites may not have been present in the past. The colony or colonies of termites work day and night foraging for food and may eventually find the wood or cellulose on your property to be their next meal. Years ago, exterminators used chlordane, not chlorine, to kill termites by contact. Chlordane production was banned in the late 1980s as a suspected contaminant that threatened ground water systems. After the ban, the chemicals used for the treatment of termite infestation were repellents but with limited success.
Repellents work as long as the home being treated is completely surrounded with the chemical barrier. Any small gap in the treatment and the termite can get through to feast on your home. A termite is so small that it can pass through a one-sixteenth-inch gap. No treatment company could guarantee that the ground around the home was so saturated that there were no gaps. Today, pest control companies extensively use Termidor, Premise and a newer product Altriset to kill and not simply repel termites. All three termiticides are guaranteed to kill the termites and to destroy the termite colonies. This protection should protect the property for years to come. The use of registered chemicals is not a DIY project and the products are only available through a licensed pest control operator. Over time, five to nine years, all three products will eventually break down in the soils. It is important to maintain an annual contract with the pest control company and to have the home inspected annually for signs of another possible round of infestation.
C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.
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