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FAQ: Termite Soil Treatments 101
By: Robert (Bob) Batman

There are two classes of soil treatment: 1) Tradition Soil Treatment, and; 2) TERMIDOR. This FAQ is limited to traditional liquid soil treatments. Click on the Termidor Termite Treatment FAQ for the newest option in termite treating. The answers to the following FAQ are based on facts as well as the terms, conditions, provisions, limitations, exclusions and disclaimers which are part of most professional pest control termite soil treatment agreements.

1. WHAT IS A TERMITE SOIL TREATMENT?

A. A termite "Soil Treatment Service" consists of placing a liquid pesticide, a termiticide, into the soil in accordance with the products label/labeling instructions except as hindered, limited, or prevented by obstructions and/or customer authorization. The treated soil is sometimes referred to as a soil barrier, however, it would be more properly referred to as simply "treated soil." This FAQ may refer to "treated soil" as a barrier, however, there really is no such thing as a perfect barrier. Termite Soil Treatment offers the potential for immediate, although temporary, remedy: it does not eliminate termite colonies. Termite soil treatment is a liquid pesticide application to soil. It is not a wood treatment nor is it a baiting service. CAUTION AND NOTICE: KEEP CHILDREN AND PESTS AWAY FROM TREATED SOIL UNTIL IT DRIES. DO NOT PLANT ANY EDIBLE PLANTS (plants you eat) IN AREAS WHERE THEIR ROOTS WILL REACH THE TREATED SOIL.

2. HOW IS A SOIL TREATMENT PERFORMED?

A. Before going further, it may be beneficial for you to know something about a termite machine (rig): the machine and attachments which are used to perform the treatment. The termite rig has a holding tank which holds the termiticide (tank size isn't important). The gasoline powered rigs have gasoline engines, pumps, sometimes a gear reduction device, an adjustable pressure regulator, hose-reel(s), hoses and shut-off valves, and an application device called a valve handle. Attached to the application end of the hose is a valve handle and attached to the valve handle is a hollow rod (rods come in various lengths). The valve handle or application device is sometimes referred to, in our industry, as a rodder. Some of these rods can be fitted with a special spray tip (different tips for different spray patterns). If the holding tank has termiticide in it and the termite rig is running when the treatment technician pulls the valve handle lever (trigger or lever), termiticide comes out of the rod tip (the spray pattern depending on the type of tip attached to the service end of the rod).

The service technician could place the termiticide directly into the soil by sticking the tip of the rod into the soil and pulling the valve handle lever. The technician can trench and rod the soil or s/he can direct the termiticide through a void or drill-hole towards the soil area to be treated. Rodding, therefore, refers to sticking the rod directly into the soil, through a drill-hole, through a void, or placing the rod tip against a drill-hole (using the drill-hole to direct the pesticide towards the soil area to be treated) and triggering the valve handle lever to apply the termiticide.

Some soil areas, where termiticide needs to be placed, may be obstructed by concrete, wood, or some other obstruction. When this is the case, there are three alternatives: 1) the property owner can remove the obstruction for treatment access, 2) the treatment technician can, if possible, drill treatment access holes through it, or 3) the area in question will not be treated and not included as part of the treatment because of the existing obstruction.

The property owner, under most treatment agreements, is responsible for removing treatment obstructions. Obviously, it is not practical to remove certain obstructions, and it is not reasonable for any person to assume, or construe to imply, that certain obstructions do not exist. Even when the treatment technician can drill treatment access holes through a substance, it does not mean the obstruction did not exist or that the soil was adequately treated.

Soil treatment is, therefore, placement of a liquid residual pesticide (a termiticide) into the soil in accordance with the product's label/labeling instructions except as hindered, limited, or prevented by obstructions and/or customer authorization. It is not a wood treatment nor is it a baiting service. Now that you know something about what a termite soil treatment consist of, you should know a few important facts about termite soil barriers (treated soil). If you have had or are planning to have a soil treatment, you should read the next section, section IV, very carefully.

3. WHAT FACTORS ADVERSELY AFFECT AND OR LIMIT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TERMITE SOIL TREATMENTS?

A. Certain obstructions will either hinder, limit or prevent placement of the termiticide into the soil where it needs to be placed to be effective and certain factors will adversely influence or disrupt the termiticide soil barrier following treatment.

Obstructions which hinder, limit, or prevent placement of termiticide into soil where it needs to be placed to be effective and factors which disrupt or adversely affect termite soil barriers (not in any particular order): 1) Acts of Nature (earthquakes, floods, drought and the cracking open of soil due to evaporation, freezing/thawing conditions, erosion, and high or fluctuating water table in treated soil areas; 2) Placing new dirt or mulch over treated soil; 3) Placing wood (fire wood or other) adjacent a treated structure; 4) Placing storage or debris adjacent a treated structure; 5) Structural water problems can support live termite infestation within a building, even when the soil barrier is effective; 6) Digging and/or removal or addition of plants in treated soil (includes, but is not limited to, regrading and planting following pre-construction and or existing construction soil treatment); 7) Plant root growth; 8) Adding new construction over and/or beyond treated soil; 9) Active sump systems; 10) Sprinkler systems; 11) Vegetative obstructions; 12) Construction obstructions (styrofoam between foundation and soil, wood forming boards left in ground, and any debris in/under backfill); 13) Structural obstructions; 14) Soil obstructions (clay and/or gumbo, rocks, roots, backfill debris, pipes, and etc.); 15) Storage obstructions; 16) Microorganisms in the soil; 17) High organic content in soil; 18) Leaching, 19) Soil texture: Certain termiticides work better in certain soil textures than others, and; 20) the natural degradation of the termiticide.

