He’s declared to advice you get rid of all the awful awesome things about your house. But watch out: You ability wind up with added problems than you started out with — and not all of them will acquire six legs.
1. “Your bugs will appear aback — but we ability not.”Imagine alive up one morning…with all-overs ample through your sheets. You blitz to the bathroom, and they’re zipping about the tiles. Now, in the kitchen, you acquisition them ample in and about your atom boxes. Bug-out!
Too bad Anju Garg wasn’t apperception things. “It was disgusting,” she says of that May 2000 morning aback all-overs attacked her Cerritos, Calif., home. Garg bound alleged a bounded Terminix franchise, whose technicians came and sprayed her home. They afterwards alternating for two added approved account treatments — but the all-overs never went away. While Garg’s $45-a-month account arrangement affirmed “unlimited chargeless re-service…between approved visits,” Garg says calls for added treatments went ignored. Terminix claims “technicians did acknowledgment several times…but the homeowner was not at home.” Garg has aback switched to a new exterminator, but says of Terminix, “They claim, ‘no bugs, no hassles.’ But there were bags of bugs and bags of hassles.”
Fact is, exterminators rarely agreement they’ll annihilate your pests. Evin Dugas, a Houston advocate who about handles annoyance ascendancy cases, warns that unless your arrangement with an exterminator absolutely calls for complete elimination, “then he doesn’t acquire any obligation to get rid of your bug problem.”
2. “If your new home has termites, we won’t acquisition them.”With home sales booming, so is the business of analytical absolute acreage for wood-destroying bacilli (WDO). In best cases, afore a coffer approves a mortgage, a client charge accommodate affidavit from a accountant exterminator that the abode is chargeless of such pests as termites, crumb column beetles or carpenter bees. According to Mike Casey, admiral of the American Society of Home Inspectors, one in bristles homes on the bazaar today has affirmation of a WDO.
Kevin Brown anticipation the abode he was diplomacy in Cocoa, Fla., was termite-free. Afore closing on the home in 1998, he accustomed a address from the inspector, Massey Services, that acclaimed a above-mentioned termite analysis in the home but no accepted infestation. But anon afterwards affective in, while advancing to re-carpet a bedroom, Brown apparent accident to the accomplished floor, which led him to acquisition added accident and alive termites elsewhere. Adam Jones, carnality admiral of affection affirmation at Massey, says the “real acreage analysis is based on a beheld analysis only, and we didn’t see any alive action or accident on that day, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t any.” (Brown sued Massey and the home’s antecedent owners in Brevard County court, but the case eventually was disqualified a mistrial because of a cloister error.)
To abstain a fate agnate to Brown’s, do two things: Get annoyance ascendancy annal apropos the house, action aback several years, from either the sellers or their exterminator, and accomplish abiding the ambassador you appoint checks for altitude accessory to wood-destroying organisms, such as areas with aerial amounts of damp (for instance, basements or about chimneys) or breadth copse is in absolute acquaintance with soil. And to be on the safe side, accede accepting a additional inspector’s opinion. (An analysis about will bulk amid $40 and $150.)
3. “We don’t pay for amercement we should acquire prevented.”The aegis guarantees offered by best annoyance ascendancy companies, such as Orkin, Massey Casework and Terminix, action to pay for “new” termite damage. But for abounding customers, agitation arises aback aggravating to ascertain aloof absolutely what “new” accident is. Best exterminators usually booty it to beggarly accident in an breadth that didn’t acquire termites afore your home was treated. But Roger E. Gold, an entomologist at Texas A&M University, says, “I don’t apperceive anyone who can attending at a awkward and say which is new accident and which is old.”
Just ask John Spence. Aftermost July, Spence, admiral of his abode circuitous in Ormond Beach, Fla., noticed that termites had eaten abroad chunks of copse captivation up a account window. He again begin agnate accident at bristles added barrio in the complex. He was told by Terminix that the accident was advised “old.” Spence disagreed, alienated that because Terminix had had the account arrangement aback 1987, anon afterwards the barrio were completed, any accident had to be “new” accident and the exterminator was amenable for advantageous for repairs.
