Heat Treatment for Termites – Everything You Need to Know

One of the most popular methods of eradicating termites is through the use of heat. The heat treatment for termites uses fans and heaters that will circulate the hot air all over the affected structure. This will linger for a specific period until the exterminator guarantees that the pest has been entirely eradicated. Although effective, heat treatment isn’t one without some downsides.

For this post, we will discuss how the heat treatment process goes, its benefits, potential downsides, and the preparation needed before the treatment.

What is heat treatment?

The heat treatment for termites is conducted with the use of heaters that produce hot air. But before pumping hot air into your home, the entire structure will be sealed. Sometimes, tenting is also used here.

The goal here is to kill the termites with excessive heat. Since some species need moisture to survive, using heat becomes a toxic-free and efficient way in eradicating an infestation.

In this video, Corkys Pest Control tells us more about the heat treatment process:

Also, heat treatments are useful for massive infestations where termites are located in multiple areas of the house.

However, only licensed exterminators should perform this treatment. Take note that the temperature needs to be controlled and your home needs to be prepped before running the treatment. If you perform DIY heat treatment, you’re exposing your home to damages and even fire accidents.

Moreover, some areas, where chemicals can’t be used for termites, benefit the most from heat treatment. Still, this method comes with some downsides and potential risks (see below).

Advantages of heat treatment for termites

Heat treatments come with various benefits. The following are some of the advantages of availing the heat method:

*Zero chemicals

This treatment uses pure hot air in eradicating the termites. There are no harmful fumes that will be dangerous for the occupants. Also, this nature makes it faster to aerate.

*Fast kill

For just 35 minutes, the Drywood termites in your property will be killed by heat. This is fast sans the harm of inhaling fumes and being exposed to chemicals.

*Perfect for homes located near bodies of water

The EPA has strict rules when it comes to chemical termite treatments near bodies of water and other natural reserves. Most of the time, the EPA bans the use of chemicals in these locations since it can kill marine life and contaminate the potable water supply.

How do termites react to the heat?

heat treatment for termites

Various insects have different thermal kill points. This is the minimum temperature that can kill an insect upon exposure within a specific amount of time.

For example, Drywood termites will die in a 125F environment for at least 10 minutes. If the temperature is a notch higher at 130F, the termites will be eradicated for at least 6 minutes.

If you’re planning to hit many birds with one stone using heat treatment, it pays to know the following thermal kill points for common household pests:

German cockroach – 125F for 16 minutes | 130F for 7 minutes
Bed bugs – 125F for 3 minutes|130F for 1 minute
Argentine ant – 125F for 2.5 minutes | 130F for 1 minute

Take note that when it comes to heat treatment for termites, only the Drywood species can be fully eradicated. Sure, the same treatment can also kill almost all termite species. However, soil-burrowing types can easily spring back to your home’s timber parts a few days after the heat treatment.

Since the goal here is to eliminate the entire colony, you may need to explore other options when it comes Subterranean, Dampwood, and Formosan (most especially). For these species, chemical treatments like fumigation, wood treatments, and baiting work better.

When to use heat treatment for termites

The heat method is used for areas where chemicals can’t be administered. Also, it’s a common choice for homeowners who are environment-conscious since it doesn’t use any harmful chemicals.

Also, heat treatments are used for business establishments where chemicals can be dangerous to use.

In addition, this treatment is an option for termite-infested homes located near a body of water.

The heat treatment process

The termite heat treatment process starts and finishes on the same day. To give you an idea, here’s how the treatment process goes:

Step 1. Inspection of the structure

The first thing that an exterminator will do is to inspect your structure. They will locate where the termites are to plan the treatment. Also, they will gauge if heat treatment is safe for household based on the materials used in construction, among others.

Once the exterminator has finished inspecting your home, they will now move to the next step.

Step 2. Removal of appliances and other household items

At this point, you will be required to remove household items which can be damaged if exposed to heat. These are electronic devices, plastic wares, plants, and more. Also, everyone should vacate the house and all pets should be evacuated as well.

Moreover, the exterminator will advise which appliances you should shut down before the treatment. Take note that failure to remove the items that the exterminator mentioned isn’t their liability should it sustain damages.

Step 3. Sealing your home

After that, the exterminators will now shut your house. In the case of windows, they will use PE foam insulation sheets to trap the heat inside.

In some cases, they will use a tarp tent to cover your property. Anyway, tenting is typically used on detached structures like sheds and standalone garages.

Step 4. Setting up thermal probes and special hoses

The next step here is placing metal probes on the wooden beams of your home. This is necessary so the exterminators can monitor the temperature inside. Also, it will be their sensor if the wood has reached a temperature enough to kill the termites.

Also, they will position the special large hoses into the room or area that needs the treatment. These hoses will funnel the hot air from the heaters into your home.

