Termite Tenting: Does It Really Work?

The short answer: Yes.

Tenting does work. But how successful the treatment is will depend on the specific type of termite infesting your home.

Tenting is highly effective with drywood termites.

That is true for both heat and fumigation.

In one study, tenting with heat was able to kill 99% of drywood termite consistently.

And this study shows that fumigation with sulfur fluoride was able to eliminate 97% of termites.

Tenting is highly effective on drywood termites because they live inside the wood.

And any fumes or heat used during tenting can seep into the wood and kill them.

Tenting is not effective for subterranean termites.

That’s because tenting does not work well in soil.

And subterranean termites live primarily in the soil.

If you use tenting to kill subterranean termites in a structure, you’ll need to do a separate treatment to kill the termites hiding inside the soil.

Tenting is not an effective or cost-friendly way of eliminating dampwood termites. 

The soil and moisture that Dampwood termites usually nest near offer protection against the gas and heat used during tenting. 

A more effective way is to:

  • Use localized treatment in the infested areas.
  • Use a soil treatment to create a barrier around your home.  
  • Eliminate sources of moisture.

Is Tenting Necessary?

Tenting termites is necessary if you have a large Drywood termites infestation. 

Fumigation and heat tenting are the only way to eliminate a significant termite infestation from a structure. 

 

If you have a Dampwood or Subterranean termites infestation, tenting is not necessary.

 

There are other effective ways you deal with both types of termites other than tenting. 

What Is the Difference Between Tenting and Fumigation?

Tenting refers to the process of applying a tent over a structure to contain a pest control treatment.

Fumigation is a type of pest control treatment that involves releasing gaseous pesticides or fumigants to kill pests.

Fumigating a home requires tenting.

Tenting allows the insecticidal gases to penetrate the structure and kill pests.

Using a tent is also necessary for thermal treatment.

Thermal or heat treatment involves raising the air temperature to levels lethal to pests.

To keep the heat in the structure, professionals cover it with a tent.

Do Termite fumigation have side effects?

The chemicals used during fumigation are toxic.

But you should not experience any side-effects from fumigation if you do not enter the building before the gas has had sufficient time to dissipate.

The U.S. EPA requires that occupants not re-enter the structure until the sulfuryl fluoride level is less than one ppm.

Do not take this lightly.

Two of the most common chemicals used in fumigation are sulfuryl fluoride and chloropicrin.

Sulfuryl fluoride is a harmful substance to all living organisms–including people.

As such, all occupants must leave the building before the fumigation starts.

They must also remain absent until the gas disappears.

That said, the level of absorption for sulfuryl fluoride by materials inside the building is low.

Sulfuryl fluoride is made of gas.

As such, it does not leave a pesticidal residue.

Once the gas dissipates, it declines to nearly undetectable levels.

That is true even without proper ventilation.

If you experience nausea, dizziness, or difficulty breathing within 24 hours after 24 of fumigation, call your physician or poison control.

How do I prepare for fumigation?

  • Find A Place to Stay For Your Family.

All living occupants must leave your home before fumigation. That includes pets, animals, and people.

As such, you must make the appropriate accommodation plans during this time.

Fumigation can take anywhere from six hours to one week, so prepare accordingly.

 

  • Seal and Toss Away Consumables

Remove or seal all food in your pantry or the fridge.

Unopened or sealed foods do not need to be removed or bagged.

Go over your pantry and seal all your spices.

You’ll also want to bag place all your medicines in an air-tight seal.

For this, I recommend using Nylofume bags.

These bags are specifically designed to protect your unsealed food and medicines.

Once the fumigation is over, remove the bags from the property.

 

  • Protect Fabrics

While fumigation gases leave no residual effect, I recommend that you store your clothes to be safe.

Put your clothes in a bag for protection.

Remove all linen from your mattresses and pillows and place them in a bag.

 

  • Unplug All Electrical Appliances

Unplug all electrical appliances.

Also, consider talking to your gas company to cut gas supply during fumigation.

 

  • Take Out All Plants

All living occupants must leave your home before fumigation. That includes plants.

Open All Doors Inside Your Home
Leave all the doors in your home open so the gas can spread thoroughly in your home.

Similarly, leave all of your furniture, closets, drawers, and cabinets open.

 

  • Clean and prepare Outdoors

It will include removing the aerials, trimming any shrubs and tree branches, cutting back the mulch or gravel at least a foot from your foundation.

Also, water your outdoor plants to ensure that they can withstand the toxic gas released during fumigation.

 

  • Leave Your Keys

Don’t forget to leave all the keys necessary.

The applicators will need to be able to access all areas of your home.

They also need to be able to lock them, so no one enters your home.

Does Termite fumigation leave a residue?

Sulfuryl fluoride is made of gas.

As such, it does not leave a pesticidal residue.

Once the gas dissipates, it declines to nearly undetectable levels.

Be sure to double check what chemicals the pest control agency is using. 

Sometimes other chemicals may be used but in most cases they do not leave any residue. 

Is it safe to live next to a tented house?

Yes. You and your family are safe, even if your neighbor is tenting their house.

The tent’s primary purpose is to make the treatment more effective by containing fumigants within the structure.

