How much does it cost to treat a house for bed bugs with heat?
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Bed Bug Heat Treatment Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Bed bugs pose a significant threat to your home, furniture, health, and quality of sleep. These tiny, microscopic insects invade anything from mattresses to pillows, comforters, and even in baseboards of the home. These bed bugs cause painful and itchy bumps to develop after they feast on your skin. Unfortunately, they are also very difficult to get rid of and often require homeowners to replace all furniture items and seek professional help. One of the most eco-friendly ways you can get rid of bed bugs is through bed bug heat treatment. This treatment works by heating the home to a couple hundred degrees Fahrenheit and killing off bed bugs without chemicals.
The average cost of bed bug heat treatment is between $2,500 to $7,500. An average home of about 2,500 sq.ft. costs about $5,000 to treat. Some jobs for a 1,000 sq.ft. home might be as little as $1,000. On the higher end, you can pay up to $12,000 for a 4,000 sq.ft. home. The bed bug heat treatment price depends on the size of your home.
Bed Bug Heat Treatment Cost
|Non-Toxic Bed Bug Heat Treatment Price|
|National average cost||$5,000|
How Does Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Work?
Bed bug heat treatment involves using professional heating equipment to heat the temperature inside a house to kill off bed bugs. This equipment is capable of heating your home to around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures kill off bed bugs and their eggs. Thermal death points for bed bugs and their eggs are slightly different, but both should die after being exposed to a 118 degrees Fahrenheit temperature for 90 minutes. This treatment takes around six to eight hours to be completed.
Set up involves moving furniture into the center of the room and opening all cabinet drawers for maximum air flow. Professionals then set up industrial-strength air movers in every room and direct drive bed bug heaters outside the home that are heated using electricity or propane. A duct system is then installed throughout your home to guide heat into rooms that need treatment. Individual rooms are then sealed off with thermal blankets to trap heat inside.
Bed Bug Heat Treatment Cost per Square Foot
Heat treatment is a holistic method that treats the whole house. It is priced by the square foot, unlike other methods that target specific areas. However, this treatment may be charged differently. The bed bug heat treatment price is $1 to $3 per sq.ft. Although the heat treatment for bed bugs price per sq.ft. is not too high, costs escalate up to $12,000 if treating a large house of around 4,000 sq.ft.
|Size of House||Cost (Labor Included)|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$1,000 - $3,000|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$1,500 - $4,500|
|1,800 sq.ft.||$1,800 - $5,400|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$2,000 - $6,000|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$3,000 - $9,000|
|4,000 sq.ft.||$4,000 - $12,000|
Does Heat Treatment Work for Any Type of Bed Bug?
There are only two types of bed bugs that feed on humans: common and tropical. Common bed bugs are what exterminators usually deal with on most occasions. Tropical bed bugs are usually imported and are rarer in the United States.
Regardless of the type of bed bug you have at home, professional heat treatment will successfully eliminate them and their larvae. Common bed bugs are usually resistant to some chemicals, so heat treatment is a good choice to get rid of them. This type of treatment should also work for tropical bed bugs. Suppose you suspect that the species of bed bugs that you have is tropical because you started to find them after traveling to Asia, Africa, or South America. In that case, it is always a good idea to talk to your professional and let them know. The more information they have, the easier it will be for them to choose the best course of action.
Bed Bug Heat Treatment Pros and Cons
Heat treatment is relatively new and serves as a good alternative to chemical methods. Since it does not use chemicals, it is considered an incredibly eco-friendly option that will interest anyone determined to lower their carbon print. Heat treatment is around 95% effective at killing off bed bugs and works at any stage of the bug's life, from egg to adult. It is also useful for any size of infestation, from small to severe ones.
Compared with other tenting methods such as bed bug fumigation, heat treatment has several advantages, such as the fact that not using chemicals allows the homeowner to come back to the house in several hours, instead of looking for accommodations for a couple of days. This reduces the overall cost of the project.
Although very effective, heat treatment is not one of the cheapest options to get rid of bed bugs. The fact that the whole house is treated at once makes it substantially more expensive than other spot treatments that deal with smaller areas. Plus, one of the main concerns of homeowners when choosing a heat treatment is damage to furniture and personal items. Since the house needs to reach a quite high temperature, everything susceptible to melting or being damaged needs to be removed or properly sealed.
Bed Bug Heat Treatment Preparation
As we mentioned earlier, one essential part of using heat treatment is the preparation phase. You have to remove any flammable objects or objects that will be damaged due to heat. This includes electronics, cosmetics, candles, lighters, and flammable aerosol sprays that pose safety issues. Keep in mind other items you would not immediately think to remove, such as wooden instruments, oil paintings, wax figurines, laminated or old photographs that might be damaged from heat, fresh foods, and medications. You should also take your pets with you when leaving the house. Heat is as dangerous for them as it is for humans. Make sure to remove any bunched up clothing or bedding where bed bugs can hide during heating treatment and lay them flat out so maximum surface areas can be treated.
In addition to removing flammable items and preparing your clothing, you should also unplug all electronics before heat treatment begins. If you live in a particularly cold environment, you should turn on your heating system to aid in the heat treatment. Just the opposite, living in extreme heat might make you turn your AC on during the day. Make sure to turn it off, so treatment is as effective as possible.
