How to Treat Your Home for Subterranean Termite Infestation

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How to Treat Your Home for Subterranean Termite Infestation
How to Treat Your Home for Subterranean Termite Infestation

The subterranean termite is usually invisible, inside your walls, eating away at your home. There's no better time than now to stop those voracious termites. Even if you don't see termites, you can pre-treat and head them off before they start their feast.

Things You'll Need

  • Termiticide
  • Shovel
  • Sprayer with extension
  • Respirator
  • Thick vinyl gloves
  • Drill
  • Long extension cord

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Take a trip to the local hardware store. Ask for a strong termiticide. Buy or rent a strong sprayer for the chemical. If you have a slab foundation, buy or rent a long nozzle - approximately half the length of the widest point of your house. This is for spraying under the slab of the house. If you have a home supported by piers or pillars, you might still want an extension, but not necessarily as long.

Don't forget protective equipment for your skin and face. The chemical and its fumes are harmful, possibly even fatal to inhale. Exposure to the skin could be every bit as dangerous. Many termite chemicals are known carcinogens.

Ask a knowledgeable hardware store employee for any explicit advice, suggestions or warnings. Heed the warnings. If the hardware clerk seems to be less than knowledgeable, find a different store. Always read every label carefully when working with chemicals.

Be sure to know the linear footage around the exterior of any structure you wish to treat. Also know the square footage for treating beneath the structure.

When treating a slab built home, first dig a hole by the slab every 3 to 4 feet around the entire perimeter. Be sure the holes are deep, wide and long enough that the nozzle for the sprayer can extend parallel to the underside of the slab. You want to be sure the sprayer can lie flat in the hole. You do not want to insert the nozzle into the ground at a downward angle.

Insert the nozzle into the dirt under the slab a few inches before pulling the trigger on the sprayer. This will help to minimize any splash back. Alternately push and pull the nozzle underneath the slab, allowing the pressure of the chemical to force the nozzle farther and farther under the slab. Allow it to work itself in slowly. Be sure to keep it as close to the underside of the slab as possible by pushing down gently on the sprayer, therefore lifting the nozzle.

The chemical will spread under the slab about 2 feet in all directions, offering complete coverage. Don't stop pushing or spraying until the nozzle has progressed as far as it will go.

Once it has reached its limit, leave it at that point for a few seconds, continuing to spray. Now slowly begin to extract the nozzle, pulling it out as you back away from the house. Maintain the level attitude of the nozzle, pulling slowly until you see the chemical as it exits the slab area.

After treating underneath the slab, insert your nozzle into the ground at equal distance between two of the holes you've dug. After the nozzle is approximately 8" deep, pull the trigger and expel chemical into the ground. Leave the nozzle at its maximum depth, keeping the trigger pulled for approximately 6 or 8 seconds. Then slowly extract the nozzle until you see the ground begin to bulge. Extract the nozzle and repeat this procedure between all the holes until you've sprayed the entire perimeter. If you've allowed the spray to enter the ground slowly, it will have covered the entire perimeter of the house, as well as the subsurface of the slab.

Good job!

For a house built off grade or off the ground (on piers), there is an entirely different procedure. First knock off and destroy any visible mud tunnels. You may be surprised to find thousands of live termites inside these tunnels as you destroy them.

Then drill holes in all hollow block piers. Insert the shorter nozzle into the holes of each pier and flood with chemical for approximately 8 seconds.

Use the short nozzle to inject chemical into the ground on every side of every pier, using the same method we described for the exterior of the slab (above) when treating a slab built house.

Lying down at on the ground, spray the ground surface under the house to the point of saturation. Be sure to include every exterior surface of every pier, or support. Be careful not to crawl in sprayed areas.

After you're finished, be sure to fill any holes to keep your children or pets from coming in contact with these chemicals.

Never plant anything close enough to the house to disturb the soil close to the house. Also be sure the plants are far enough from the structure that the matured plant won't contact the house.

With slab built homes, try to keep a space of at least 4" between the ground and any wood siding or other product. Never connect an untreated wooden fence, storage shed or other structure to your house.

Tips & Warnings

  • After treatment, watch for and destroy new mud tunnels regularly
  • Always read and follow warnings and instructions provided with materials.
  • Consider the effort, time, danger and expense.
  • Strongly consider using a reputable professional for this job
  • Simple trenching around the house is not doing the job completely
  • Consider adding a small fence or bushes 3'to 4' from the perimeter for safety
  • Wash thoroughly and immediately after exposure to chemicals
  • Keep animals and children away from chemicals
  • Do not disturb treated areas. This could nullify effectiveness of treatment
  • Remember: These chemicals are dangerous to all life.
  • Thoroughly wash equipment and body.
  • Do not inhale fumes.
  • Never allow wood to ground contact, including mulch and plants
  • Copyright 2009 Rufus Surles. All rights reserved. Permission to link to this article in its original form granted.
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