Dear Angie: My husband and I live in an apartment over a church, and the building has termites. Some of the roofing structure has been affected, along with areas where water damage has occurred from faulty plumbing of drainage areas.
How do we solve the termite problem? During hot days, swarms fill the bathroom and bedroom windows while we are at work. We spray what is supposed to be termite control, but still they exist. My husband has drilled holes and filled them with termite insecticide, and still the termites rule. — Shirley J., Los Angeles
Answer: I think there are a couple of issues you need to address.
First, if you're renting an apartment, your landlord or property management company might be financially responsible to address any pest control issues you're having with termites. Check the terms of your lease agreement and talk to your property manager about the problem. You can spot-treat your apartment all you want, but if the entire building is infested, it won't do any good.
The second issue is the water damage. Termites thrive in wood that is moist. Until you — or your landlord — address the water damage, you'll probably continue to experience issues not only with termites and other pests, but the potential for that water damage to spread and affect other areas of your home. Eventually, you could end up with mold, which can cause a host of health problems to anyone living there.
Because termites are attracted to wood and moist areas, I recommend you check to see whether there's something attracting them to your home, like wood stacked near the structure, tree branches leading to the roof, or gutters filled with leaves, branches and other debris.
As far as addressing the termite issue, if it turns out you are responsible to treat the damage, I think it's time you call in a professional. Depending on the extent of the damage, the remedy could be a simple, one-time spot treatment, or it could involve a series of extensive treatments to the entire structure.
Termites are big business for the pest control industry and cost homeowners $5 billion a year in damages, according to the National Pest Management Association.
Treatment costs can range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000. That's why it's critical to find a trustworthy pest control company that is certified to treat termites, can honestly assess your situation and offer the most effective solution.
If a pest control technician recommends a high-priced treatment, seek a second and third estimate to ensure you're not being deceived.
Pest control companies must be licensed. Check, too, that your provider is insured and follows Integrated Pest Management principals, in which minimal chemicals are used to address the pest issue.
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