Before you begin bed bug heat treatment, a professional will examine whether or not the issues you are dealing with are due to bed bugs in the first place. Bed bugs are extremely difficult to detect due to their microscopic size, especially with eggs and larva. Professionals will look for infestation in common areas such as mattresses, bed boards, bedding, and seams in your couches and bed.
If it is determined you have a bed bug infestation, professionals give you recommendations and a pre-inspection checklist of items to remove from your home before treatment. If other insects might not be eliminated with heat alone, they will let you know.
Inspection After Treatment
Most bed bugs won't return right after treatment. However, a professional will still inspect after treatment to determine if more sessions are needed. Inspections after treatment are also used to help you learn how to prevent future infestations from occurring. Having these findings and following recommendations are just as important as the heat treatment itself to prevent bed bugs from coming back.
Heat Treatment vs Chemical for Bed Bugs
Heat treatment is different from chemical treatment for bed bugs. Heat treatment only uses heating machines, while chemical treatment involves the use of pesticides and insecticides. During heat treatment services, a tent covers the entire house and prevents heat and fumigation gases from escaping. Chemical treatment, on the other hand, focuses on spot treatments in individual rooms.
Heat treatment is achieved by either using electrical heaters or blowing hot air through your home's vents using propane tanks placed outside the home. Professionals place sensors inside the home to monitor the heat levels to make sure they are hot enough to kill bed bugs. Unlike chemical treatment, you can expect to be home only hours after the treatment begins.
|Type of Treatment||Cost per Sq.Ft. (Labor Included)|
|Heat Treatment||$1 - $3|
|Chemical Treatment||$2 - $4.50|
Heat Treatment vs Steam for Bed Bugs
Steam treatment is similar to heat treatment in that it uses high temperatures to kill bed bugs. However, in steam treatment, specific areas of the home can be targeted to kill off pests. Industrial-sized steamers are used to kill bed bugs at high temperatures of 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Steam treatment is only effective if bed bugs are on the surface of an object and can only penetrate 3/4" into surfaces. Heat treatment, on the other hand, uses residual heat to kill bed bugs on virtually every surface of a home, not just a specific area like steam treatment.
|Type of Treatment||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Heat Treatment||$1 - $3/sq.ft.|
|Steam Treatment||$250 - $1,000/room|
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Killing other insects with heat treatment. Different infestations can be happening in your home all at once. Heat treatment can help kill off infestations from other bugs such as termites, fleas, stink bugs, and cockroaches. However, heat treatment will not work on other insects such as flies and hornets.
- Homes located near bodies of water. The EPA has strict guidelines on safe, potable drinking water. If you live near the water, it is important to use chemicals only approved by the EPA for bed bugs, such as biochemicals and insect growth regulators. Using other chemicals can seep underground and taint the water supply around your home. You will not have to worry about this with heat treatment.
- Reappearance. Bed bugs can hide in crawl spaces, behind outlets, against pipes and foundations. All these places are naturally cool and can cause a reappearance in bed bugs. It is important to understand that heat treatment might not be effective at getting rid of bed bugs if they have avoided the heat. A post-treatment inspection provides you with more information.
- Does heat treatment work for bed bugs?
Heat treatment works for bed bugs at any stage of life. From eggs to larva and grown adults, heat treatment gets rid of bed bugs that have grown resistant to chemicals. All bed bugs die off at about 113 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
- How long does heat treatment for bed bugs take?
Bed bugs will die off at 118 degrees Fahrenheit in about 20 minutes. However, to ensure all areas of your home are treated, bed bug treatment takes between six and nine hours in total.
- Who needs to pay for bed bug heat treatment, landlord or tenant?
Your specific lease determines who pays for treatment. In general, if bed bugs were present before moving in, then the landlord would pay for treatment. If bed bugs occurred due to a tenant bringing in old furniture or other reasons, they would generally have to pay for bed bug treatment.
- How often should I repeat my bed bug heat treatment?
Unlike insecticides, bed bug heat treatment results are permanent. Unless you have leftover bed bugs that were not affected by the heat, you will not have to repeat another treatment. Your bed bug professional will inform you of any changes to this guideline.
- Is bed bug heat treatment covered by insurance?
Unfortunately, most bug infestations and exterminator costs are not covered by insurance. Unless you specifically requested this service, it is more than likely your home or renters insurance will not pay for treatment.
- When can I go back home after a bed bug heat treatment?
You can go back home the same day after treatment. Because there are no chemicals used during treatment, there is no need to wait besides for your home to cool down.
- What temperature does the house reach in a bed bug heat treatment?
Homes can reach up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why it is important to unplug all electronics and take any flammable items with you before treatment.
- Can a hot box kill bed bugs?
A hot box, also known as a heat chamber, can kill off bed bugs on specific items, such as clothing, bedding, and smaller items. These hot boxes kill eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs. It is important to use the manufacturer's directions to prevent fires and accidents while using a hot box. Although a hot box can kill bed bugs on specific items, it will not kill them off in your entire house.