If you’re unfortunate enough to discover your home is infested with termites it can come as a pretty big shock. For most home owners there is no visible clue of what is lurking in the walls but when the living room fills up one spring morning with vast numbers of flying termites people are forced into action. The second big whammy is getting estimates for the work needed to be done to get rid of them, termite work can be costly. Even modest homes can run you a couple thousand dollars or more in some cases. Prices are mostly arrived at by linear feet but construction type, attached slabs, veneers, treatment by termite baiting or termite liquid and other factors come into play as well. There are even termite price calculators on line and by simply typing in a little information about your home you’ll see what I mean.
Well, you made the terrible discovery, paid the big bucks to have the job and even though you have some trampled bushes, drill marks in your front porch and around your foundation it’s all done now so maybe that wasn’t so bad. Uh- did they tell you about your annual renewal? Most good termite inspectors will but I’ll admit I’ve slipped up over the years and in the frantic rush to talk about the treatment and get the job done- it’s sometimes easy to forget this little detail. Almost every company I know of only guarantees their work one year at a time and at the end of that year they charge a renewal fee to extend the contract another 365 days. For many homeowners this tid bit can go right over their head even as they’re signing the contract and so when they get the bill a year later it can be somewhat of a surprise. This cost is usually $200 or less but to add salt to the wound it comes with only an inspection and no spraying. Most if not all liquid termiticide labels DON’T ALLOW additional treatments if there is no need. This has sent some customers over the edge and I’ve lost a few clients who demanded treatments as part of their annual renewal. Obviously in these situations there was a communication break down and as stated I am guilty in a few situations but getting grilled to a crisp and then fired a couple times kind of gets the tongue rolling. If anything now after 30 years, I probably talk too much– Nooo not me!
Ok, so now you know you’ve got to pay for a handsome guy like myself to prance around your property once a year, at least if you get termites you know it’ll be taken care of. So the years roll by & no signs of termites. You only semi resent the fact that your guy won’t spray every year and since he doesn’t do much you don’t even take off work anymore to meet him. Life’s not perfect but now this is one thing you can finally put behind you.
The 5 Year Termite Trap
When I got into the business termite contracts were for life and to be honest I don’t know when it changed. Now a days termite contracts are for the most part only good for 5 years and for the majority of termite customers this is by far the biggest surprise of all. It starts as your normal annual renewal call but turns quickly into a scene from the movie Ground Hog Day. You learn that the original contract is now over and in order to keep termite protection on your home you’ll have to sign up for and have a brand new job. Now instead of your $200 dollar renewal you might get a quote close to or more than the original cost. For many people caught unaware by this clause in their contract this is too much and they cancel all ties with the service company. In my little neck of the woods I get 20 or more jobs per year because the people are so angry with the termite company. They know they need the protection but at this point they’re not giving another dime to that company because they feel they’ve been hood winked.
Why 5 Years?
With chemicals so advanced now days and residual tests proving that products last 10 years or more why such a short life on the contract? The biggest reason is that chemicals DON’T last as long as advertised on the exterior perimeter of a structure. The tests that most chemical manufacturers tout are real and even done in the woods where termites are in great abundance but these are slab tests. In other words the products are sprayed on the soil and then covered with cement. Rain, sprinklers, erosion, heat, sunshine, landscaping and plant root growth are just a few common enemies of a termite barrier and begin taking a toll quickly. Termitcide that is protected by 4 inches of concrete will for obvious reasons last longer. So while you may have a a strong barrier beneath your patio slab, after 5 years you might have very little under the flower garden in front of your bay window. This is a risk that many companies do not want to take beyond 5 years. I mentioned that most termite products do not allow for retreats and this is true. Pounding the soil year after year with needless chemical is not really wise but there are a few exceptions for most products. You can retreat if; #1, if reinfestation occurs with live termites. #2, the barrier is removed or destroyed and #3 if there is no enforceable contract. By voiding the contract the termite company limits its risk with the fading barrier and can now treat your home giving you and them a brand new start.
Is It Fair?
Had I written this article just a few years ago I might have a whole different theme and bashed ‘said’ termite firms for a bait and switch operation. Truth be told, some out fits do operate like this and need to be bashed. (I just bash em quietly while I’m in line at the deposit window of the bank) I see this used as a cheap sales tool all the time but since it is in writing on a contract you signed there is little that can be done. Customers can get so furious when they feel they’ve been mislead. However I’m glad to say that most companies don’t operate this way- Oh they still only offer 5 years, it’s just that they have been honest about what you can expect and the limitations even of the best technology. So when it comes to long term termite protection you may have to put up with a reoccurring theme just like the Bill Murray movie. But maybe now you can appreciate why and not let it ‘Drive you angry’.