On average, termite treatment costs between $120 and $150. When combating an existing termite colony, pest control companies typically charge per linear foot, as opposed to the per-square-foot cost used for preventive treatments. How widespread your termite problem has become will determine cost and the extermination method required.
A termite infestation is a problem that will always get worse, never better. Termites colonize, meaning they set up camp in one place for the long haul, reproducing and growing over days, months, years and decades. Termites are an important part of the natural environment, breaking down decaying trees and other plant fibers, but they can be murder on your house. Termites have unique protozoa and bacteria in their gut that allow them to digest on cellulose — aka wood — and are therefore very attracted to the framing and structural elements of your home. They will even eat books, carpet backing, furniture and drywall.
Since millions of termites can live in a single colony, the insects are eating the wood of your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although termites typically pose no health risk to humans, they pose a serious financial risk. The EPA reports that each year homeowners spend over $2 billion treating termites, and the National Pest Management Association says that termites cause over $5 billion in property damage annually. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover termite damage, because inspecting for and preventing termite infestations is considered part of the homeowner's standard maintenance. This is why if you notice signs of termite activity, you need to act fast. The longer you wait to control a termite problem, the more costly the damage becomes. A termite control company can help eliminate an existing colony and protect your home from further damage. An untreated termite infestation in your home can cost tens of thousands of dollars as the house gets eaten from the inside out by these wood-consuming pests.
The three most common types of termites are subterranean, drywood and dampwood. Subterranean termites are the most prevalent and can be found in almost every part of the United States. Generally, the type of termite in your area depends on the environment. Dampwood termites are drawn to moisture-rich wood in the Pacific coastal area, the Southwest, and Florida; drywood termites are typically found in the Southern and coastal states; and a particularly aggressive type of subterranean termite, the formosan termite, is found in the Southern states, the Gulf Coast, California and Hawaii. Termites typically range from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length and have a broad waist and four wings of equal size. Subterranean termites enter a home from the ground up, building mud tubes to safely travel between the wood and their underground home. Subterranean colonies can become massive, teeming with millions of termites in one colony. All termites feed on wood; true to their names, dampwood termites like moisture-rich wood and drywood termites like dried-out wood.
If you suspect you may have termites, a thorough home inspection to assess the extent of the damage and the type of termite treatment needed is an excellent first step toward a treatment plan. Several factors affect the average cost of termite treatment from a professional pest control service.
Preventive termite treatment
Some termite control companies charge by the square foot for pre-construction preventive treatment plans. The cost per square foot usually covers labor, pesticide and the company's business overhead. Mauney's Termite Control in Monroe, North Carolina, works primarily with eastern subterranean termites, which enter homes from underground. Often with subterranean termites, the entire footprint of the home needs to be treated. Mauney's Termite Control charges 45 cents to 60 cents per square foot to treat a home for termites. The exact price depends on whether the home has a slab foundation or a crawl space. The company specializes in a liquid treatment called Termidor that is applied around the home's perimeter and drilled into the slab or concrete foundation areas. To treat a 2,000-square-foot ranch-style house with a crawl space, Mauney's Termite Control charges an average of $950. Many pest and termite treatments come with a one-year renewable and transferable warranty that averages $100-$125 per year.
Price per linear foot
It costs less to treat a pre-construction home for termites than it does to eliminate a termite colony that has taken up residence in your home. When combating an existing termite colony, pest control companies typically charge per linear foot, as opposed to the per-square-foot cost used for preventive treatments. Companies use different methods depending on the type of termite, the severity of the infestation and other factors. Popular methods include fumigation, pesticides and the use of natural substances — such as orange oil — that are toxic to the pests. How widespread your termite problem has become will also determine cost and the extermination method required. In extreme cases, when termites have made their way into all areas of your home, fumigation can be called for. The most costly solution, fumigation entails enclosing your entire home in a giant, circus-like tent and filling the tent with gas to permeate all parts of your house, killing all hatched termites within. Fumigation does not work for subterranean termites; to eliminate these pests, the entire footprint of the home must be treated by drilling and inserting liquid treatments into the slab or foundation of your home. Many pest management companies also offer maintenance plans with regular inspections and warranties that can be renewed annually. Here are some examples of average termite treatment costs.
- Liquid treatment of existing subterranean termite colony: $3-$4 per linear foot from Optimus Pest Solutions in Nolensville, Tennessee. Optimus Pest Solutions offers customers a maintenance plan for $75 per year. The plan includes inspection of the property and renewal of the warranty.
- Liquid treatment of existing subterranean termite colony: approximately $400 for a 2,000-square-foot home at $3-$5 per linear foot from On the Fly Pest Solutions in Apopka, Florida. The linear price per foot may be higher for foaming and drilling inside of concrete slabs.
- Fumigation treatment of drywood termites: $1,200-$1,500 for a 30,000- to 35,000-cubic-foot home from On the Fly Pest Solutions in Apopka, Florida. Unlike pesticides or repellents applied around the perimeter of the house, which is measured by linear foot, the cost of fumigation is measured by cubic feet. This is because the gas fills the airspace of the home to penetrate the wood where the termites are colonizing. The number of levels and square footage of your home will determine the cost of fumigation.
