Structural Pest Control Section
A Homeowner's guide to
Termite Control Service Agreements and Warranties
Subterranean Termite Control
Each year, subterranean termites attack thousands of homes. The termite colony or "nest" is most commonly located in the ground. From there, they forage for food and will often attack the wood in homes as a food source and can cause significant structural damage. The purpose of termite control is to prevent termites from feeding on a structure. Because of the specialized equipment needed to perform a termite treatment, a licensed pest control operator (PCO) is needed to perform these procedures. In addition to the conventional termite treatment (liquid), termite baits can also be used for termite control. Unlike conventional soil applied insecticides, baits/monitoring systems can be used in situations where conventional termiticide applications are considered too difficult or unacceptable by the homeowner. The use of baits for termite control is a relatively new technology and cannot be compared easily to a conventional treatment in terms of their effectiveness.
Pest control operators are licensed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS), Structural Pest Control Division (SPCD). The SPCD enforces compliance with the Structural Pest Control Law and rules by routinely inspecting structural pest control work, investigating complaints and performing administrative duties related to examinations and the issuance of licenses, certified applicator cards and registered technician cards.
What should I do if termites are discovered in my house?
If termites are discovered in, on or under your structure. DO NOT PANIC. Termites will not cause significant structural damage in a matter of weeks. Do not be rushed into a termite control program. It is more important to select a "reputable" pest control company. Use the following information to evaluate termite treatment proposals and options. Before you sign any service agreements, make sure that you understand the terms and the conditions of the agreement.
All proposals for termite control must include the following information:
1. An initial inspection.
2. A detailed treatment proposal.
3. A complete treatment plan.
4. The service agreement should be discussed with your PCO so that each of you fully understands the provisions such as re-treatment (s), damage repair or replacement, and guarantees.
5. Continuing service agreement or warranty. (These agreements should be discussed with your PCO to make certain you fully understand all provisions in the agreement.
An inspection by a qualified pest control technician is the first and most important step in protecting your property against termites. The purpose of the inspection is to determine if termites have infested the structure and to develop a specific treatment plan based on the type of construction.
The pest control technician should:
Locate individual water sources.
Visually inspect all accessible areas of the structure, both inside and outside.
Probe and/or sound accessible wooden areas of the structure that are prone to termite attack.
Identify inaccessible or obstructed areas and make recommendations for gaining access to those areas not currently available for treatment.
Identify and note any visible evidence of termite infestation and recommend how to correct the conditions.
Note conditions that are conducive to termite infestations and recommend how to eliminate or to correct the conditions.
A qualified technician is trained to look for visible signs of subterranean termite infestation. The technician cannot inspect behind walls and paneling, into wall voids, under floor coverings, beyond ceiling panels, or through other cosmetic coverings that may be part of your home.
It is possible that insect activity and /or damage may be present and remain undetected even after a thorough inspection.
Based on the findings from the inspection, the proposal may include several treatment options. These options may include a soil treatment, termite baits, physical barriers, mechanical alteration, foundation and wood treating. The most common method of treatment for subterranean termites is called a conventional treatment (liquid treatment). The goal is to create a continuous pesticide barrier in the soil. This procedure is designed to kill termites on contact and /or repel the foraging termites away from the structure.
As stated earlier, baits can be used as an alternative (in some cases supplement) to soil-applied termiticides. Termite baiting is a relatively new concept and cannot be compared easily to conventional termite treatments in terms of their effectiveness. Baits take advantage of the social nature and foraging behavior of subterranean termites. Foraging worker termites consume the bait and share it with the rest of the colony, resulting in a slow colony decline or eventual elimination.
The treatment proposal should include specific information about the treatment. The pest control technician must measure and graph or sketch the structure for proper application rates/volume and pricing if termite evidence is detected or when a proposal is issued. All such treatment(s) must be made in accordance with the Structural Pest Control Law and Rules. (See Termite Control Contracts). If there is anything you do not understand regarding the termite treatment proposal, stop and ask the salesperson or company representative to explain the proposal in more detail.
