How much does it cost to treat a house for termites with heat?
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Termite Heat Treatment Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Termites are social wood-eating insects that play an important role in recycling wood and plant matter, although they are a huge pest for homeowners. That is because these tiny yet determined wood-eating bugs will chew through wood floors, walls, furniture, and supporting beams, ultimately impacting the overall safety and stability of your home. Luckily, there are several ways to eliminate termites from your home. Termite heat treatment is one of the most popular options if you’re looking for a non-chemical treatment. It involves heating the entire home to the appropriate temperature to kill termites hiding deep within the wood. This is a popular option for families with pets and young children that do not want to wait days for a harsh chemical process to be completed.
The average cost for residential termite heat treatment is $2,500 to $7,500, with most people paying around $5,000 for treatment on a 2,500 sq.ft. home. The low cost for this project would be $1,000 for heat treating a 1,000 sq.ft. home. On the high end, it costs $12,000 for termite heat treatment on a 4,000 sq. ft. home.
Termite Heat Treatment Cost
|Non Toxic Termite Control Prices|
|National average cost||$5,000|
How Does Termite Heat Treatment Work?
Termite heat treatment is an effective non-chemical process for eliminating termites from your home. This method has been popular for decades but has become even more common in recent years as homeowners look for environmentally-friendly ways to manage pest problems. Thermal pest control is a good way to target termites, bedbugs, and other burrowing insects that can infest homes in the hundreds or even thousands. For termites, the entire home is placed in a tent, much like what is used for fumigation, but no chemicals are used.
Pest professionals set up the tent and then use special heaters to blow heat throughout the entire home to heat the wood core to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermal kill temperature for termites. Each insect has a different maximum temperature at which it can survive. For termites, the temps inside all wood structures, including walls, floorboards, and furniture items, must stay between 120 and 140 degrees for 33 minutes. Due to these high temps, removing any heat-sensitive items from your house before the treatment starts is important.
Once the technician is satisfied the home has been appropriately heated to exterminate the termites, they remove the heaters and take down the tent as the house cools down quite quickly on its own. Unlike chemical treatments that require you to be out of your house for a few days, termite heat treatment only takes a few hours from start to finish, so you can return to your house the same day.
Termite Heat Treatment Cost per Square Foot
Termite heat treatment costs $1 to $3 per sq.ft. It costs about the same as fumigation or tenting and covers the entire home, which is why it is priced per square foot. Other more expensive options like baiting, barrier control, or micro treatment are priced per linear foot because they are used for a portion of the house, like the perimeter instead of the whole area. Below are the average costs for whole house termite heat treatment based on the square footage of your home.
|Square Footage||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|
Does Heat Treatment Work for Any Type of Termite?
Heat treatment works best on drywood termites that exclusively live in your home’s timber structures. While it can sometimes work on dampwood termites living within your home, they are likely to return. It is not ideal for subterranean and Formosan termites that burrow deep under the ground. While it kills these kinds of termites living in your walls, floors, and furniture, for the rest of the termite colony living underground, the insects could just come back and re-infest your home within a few days. That is why chemical methods such as fumigation, baiting, or wood treatments work better for subterranean, dampwood, and Formosan termites.
Termite Heat Treatment Pros and Cons
Termite heat treatment definitely has its advantages. Most importantly that it is non-toxic and much better for people, pets, and the surrounding area. If you live near water or a protected ecosystem, it is possible chemical treatment won’t be permitted, and you’ll have to choose heat treatment or another more expensive option. This process is affordable and does not leave behind a harmful residue, so you can come back in once the tent and heaters are cleaned up, which takes just a few hours compared to a chemical process that requires several days before you can re-enter.
However, there are a few downsides to termite heat treatment, mainly that it does not prevent future infestations. It’s more of a one-time pest control solution, as the lack of residue means it doesn’t stop termites from coming back. Also, the high temperatures required for heat treatment may affect heat-sensitive items in your home, so you will want to clear out anything that could melt in the pantry, phones, computers, and other valuables.
Termite Heat Treatment Preparation
Although termite heat treatment is much faster than chemical as it can be done in just a few hours, you still need to do a few things to prepare. Most importantly, you should remove any household items that could be damaged during heat exposure. This includes electronics, plastics, plants, candles, deodorants, corked wine bottles, and antibiotics. Also, make sure you take out any flammable aerosol cans and lighters.
You will need to leave the house for a few hours. Your pest control professional should provide an estimated timeline so you can plan ahead. They will also tell you which appliances need to be turned off before. Keep in mind that if you don’t remove items previously mentioned by the exterminator, any sustained damage to those items is not their liability.