“If (Terminix) did its job, we wouldn’t acquire any termites now,” says Spence, who estimates the absolute accident to be about $30,000. A Terminix backer says, however, that the abode circuitous has been “plagued with a history of damp problems” that are a “natural allure for cavern termites.” However, the annoyance ascendancy aggregation did accede to pay $1,960 against the adjustment of one damaged building.
4. “Don’t bother with those big-ticket baits. Aloof use Raid.”Baiting systems geared to absolute termites acquire become absolutely busy in contempo years — and expensive. For instance, exterminators will abode about 20 baby blooming tubes about your yard. Ideally, termites crumb at berserk copse in the tubes, again acknowledgment to their colonies to allotment the analgesic allurement with added termites. The tubes charge to be arrested account by a artisan for termite activity, and the absolute analysis can bulk at atomic $1,200.
Pretty cool, but do the systems work? A abstraction by Texas A&M University of 75 homes appliance such baits begin that, afterwards one year, alone 50% of infested homes had beneath termites. (Dow AgroSciences, which markets Sentricon, one accepted system, claims 98% capability provided abundant stations are acclimated and they are serviced properly.) Harold Scheer, buyer of a annoyance ascendancy aggregation in Oklahoma City, Okla., says the botheration with allurement systems is that they don’t allure termites. “They await on the termites award the baits,” he says. Plus, “they won’t assignment if the termites acquire an alternating aliment source-like your home.”
5. “You acquisition all-overs catchy to get rid of? Funny, so do we.”Fire ants. Pharaoh ants. Acrobat ants. Little atramentous ants. Pain-in-the-ants. No bulk what you alarm them, all-overs are aggravating. “Because some all-overs change comestible habits frequently,” says John Klotz, entomologist at the University of California-Riverside, “it’s hit or absence if you’re appliance a bait” in aggravating to annihilate the little pests. Plus, some exterminators about acquire agitation anecdotic altered types of all-overs in the aboriginal place.
Rob Steinbach begin this out afterwards a Terminix artisan sprayed about his Memphis home in backward 1997 to get rid of an ant infestation. Instead, the all-overs multiplied. What did Steinbach do? “We went on the Terminix Web site’s online database and begin the blazon of all-overs we had, Pharaoh ants. It said that if you spray, the antecedents will divide,” says Steinbach. “We went out and bought our own baits, and aural six weeks the all-overs were gone.” Steinbach again canceled his annoyance account arrangement with Terminix. While not commenting on Steinbach’s claims specifically, a Terminix backer says the Memphis appointment has an on-staff entomologist available, “as a ability to all technicians, and (he) speaks about with customers.”
6. “I bootless exterminator college.”Think the exterminator you let into your home is a able professional? Don’t be so sure. A Annoyance Ascendancy Technology annual analysis shows that 46% of annoyance ascendancy operators say “lack of able labor” is the capital agency attached aggregation growth. “Applicators are not accomplished as able-bodied as they should be,” says John Munro, an able attestant in annoyance ascendancy cases. He adds that abounding applicators “don’t acquire the all-important acquaintance to admeasurement up and break your problem.”
To actuate if your artisan is appropriate for the job, Munro advises you accord him a quick quiz. Some questions to pose: Which able organizations do you accord to — and where’s the proof? What are some of the habits of the pests we’re ambidextrous with? (His answers should bout trends you’ve noticed.) And are the chemicals you appetite to use safe about children? As Munro puts it, “If he says, ‘They’re safe abundant to drink,’ appearance him the door.”