There are many conditions and/or structural characteristics that can cause even the most professionally applied materials to be less effective than desired. You should discuss any such conditions with your PCO after the inspection and consider correcting those conditions where possible. As a property owner, you want to ask the technician, why he/she chose a particular treatment plan(s).
As with any termite control product, we recommend that you read all available literature about the product and the service. Make sure you understand how the product will work and what guarantee(s) the pest control company will provide to protect your home from further termite attack and damage.
Termite Control Contracts
All contracts or agreements for the control or prevention of wood-destroying organisms in structures must be in writing and must include the following as well as other items:
1. License number and phase(s) of the licensee and full name of company licensee represents;
2. Foundation diagram must indicate whether the infestation is active or inactive.
3. The diagram must show location of any visibly damaged timbers.
4. Whether or not re-inspections are to be made and, if so, approximate time interval between.
5. Conditions under which re-treatments will be made.
6. Total price to be charged for treatment service.
Each company's contract is different, and the terms, conditions, limitations, and requirements vary from company to company. Before you enter into a contract or agreement, take the time necessary to read and understand each part of your service agreement/contract and ask your salesperson about any language or provision that is not clear to you. You should also understand how the services are to be carried out and what responsibilities you may have as a homeowner (providing access, removing pets, payment terms, disclosure of structural deficiencies, hidden areas, routine property maintenance, etc).
Termite Warranties and Agreements
Most PCOs will offer a renewal or additional inspections for a specified period of time at an additional cost. These agreements may indicate re-treatment or damage repair. Such agreements, sometimes referred to as a contract or warranty, are not an assurance that termites will not return, but provide for corrective action to be taken as specified in the agreement. The purpose of periodic inspections following an initial treatment is to determine whether the treatment was effective and if termites are present inside the treatment barrier. Follow-up inspections are limited to all visible or accessible areas, including crawl spaces, and should be conducted as indicated in the agreement issued by the PCO.
1) RE-TREATMENT ONLY. Under this type of agreement, the PCO will provide additional treatment(s) if termites are discovered in the structure after the initial treatment and during the service agreement period. This agreement does not obligate the PCO to repair, replace, or correct any damage caused by the termites. This is the most common practice in the industry. Most service agreements are for a period of one-year following an initial treatment.
2) RE-TREATMENT AND DAMAGE REPAIR. Not all PCOs provide such an agreement, and typically, the structure must meet certain criteria to qualify under this agreement. Generally, under this agreement, the PCO is obligated to repair, replace, or correct damage to the structure up to a certain amount. This agreement covers damage occurring after the initial treatment and during the service agreement period. If your service agreement includes such a provision, you should be absolutely certain that you understand the obligations you must fulfill in order to continue to be eligible for this agreement.
3.) NO GUARANTTEE/WARRANTY. Following an initial treatment, the PCO may not offer to enter into an agreement that would provide either re-treatment or a damage repair agreement. The absence of any such service agreement should be clearly indicated in you agreement. Conclusion
Each year, subterranean termites attack thousands of homes. Do not panic if termites are discovered in, on or under your home. An inspection by a qualified pest control technician is the first and most important step in protecting your property against termites. Based on the findings from the inspection, the proposal may include several treatment options. Remember all contracts or agreements for the control or prevention of wood-destroying organisms in homes must be in writing. A service agreement or warranty can provide a beneficial service to consumers. However, as a consumer, you should understand all service agreements and warranties before signing as well as understanding all of the information contained within the agreement(s). Any follow-up inspections should be performed by qualified termite inspectors and should include all areas of the previously treated structure(s) that may be prone to termite infestation. Periodic inspections by your licensed pest control operator are necessary in the implementation of a sound termite control plan.
For additional information regarding structural pest control termite control service agreements and warranties, please contact:
NCDA&CS Structural Pest Control & Pesticide Division, James W. Burnette, Jr., Director
Mailing Address: 1090 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1090
Physical Address: 2109 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: (919) 733-6100 ; FAX: (919) 733-0633