Take note that heat treatment for termites is rarely done in the entire house at once. Most of the time, it’s used for attic and basement treatments where the termite population tends to be more concentrated.

Step 5. Running the heaters

Once everything is set, the exterminators will position the special heaters on your garage. They will run the heater until the thermal probes read a temperature of around 130F to 140F. In some cases, exterminators will use up to 160F of heat.

Once the ideal temperature is reached from within the wood, the exterminators will let it sit for at least 35 minutes.

Step 6. Monitoring

As the heaters are running, the exterminators are monitoring the temperature carefully. The thermal probes are connected to a special temp gauge device. This will give the exterminator exact readings of the wood’s internal temperature.

Step 7. Removal of the probes and hoses

After the 35-minute treatment, the heaters will be turned off and your house will be opened for ventilation. Take note that you’re not yet allowed to enter at this point. Aside from the temperature still at a high rate, the exterminators still need to inspect the place.

Step 8. Final inspection

For the final inspection, the exterminators will check if they successfully eradicated the termites. Also, they check for possible damages that the heat treatment could’ve caused.

In very rare cases when exterminators failed to kill the termites, a subsequent treatment could be performed. However, it could be for an additional cost depending on your agreement with the pest control company.

Potential risks of heat treatment

Although heat treatment for termites is chemical-free, it’s not exempted from potential hazards. The following are some of the accidents that may happen:

*Items can be damaged, burned, or melted if not removed before the treatment
*Some termites may flee if exit points aren’t sealed well
*If performed via DIY, it can lead to expensive damages on a house

Downsides of heat treatments

Aside from the potential risks, there are also some downsides to heat treatments. The following are some of the disadvantages of opting for heat treatments:

-It doesn’t provide protection against future infestations

Since heat treatments don’t use chemicals, it doesn’t leave residues within the structure. Such residues will contain a residual effect, which will continue to protect your home from termites for months.

After the heat treatment, your home is free for the termites to re-invade again. With that, you need to ask the exterminator of possible preventive measures you can implement to keep the pest from coming back.

-It’s advisable for attic treatments only

Take note that heat treatments are widely used for attic treatments only. It’s rare for exterminators to perform a full-house heat treatment due to the damage it can bring.

Nevertheless, attic spaces are where most termite infestations harbor. It has wood, moisture, and undisturbed darkness.

If not used on attics, heat treatment for termites will be administered in an isolated area of your home.

Preparation for the heat treatment

Heat treatments don’t require intensive preparation. All you need to do is to declutter and remove any items that could be damaged by excessive heat.

Still, for the sake of safety, you should perform the following prep steps:

*Unplug all your appliances

No matter if you’re going to remove it from your home or not, you should plug out any appliance or system. If possible, shut down the power inside your home unless the heaters have no other power source.

*Deal with the clutter

Your clutter provides a hiding place for termites. Also, it can be fire hazards, much so if you store aerosol cans and other flammable items.

Removing the clutter in your home will also make it easier for the exterminators to perform the treatment. Also, it will give way for the large hoses they will set up inside your home.

*Don’t leave any living things inside (except for the pest)

Always evacuate your pets before the treatment. When we say pets, it’s not just your furry babies. It also includes pet birds, fishes, arachnids, and more. Moreover, you should also remove house plants.

*Move out for a day or two

For your family’s safety, you should move out for the day and the next day after. This way, your home will be well-ventilated.

Heat treatment vs fumigation

Aside from heat treatments, fumigation is also one of the most used termite treatments in the U.S. But instead of hot air, the fumigation process uses chemical-infused gas to kill the pests.

In this case, fumigation requires tenting and the evacuation of the tenants. However, unlike heat treatment, you may need to move out longer to allow the fumes to settle.

Since fumigation uses toxic chemicals (Zythor, Vikane, Master Fume, etc.), it poses more risks to the occupants of the structure. Also, it’s not the most eco-friendly choice and it works for almost all termite species.

Still, fumigation offers better protection against the termites. It leaves residues that will keep shielding your home from future infestations. Also, fumigation can be used on a larger scale, sometimes an entire building.

However, it will cost more than heat treatments due to the chemicals used and the intensive tenting process.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that heat treatments are goners. Due to its safer nature, occupants of the structure can go back to the treated area after 4 to 8 hours. However, in chemical fumigation, the aeration process requires occupants to stay out for at least three days.

Final words

Heat treatment for termites is an efficient way to get rid of the pest. Also, it’s a safer alternative to chemical treatments that can cause health hazards.

Still, you should remember that heat treatment isn’t one without some disadvantages. You should always practice caution and always listen to what the exterminators recommend.

No matter what, never conduct DIY heat treatments. Always tap the help of licensed exterminators to ensure that the pest will be eradicated and your home won’t sustain damages.

What do you think of heat treatments? Do you have more suggestions? Let us know below in the comment section!