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Termites in a new House?

Marsha was smarter than most people....

Thank you so much for your website on termites!  Your site was very helpful to me.

I had some bugs swarm next to my back door this year. I finally got around to calling a nationally known termite extermination company this month.  They are reputable--I even checked with the Better Business Bureau.  They sent out a gentleman to check the house today.  He said he saw no evidence of termites.  He said we did have some moisture ("not bad yet") under the house.  He recommended  replacing our vents with the automatic vents at a cost of $50 a vent (We have 17 vents).  And yes, they were running a special that they like to offer to special customers--$45 a vent.  He said closing the vents in the coldest weather would reduce the moisture under the house (I always thought keeping the vents open year-round would reduce the moisture the most).  He also said he would recommend a Sentricon or liquid termite treatment.  He gave me a quote of approximately $1500 for the termite treatment.

I told him that sounded steep for a three-year-old home with no evidence of termites.  Oh!  He smoothly said that if I could find the original papers, they could arrange to do it for $500.  I guess I am surprised that he did not ask the age of our house initially, considering that four houses are still under construction on our street.

As far as the moisture goes, I told him that when we moved in, we had  a fairly extensive system of drainage pipes put in around our house  (We were the first house built in the neighborhood and it seemed at the time that there was way too much water runoff).   "And, again, why would closing the vents prevent moisture buildup in the winter time?" I asked.

That bothered me a little  that he went so easily from $1500 to $500 on the termite treatment and could not explain the vents to me to my adequate satisfaction.   So, off to the Web I went and I found your site.  Oh, my goodness!  I  was ready to   become a classic textbook case of customer naiveté.  No evidence of termites and an initial quote of $2265!   Without your site, I might have swallowed his recommendations  hook, line and sinker.

Oh, I did look at your pictures of ants and termites.  We have had quite a bit of trouble with ants.  I think the swarming bugs were ants!  Their bodies were segmented and indented in the middle.  They were also very dark like ants' bodies normally are.  He did not inquire too much into what the swarming insects bodies looked like, of course.

Thank you so much.   I really appreciate your professionalism.

Do you have a subsidiary in North Carolina???

Marsha E

And I wrote back with....

Hello Marsha:

Why, thank you so much for your kind compliments!  I just noticed that my email indicates I have not responded to your note.  Am so sorry I missed it.  And, if I HAVE responded before this, and my email program is whacky, please excuse the second reply!

I am certainly happy to hear you saved all that money!  Sure would be a bummer to spend that much money for something you have no need for!  I hate that when it happens.

They're a big money-maker for some exterminators.  They cost only a few dollars and are a big markup for the salesman while the benefits of their "ventilation" are minimal.  Additionally, they are made out of plastic and subject to quite easy breakage.  They also sell some "powered" units with an integral fan for better ventilation.  They're generally not that useful either.

This can always be a problem in certain areas.  The drain system is the cure, and with 17 vents, it sounds as though you have enough for almost any house.  

Well, you can bet if the $1500 job wasn't worth it, the $500 job won't be worth it either!  And Sentricon?  I hear more bad than good.  Termite jobs are ethically done when the problem arises - or when PRE-treating a structure under construction.  SO MANY people get scared and then get sucked into dubious treatments - the best and the smartest too.

If you can peel the wings off, and it looks like an ant, it's an ant.  Take a few live samples and put them in a jar and place the jar on a sunny window.  If they're dead in a few hours, (ants will usually last days) and have shed their wings, they're termites.  When it happens, save a few of their wings and send them up.  I can tell from their wings.

Ha!  I can barely handle the one I've got!  Years ago, I realized that the only way I could handle everything the right way was to supervise or do everything myself.  Before that, I wanted (like everyone else) branches in every city.  I like it better this way.  But I sure thank you for the compliment!

Strangely enough, I used to live in NC, (Charlotte) many moons ago, also went to school there, still have fond memories.  Have also had a lot of many nice people write in from NC.  Maybe when I retire.......

Again, thank you for your nice note.  Write back if you have any questions I can answer.


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