But, this also prevents toxic gases from leaving the structure and impacting areas next to it.

These toxic gases decline to nearly undetectable levels over time.

And once the applicators remove the tent, the gas will dissipate within 24 hours.

Does tenting kill all termites?

Tenting is capable of killing all types of termite species.

But it is not effective at eliminating all types of termite species infestation.

Here’s what I mean.

Tenting is highly effective with drywood termites.

In one study, tenting with heat was able to kill 99% of drywood termite consistently.

And this study shows that fumigation with sulfur fluoride was able to eliminate 97% of termites.

However, it is not effective in eliminating subterranean termite infestations.

Can you kill termites without tenting?

The short answer is yes.

But, whether or not you can eliminate termite infestation without tenting is different.

For that, the answer will depend on two things:

The severity of the infestation
The type of termite species you have

If you have subterranean and damp wood termites, you can kill termites without tenting regardless of the level of infestation.

If you have a small to moderate Drywood termite infestation, the answer is yes. You can eliminate Drywood termite infestation without tenting.

If you have a large Drywood termite infestation, the answer is no. You can’t eliminate large Drywood termite infestation without tenting.

You should only try to get rid of Drywood termites yourself if you have a minor infestation.

Here are two methods you can take to eliminate termites yourself.

Wood Replacement

Wood replacement involves replacing the infested wood.

Wood replacement is ideal if the infestation is only on a few pieces of wood that’s easy to access.

After replacing the wood, treat the new wood Bora-care to prevent termites from coming back.

Localized Dust / Foam Treatment

Localized Dust or Foam Treatment involves injecting pesticides into the infested wood.

These pesticides can come in the form of liquid, dust, or foam formulations.

Does tenting kill Drywood termites?

Tenting is highly effective with Drywood termites.

That is true for both heat and fumigation.

In one study, tenting with heat was able to kill 99% of drywood termite consistently.

And this study shows that fumigation with sulfur fluoride was able to eliminate 97% of termites.

Tenting is highly effective on drywood termites because they live inside the wood.

And any fumes or heat used during tenting can seep into the wood and kill them.

Does tenting kill Subterranean termites?

Tenting is effective at killing subterranean termites in a structure, but not in soil.

That’s because tenting does not work well in soil.

And subterranean termites live primarily in the soil.

If you use tenting to kill subterranean termites in a structure, you’ll need to do a separate treatment to kill the termites hiding inside the soil.

Does tenting kill Dampwood termites?

Similarly, tenting is not an effective or cost-friendly way of eliminating dampwood termites. 

The soil and moisture that Dampwood termites usually nest near offer protection against the gas and heat used during tenting. 

A more effective way is to use localized treatment, soil treatment, and removal of moisture. 

How much does it cost to tent a house for termites?

The price of fumigation varies based on the size of the structure and the region it’s in.

On average, fumigation costs between $1 and $3 per square foot.

What needs to be removed when tenting for termites?

When tenting for termites, remove all living occupants. That includes pets, animals, and people.

You’ll also want to remove or bag food in your pantry or the fridge.

Unopened or sealed foods do not need to be removed or bagged.

Once the fumigation is over, remove the bags from the property.

When should I tent for termites?

This treatment method is best applied to large drywood termite infestation.

You should also tent your home if you are having difficulty locating or accessing drywood termite infested areas.

If you have Subterranean and Dampwood termites, I recommend using other less invasive and cost-effective methods.

How often should you tent for termites?

You should only tent for termites if you have an active and extensive infestation.

After fumigation, monitor the structure and look for signs of infestations.

If you find evidence of an infestation, then consider tenting the structure once more.

Tenting is not meant as a preventative measure.

How Long does it take to fumigate a house?

Fumigation can take anywhere from six hours to one week.

The time will depend on the type of infestation you have, the size of the structure, and the chemical concentration.

On average, fumigation lasts for up to three days.

I recommend planning for accommodation for you and your family for five days to allot time for the chemicals to dissipate.

How Long After Fumigation is it Safe?

The U.S. EPA requires that occupants not re-enter the structure until the sulfuryl fluoride level is less than one ppm.

Do not take this lightly.

Two of the most common chemicals used in fumigation are sulfuryl fluoride and chloropicrin.

Sulfuryl fluoride is a harmful substance to all living organisms–including people.

As such, all occupants must leave the building before the fumigation starts and until the gas dissipates.

What to Do After the Fumigation?

Clean Your Home

Have a professional cleaning company clean your home or do it by yourself.

Make sure the cleaning service you hire has experience with cleaning after a tenting house for termites.

If, however, you are planning a D.I.Y cleaning, here are some things to remember:

  1. Examine all the food and medicine you left inside. If any of them is not sealed or inside a damaged bag, throw away immediately.
  2. Vacuum all dead termites inside your home.
  3. Wipe your kitchen countertops and stove.
  4. Mop your floors.
    Clean your bathroom thoroughly.
  5. Call your gas company to restore service.
  6. Plug all devices back in.
  7. Enjoy your termite-free home.
  8. Continue to monitor your home for signs of termite infestation. If you suspect the termites are back, call your exterminators immediately.

You can also set up a re-inspection date with your exterminators to be sure.

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