TAKE NOTE: The treating company has no control over any of the afore listed twenty (20) factors which either obstruct treatment (placement of termite into the soil where it needs to be placed to provide effective control) or disrupt or otherwise adversely affect existing soil barriers. Now you know why all termite soil treatments are limited as to extent and effectiveness. Due to the aforementioned factors, there is no such thing as a perfect termite soil treatment.

4. IS A TERMITE SOIL TREATMENT EFFECTIVE?

A. Termite soil treatments, performed by a well trained service technician using good equipment and an appropriate termiticide, is, in most cases, a very effective control measure. My company's soil treatment reinfestation ratio is less than one (1) percent and it just doesn't get any better than that in our industry! Soil treatment offers immediate remedy potential.

5. HOW EFFECTIVE IS A SOIL TREATMENT AND HOW LONG WILL A TERMITE SOIL TREATMENT LAST?

A. Most professional pest control operators (PCO) are smart enough to approach these waters very carefully. A PCO should not make any specific claims with respect to product effectiveness and/or longevity which cannot be supported by official scientific evidence' which has been published by the official scientific community.'

A PCO can, however, based solely on his company's experience, make comments regarding a product or product comparisons: nothing wrong with that.

Published industry research evidence,' can be used to infer certain things with respect to product effectiveness and/or longevity, however, you should know and remember that there is a difference between what is published by the official scientific community' and that which is published as industry research evidence.'

Do not assume anything! If a pesticide manufacturer advertisement says that their product may last "up to 10 years," what has the manufacturer actually told you? Nothing! Words have meaning...pay attention! Most pest control operators will simply express exactly what the pesticide manufacturer advertises: "the pesticide manufacturer advertises that.........."

6. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STANDARD TREATMENT AND A PARTIAL TREATMENT?

A. Basically there are two (2) classifications of termite soil treatment with respect to extent of treatment: 1) a standard treatment: one which meets or exceeds the state's prescribed standards, and; 2) a partial or limited treatment: one that does not meet (is of lesser extent than) the state prescribed standards. It could cost thousands of dollars to treat even a small house in accordance to the published standards of some states! Any of various obstructions existing at treatment time could, and do commonly, prevent standard treatment: such situations are beyond the control of the treating company (also, read number 3).

One type of partial treatment, a "Spot Treatment," refers to performing treatment to only to the soil adjacent to or under a small section of the structure. Spot soil treatment is sometimes recommended along with Baiting System Programs. Such a combination treatment (spot soil treatment plus a baiting system/program) is certainly worthy of consideration. The spot treatment temporarily stops termite invasion in the treatment area while the baiting service offers the potential for termite colony elimination. See or FAQ on Termite Baiting Service.

7. WHAT ABOUT TERMITE DAMAGE?

A. Parties concerned about damage (any damage) should contract the services of a licensed and qualified expert in the building trade to inspect for damage and perform needed repairs. Visible termite damage noted on a termite treatment diagram should be considered only as a form of visible evidence (one form of visible termite infestation evidence) of current or previous termite infestation which was observed by the treatment technician at treatment time. It should be further understood that some degree of termite damage, including hidden damage, may be present in any structure which has visible evidence of either active or previous termite infestation. Do not confuse a termite treatment agreement with an inspection report: they are two different things. Remember, termites eat wood and other cellulose based materials. Most termite soil treatment agreements specifically disclose, that, in no way, implied or otherwise, is the termite treating company responsible for any termite damage, whenever incurred, to the structure or its contents or for any repairs. Parties concerned about damage should contract the services of a licensed expert in the building trade to inspect for damage and perform needed repairs. If a termite treatment company contracts to perform any termite damage repair, it should be separately contracted and should be performed by qualified personnel.

8. WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT TERMITE SOIL TREATMENT GUARANTEES AND WARRANTIES?

A. Do not assume anything! Read termite treatment agreements very carefully. You will probably find the soil treatment agreement is not a guarantee that the treated structure is free of either 1) live termite infestation or 2) termite damage nor is it a guarantee that future termite infestation will not occur.

A soil treatment may or may not include a Limited and Conditional Service Warranty ("warranty"). Warranty herein refers to a future performance obligation on the part of the treating company if or when certain specified situations arise and certain specified conditions do not exist. See our FAQ on Termite Soil Treatment Warranty

9. SHOULD I PLANT EDIBLE PLANTS IN TERMITE TREATED SOIL?

A. No! Do not eat any part of any plant which has roots in treated soil. Do not plant any edible plants where their roots can reach treated soil. Ask a plant expert about the extent of a plant's root growth.

10. SHOULD I FIX WATER PROBLEMS (WOOD TO GROUND CONTACT AREAS, WOOD ROT AREAS, AND AREAS IN THE FOUNDATION, ROOFING, AND EXTERIOR SIDING/TRIM WHICH ARE NOT WATER TIGHT) ?

A. Yes! It doesn't take much of a water problem for termites to survive in a structure following a termite soil treatment. If you have water problems you do not want to fix, then you should consider a Termite Baiting Service. See our FAQ on Termite Baiting Service.

Conclusion: Considering all the facts contained in the preceding ten (10) FAQ and answers, a termite soil treatment remains one of the most effective and economically feasible termite control aids available; a choice worthy of consideration. It is the only control aid which has the potential of providing an immediate remedy against invading termites.

If you live in the Greater Kansas City Missouri/Kansas Area and need Termite Treatment/Service, Give Best Exterminators, Inc. a call
(816) 765-8844 or (913) 671-8844.

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