Guest Post by Janet Thrasher of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control in Los Gatos
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Janet Thrasher of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control in Los Gatos. This interview is Part 2 in a series about pest control work and homes.
Mary’s Preface: Recently I was working with buyers on the sale of a home where the listing agent had a pre-sale inspection from a pest control company that suffers from a very bad reputation in my industry. The report we were given said that there was no “Section 1” work (no active infestation of termites, dry rot, fungus etc.) in this 50+ year old house. I didn’t trust it and had both a new home inspection and a new pest or termite inspection from Thrasher. Both of my inspectors noted lots of damage under the house – visible from the crawl space and images of which I saw from the home inspector’s digital camera. As it turns out, there was a whopping $10,000 worth of Section 1 damage (a combination of termites, dry rot and fungus). Clearly, the guy from the company with the bad reputation never went under the house at all. But the homeowner did not know that he’d hired a bad company.
Mary: Janet, how would you suggest that people choose a termite or pest inspection company?
Janet: That’s a good question. Often people are not sure how to choose a pest inspection company because they don’t have to do it very often. So sometimes they go with a big company that they’ve seen advertised. That is not what I would suggest.
My recommendation would be to hire a locally owned “Mom & Pop” type company. If there are any problems, the owner of the small, local firm is more directly involved and can address issues quickly. Typically the staff is more closely trained and supervised by the owner of a small company. I would also suggest that a homeowner make sure that their inspection include the crawl space and the attic. Some companies will not do this unless you specifically request it. It is common to find many early symptoms of pest activity in these locations. It’s just not a thorough inspection if these areas are skipped.
Also I would find out how long the pest company has been in the business. You can check with the Structural Pest Control Board to see if there are any complaints with the company you are considering. Maybe you could ask a prominent Realtor for the name of a well-reputed company.
Mary: Great list. I would agree that the agents have a pretty good sense of which companies do good work at a fair price. Word gets around if companies either miss damage, are unreliable, or unprofessional.
Janet: I would add that the chemicals used in the industry have gotten a lot better over the years. They work better and they don’t have an odor like they used to.
Some companies will use other methods, like microwaving the termites or a freezing or heat method for drywood termites. We’ve found that when we tried the non-chemical methods, we simply got a lot more “call backs”. In other words, it didn’t have as high of a success rate as the chemical methods so we had to go back and re-treat. The chemicals are so much more efficacious than the alternative methods. We simply do not have call-backs anymore with the chemical method.
With subterranean termites, the treatment can take a couple of weeks to fully work. The reason is that the chemical used, Termidor, has a “transfer effect”. It can work by indirect contact. One termite gets the chemical and brings it back to others in the colony and it’s spread that way – each termite doesn’t have to get direct exposure to the pesticide.
Mary: Does it matter when you do the treatment?
Janet: The time of year doesn’t really matter, but I do think it’s best not to do it on a rainy day.
Mary: Anything else a homeowner should know?
Janet: I think people are nervous about the chemicals. There are myths about how dangerous they are to humans. The applicators are required to attend ongoing, continuing education classes on how to safely apply and the chemicals we use. If the pesticides were dangerous or harmful to us, it would show up in this group of people who work with them all the time. It just isn’t the case, so I’d like to dispel that concern.
Thrasher Termite & Pest Control
17427 Farley Road West
Los Gatos, CA 95030