Signs of a termite infestation
If you're not sure if have termites, don't panic; you can hire a pest control professional to inspect your home, determine whether you have termites, and provide a quote. You can also look for these signs of trouble; the earlier you notice these warning signs, the better your chance to stop them before they do major damage to your home:
- Frass (also known as termite feces or termite droppings): This looks like sawdust-like piles near wood surfaces or elongated, pellet-shaped droppings, according to the Structural Pest Control Board of California.
- Bubble-like texture on your interior or exterior paint: If these bubbles are soft to the touch and contain frass, it's a sign that termites are eating away at the wood inside.
- Mud-like tubes or trails: Subterranean termites build these soil highways between their underground home and your house. They can be found on foundation walls, in basements, and in crawl spaces. The Structural Pest Board of California explains that these tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, although they can be larger. These mud tubes under or along the side of your house or foundation are a sure sign of a termite infestation.
- Swarming termites or shed wings: During spring as temperatures warm, swarmers — winged termites — swarm in search of new colony locations. If an exposed piece of wood provides a suitable location, the termites can shed their wings and burrow into the wood.
How do you get termites?
When you realize you have termites it's important to take action. Your house probably won't fall down within days of finding termite frass, but delaying by months or years can only make matters worse. Termites generally don't move out unless they are forcibly evicted. Depending on where you live, there are three main types of termites: drywood, dampwood and subterranean. Drywood termites swarm in spring as the weather warms, looking for new wood to colonize. The swarmers, which look like flying ants, fly in search of openings to enter the wood in your building. These openings include peeling or cracked exterior paint that leaves untreated wood exposed, nail holes, holes from hanging Christmas lights, gaps around windows or door frames, and other minuscule openings. As the name implies, subterranean termites creep up into your house from the soil below. They can build mud tunnels along basement or foundation walls, or sometimes just through the air, from the ground up to your home.
Warranties protect homeowners if termites return within a stated period of time. Some companies include a warranty in the cost of their services, and others offer a warranty for an additional fee. A professional contract should spell out exactly what is included in the total cost of treatment. Mauney's Termite Control charges an average of $100-$125 for a one-year, renewable and transferable warranty.
Extent of infestation
Professionals use a variety of different termite treatments, including fumigation (the entire house is enclosed in a tent and gassed), pesticides (liquid chemical poisons are applied topically or drilled into the house), and solutions that are naturally poisonous to termites such as concentrated orange oil. The more deeply the termites have infiltrated the home, the higher the cost for treatment. Heavy infestations may also call for multiple treatments, which will also increase costs.
Some simple preventive measures can save homeowners a lot of money compared with damage control after termites have entered a home. Here are some tips for keeping termites out:
- Termites generally won't eat through paint. Make sure you don't have peeling paint or cracks where they can sneak in.
- Keep foundation gaps caulked and sealed.
- Don't let leaking water lead to soggy wood that may draw dampwood termites in.
- Keep your crawl space dry with proper ventilation to deter moisture-loving subterranean termites.
- If you're concerned that you may already have termites, schedule an inspection as soon as possible.
- Proper grading and drainage (such as downspouts and gutters) help keep soil around the foundation dry, deterring subterranean termites.
- Deal with all home leaks immediately.
- Trim back trees or shrubs so they don't grow against exposed wood surfaces.
- Plant trees and shrubs away from the side of your home so you don't provide an easy bridge for termites.
- Store firewood away from the house so it does not draw termites toward your structure.
- Schedule regular termite inspections.
If you are considering buying a new home or are putting your property on the market, a wood destroying organism (WDO) report or termite inspection can give you key information about the true state of your home. You may also be required to have this special termite inspection done for insurance purposes or as terms of your mortgage. Your state's Department of Agriculture is typically the governing body that regulates the terms of the WDO inspection. This type of termite inspection is different than a pest inspection, which is done by a pest control company to assess whether you have pests and to recommend a course of treatment. A WDO inspection must follow specific guidelines and can be used for formal purposes to prove the presence (or lack) of wood-destroying organisms. These reports are particularly important for real estate transactions due to the high cost of damage that termites are able to do if they proceed undetected. The true value of a home may be less than it appears to be if it has been structurally compromised by termites. The cost for an official termite inspection varies by region and may cost $50 to $150 or more. Some companies may offer a free inspection if you agree to use their termite removal services.
How to hire a termite exterminator
It's easy to panic when you find out you have termites, but knowing is half the battle. Instead of rushing to hire the first person you find for the cheapest price, take time to do your research. A few extra days with termites in your house won't make a drastic difference — and be wary of any company that pressures you to act immediately with claims your house might collapse. Finding the right company will give you lasting results and save you money in the long term.
Start by researching pest control companies to make sure they hold the proper licenses. According to the EPA, "Each company must have at least one certified, licensed commercial pesticide applicator in the proper service category. Other company applicators must be certified applicators or licensed technicians under the direct supervision of an certified applicator." Ask to see the company's credentials, and ask what type of pesticide will be used and how it will be applied. Ask for references — and call those references. Reading online reviews also helps you learn about a company's integrity. Ask for bids from two or three companies, and be specific about what you need in your request for a bid: a wood-destroying insect report for a loan closing, an estimate for a termite treatment or a yearly inspection to make sure everything is going well. A clear request helps the pros provide you with better service. When signing a contract, make sure costs are spelled out clearly and that details of the warranty are included. The EPA explains that termite treatment warranties often last between one and five years.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right termite exterminator for your project. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.