7. “Our chemicals will beat bugs-and you.”Each year, 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides are activated in the U.S. That’s a lot of potentially adverse chemicals. Accede Timothy Veal’s situation. Anon afterwards Orkin activated added than 160 gallons of Dragnet FT to amusement termite bane at his Coloma, Mich., home in 1999, Veal’s youngest daughter, Lindsay, had to be rushed to the hospital for airsickness and diarrhea. Veal says he suffered from high respiratory problems and “couldn’t anticipate straight.” Orkin abiding to acquire the ancestors break in a auberge for a anniversary and had Braun Intertec, an engineering and consulting firm, accomplish ecology tests of the home. According to an Orkin spokeswoman, the tests showed “no adverse levels of products.” Still, Veal accuse Orkin was behindhand and is gluttonous abatement through an adjudication panel.
Got a bad aftertaste for bug spray? Again ask your exterminator for a archetype of the Material Safety Data Sheet and the chemical’s characterization for your own records. Besides accouterment appliance instructions and acquainted EPA approval, the abstracts will account what ancillary furnishings can action if you’re overexposed to the chemicals.
8. “Your old account arrangement agency little to us.”Sure, added than 75% of annoyance ascendancy companies are apart owned, but “there’s been a alliance trend action on in the industry,” says Bob Rosenberg, administrator of government diplomacy for the Civic Annoyance Management Association. Orkin and Terminix accumulate accepting mom-and-pop companies and abduction up account affairs in the process. Anticipate that agency bigger account for customers? Well, accede this first: One in four complaints about exterminators to the Bigger Business Bureau in Houston (an breadth that has year-round annoyance problems due to its climate) involves barter agitated over the account rendered by a annoyance ascendancy aggregation that has taken over for a antecedent exterminator.
Has your old reliable Capital Street exterminator aloof awash out to a above chain? Here are a few things to watch out for: First, audit your bill closely. One Houston homeowner says he was aback answerable for “future” casework afterwards his arrangement was affected by a civic chain. Also, accomplish abiding your new exterminator will acquire albatross for accident acquired by termites during the time your home was actuality serviced by its above exterminator. And as abounding barter contend, don’t be afraid if your new and bigger exterminator frequently calls to reschedule accessories — or doesn’t appearance up at all. What’s your aing move? Cancel your account arrangement and alpha analytic for a new and added reliable exterminator.
9. “We’re stingy with the poisons we use.”Before a annoyance ascendancy aggregation absolutely sprays, it measures the ambit about your abode to actuate the appropriate bulk of chemicals needed. Although companies are accurately banned from applying beneath than what the characterization states (generally, 4 gallons per 10 beeline feet), by undertreating your home, the exterminator keeps money in his abridged (5 to 10% of your bulk goes against chemicals). “Accuracy is acutely important aback the abettor calculates how abundant to apply,” says Texas A&M’s Gold. “But their algebraic can err on the ancillary of undertreatment.” Can rogue companies be ratted out? Ohio’s Administration of Agriculture concluded a nine-month analysis by award that a annex of a axial Ohio annoyance ascendancy alternation acclimated bare chemicals aback alleviative homes for termites in the backward ’90s. In January 2001 the administration revoked the branch’s license.
10. “That ain’t parmesan on your tortellini.”Think aback a moment. Remember that aftermost bad stomachache you had afterwards bistro at your admired restaurant? Don’t automatically accusation the chef. It could be the restaurant’s exterminator. A rodenticide accepted as tracking crumb is about acclimated to ascendancy abrasion problems in restaurants and added aliment breadth aliment is sold. Anon afterwards active through the anemic substance, a abrasion or rat is all but doomed. The problem? “The abrasion can run through the powder,” says Thomas A. Parker, an entomologist and buyer of Annoyance Ascendancy Casework in Lansdowne, Pa., “and again run over a countertop breadth your aliment is prepared.” We agree, that’s appealing gross. Here, at least, is some acceptable account (we think): “It would booty ingesting added than 12 ounces of tracking powder,” says Ed Marshall, administrator of abstruse casework for LiphaTech, a tracking crumb manufacturer, “to annihilate a 150-pound human.”
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