Remember to turn off the AC in the morning if it is summertime, or turn the heat up in winter to support the heating process. Your pest control company also appreciates it if you clean up and declutter as much as possible before because they need to access the entire property to eliminate all the termites.
Pest professionals inspect your home before and after termite heat treatment. The initial inspection is especially important to understand the infestation and note the possible presence of other pests. During the pre-treatment inspection, an exterminator looks for drywood and subterranean termites, including signs of an infestation like mud tubes, wood damage, and swarms. Termite droppings, peeling paint, and live insects are other things they notice.
Once the inspection is completed, your exterminator will share their thoughts and confirm whether heat treatment or a different kind of extermination is recommended. They may also provide details on how large they think the infestation is and how long it may have been there. This pre-treatment inspection is included in the overall project costs.
Inspection After Treatment
After a termite heat inspection, the exterminator should offer a post-treatment inspection included in the total cost. During this inspection, they check wood floors, walls, and furniture to confirm whether the entire termite colony was successfully eradicated or not. In the rare case that they find more signs of termites right away, they may recommend subsequent treatment. This inspection may also note any items that were obviously damaged during heat treatment. However, it is generally the homeowner’s responsibility to cover the costs of any damage, especially when the exterminator provides a list of what to remove from your home before the heat treatment.
Termite Heat Treatment vs Fumigation
Termite heat treatment and fumigation are two of the most popular options for exterminating termites. While they are both priced at $1 to $3 per sq.ft., they are very different in that fumigation uses chemicals and heat treatment does not. Heat treatment uses special heaters to increase the temperature inside the wood to 120 degrees. When that temperature is maintained for at least 33 minutes, it kills all the termites inside. With fumigation, lethal chemicals are applied throughout the entire home to kill termites and other insects.
Generally, fumigation is considered more effective because it leaves a lasting residue that prevents termites from coming back. However, the chemicals are not very good for people, pets, or the environment. This kind of treatment may even be outlawed in your area if you live near water or a protected nature reserve. Also, due to the harsh chemicals, fumigation requires you to move out of your home for at least a few days. With heat treatment, you just need to be out of the house for around half the day. Then, you can come back in.
Both of these target the entire home and require a little bit of prep. With heat treatment, you need to remove plants, electronics, and other heat-sensitive items. With fumigation, you need to make sure all food is properly sealed to avoid contamination.
|Type||Average Cost per Square Foot (Labor Included)|
|Heat Treatment||$1 - $3|
|Fumigation||$1 - $3|
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Killing other insects with heat treatment. Some homeowners assume that a termite heat treatment kills any insect inside your home. However, each insect has a different thermal kill temperature, so if you want to kill other insects at the same time as termites, make sure you tell the professional so that they can adjust the temperature and heating times accordingly.
- Homes near water. Termite heat treatment is an ideal, non-chemical solution for homes near bodies of water. The EPA has stringent regulations for chemical termite treatments near lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, and other natural reserves. For the most part, the EPA bans chemical treatments in these locations because they can contaminate potable water and kill marine life.
- Does heat treatment work for termites?
Heat treatment for termites works by using special heaters to increase the internal temperature of wood structures inside your home to 120 degrees. This temperature needs to be maintained for at least 33 minutes to kill the termites. This method works great on drywood termites, but you will need chemicals for subterranean and Formosan termites.
- How long does termite heat treatment last?
Termite heat treatment takes around half a day for the full treatment, but unfortunately, it is a one-time solution. It will not prevent termites from returning to your home, and sometimes they may reappear within a few days, especially if you are dealing with subterranean termites living in the ground under your home. This is different from liquid options that can last for up to five years but use harsh chemicals that may be bad for animals and the environment.
- Who needs to pay for termite heat treatment, landlord or tenant?
Landlords should treat any pest problems before renters arrive. The lease itself should state what happens in the event of pest infestations during the rental period. At the same time, it is the tenant’s responsibility to minimize the possibility of pests by not keeping too much wood lying around to attract termites. Generally, if the infestation occurs after tenants move in, they are responsible for paying, unless it is noticed right after moving in and they want to negotiate. Keep in mind the rules may vary by rental contract and jurisdiction.
- How often should I repeat my termite heat treatment?
Unfortunately, termite heat treatment does not last for very long. You may need to repeat it every few months or at least once a year. It completely depends on whether there seems to be more termite activity at your home. If there are no signs of an infestation, you do not necessarily need to repeat it. Always ask your exterminator for their opinion on your property’s pest control needs.
- Is termite heat treatment covered by insurance?
For the most part, termite heat treatment and other pest control services are not covered by insurance. You can check with your insurer to be sure, but do not expect many policies to cover pest control because it can be so unpredictable and expensive. Most policies have a clause confirming they will not cover termite and pest control because infestations are preventable.