How Much Does Fumigation Cost? We Did the Math

Fuming about a bed bug or termite infestation? You may need to fumigate

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fumigation cost

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Nobody likes the thought of termites eating their home away or bed bugs burrowing deep into their mattress. If you’re suffering from these nightmares, pest control companies can rid you of them. For particularly bad infestations, a company might employ fumigation—not necessarily a pleasant experience, but an effective way to rid your home of pests.

On average, fumigation costs $3 to $4 per square foot—for context, an average three-bedroom home in the U.S. measures around 1,300 square feet, computing to a total price of about $3,900 to $5,200. Fumigation involves sealing off or enclosing a property under a tent or tarp and then releasing a fumigant (usually a toxic gas) to eradicate the invasive pest. Most pest control companies will likely want to inspect your home to determine if less invasive methods can be used first, as fumigation is more intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. If the company does ultimately decide that fumigation is the best course of action, however, you’ll be glad to know that it’s usually a one-time service.

What Is Fumigation?

Fumigation is the process of exterminating pests with fumes from toxic chemicals. The area being fumigated is sealed up in a tent-like structure, and then a fumigant is released. The seal allows the toxic fumes to permeate and saturate the pest-infested space, killing off any pests inside. Fumigation is typically only used for severe or challenging infestations, such as termites and bed bugs.

Fumigation Costs

Low estimate $1–$2 per square foot
Average estimate $3–$4 per square foot
High estimate $5–$7 per square foot

The cost of fumigation depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the space you’re fumigating, labor costs, location (urban or rural), the type of pests you want eradicated, the severity of the infestation, and the fumigation method. In general, fumigation is an expensive method of pest control and is used only in severe cases. Typically, it’s only necessary to fumigate once, but the service might need to be repeated if the first fumigation treatment is ineffective. Here's how pest control companies will calculate the cost:

Property Size

Fumigation costs are often broken down by square foot. In general, the larger the area you want fumigated, the higher the cost.

Size Average Price
Average two-bedroom home $2,400–$4,800 
Average three-bedroom home $3,000–$8,800
Average four-bedroom home $5,700–$10,000
Five bedrooms or more $7,200+

Type of Pests

Each pest can require its own method of eradication, with some methods being costlier than others. As a result, prices will fluctuate depending on the type of pest you’re trying to eradicate.

Severity of Infestation

The worse the infestation, the more you’ll likely need to pay. A relatively small infestation can reduce the area that needs fumigation and perhaps require a less intense fumigation process, but a severe infestation could require your entire property to be fumigated, thus increasing costs.

Labor Costs

Some companies build out their price based on the number of employees they need to handle the fumigation process. Other factors, such as location, can affect labor costs, as the fumigators may need to spend more time and/or money on transportation.

Fumigation Method

There are three primary methods of fumigation: gas, solid, and liquid. Some of these methods can be more expensive than others, depending on the chemical used to eradicate the pest.

Service Add-Ons

Some additional services that can increase fumigation costs include preparing your property for fumigation (e.g., securing food items and sealing vents) and follow-up inspections. These add-ons could cost anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the details. You also have to consider that you may need to relocate to a hotel for some time while the fumigation process takes place. Typically, you won’t have to relocate for more than two days.

Best Fumigation Services

Key Specs Terminix Orkin
No. of locations 300+  400+
Free consultation? Yes Yes
Types of treatments Depends on the contractor Gas
Pests treated Ants, bed bugs, centipedes, cockroaches, crickets, groundhogs, millipedes, mosquitoes, moths, opossums, pigeons, raccoons, rodents, scorpions, silverfish, skunks, sparrows, spiders, starlings, termites, and ticks Ants, bed bugs, beetles, centipedes, cockroaches, crickets, earwigs, fleas, flies, millipedes, mites, mosquitoes, moths, rodents, silverfish, spiders, stinging pests, stink bugs, termites, and ticks

Terminix

Terminix is one of the country’s most popular and well-regarded pest control companies and has more than 300 locations nationwide. Terminix doesn’t actually offer fumigation services itself; rather, it subcontracts them out to other companies. This can result in varied customer experiences, depending on the exact fumigation company used.

Terminix offers other termite treatment options as alternatives to fumigation. Among these is its Drywood Defend System, a specialized service available in California, Florida, and Hawaii that’s designed to eradicate dry wood termites and help prevent future infestations. It entails treating interior and exterior areas where termites typically travel or congregate, as well as creating a barrier around your property to keep termites away for good. After Terminix applies a termite treatment, it will monitor your property to ensure it has done its job. 

Orkin

Orkin has a whopping 400 locations and counting. It has been in business since 1901, making it one of the most experienced pest control companies in the country. Orkin offers a structural fumigation process for severe infestations. This involves putting a tent or tarp over your house before releasing a gas fumigant, sealing the toxic fumes in your home and killing off the pests. Once an Orkin fumigation expert has confirmed the treatment was successful, they’ll remove the tent or tarp from your property. During and after fumigation, you’ll have to wait until the fumes are completely gone—hours or sometimes days—to reenter your home.

Signs That It’s Time to Fumigate

There are some clear signs that you may have a serious termite or bed bug infestation that could require fumigation.

  • Droppings: Look for these, especially around mattress edges, near baseboards, and inside cabinets.
  • Termites: Where there’s one, there are likely many more, so if you actually see a termite, it’s not a good sign.
  • Holes: Insects can chew holes in your walls, especially inside garages.
  • Wood damage: Piles of wood shavings inside or outside your home could be the result of termites.
  • Peeling or bubbling paint: A termite infestation can lead to extra moisture inside your walls, which can cause paint to peel or bubble.
  • Itchy bites: Bed bugs can leave itchy bite marks on your skin.
  • Molted skins: You may see what looks like bug carcasses around mattresses.
  • Blood spots on sheets and/or mattresses: This is another sign that bed bugs might be attacking you in your sleep.
  • A sweet/musty odor around your bed: Bed bugs tend to give off a peculiar scent that you can detect.
  • White, oval eggs: These tend to be about the size of an apple seed and are evidence of the presence of bed bugs.

Types of Fumigation Treatments

There are three primary types of fumigation: gas, solid, and liquid. You’ll need to consult with your pest control company after it has inspected your property to determine whether fumigation is the best course of action and, if so, what will be the most effective treatment type for your infestation.

Gas Fumigation

This is the most well-known type of fumigation. After all people and pets have been cleared from the infested area, the space is either sealed or covered to prevent gas from leaking out. Then the area will be filled with a gas like methyl bromide, which is commonly used to eradicate rodents and insects.

Solid Fumigation

Solid fumigation involves the use of tablets, powders, or pellets, which are vaporized. Aluminum phosphide and calcium cyanide are two common types of solid fumigants. Some fumigants need to be heated in order to vaporize, while others will vaporize over time.

Liquid Fumigation

Liquid fumigation is essentially the process of spraying toxic chemicals over an area to eradicate pests and insects. Typical liquid fumigants include carbon disulfide, ethyl acetate, and chloroform. These liquid fumigants tend to be toxic to humans and flammable.

FAQ
  • Is There a Difference Between Fumigation and Tenting?

    Technically, yes. Fumigation is the process of releasing a toxic gas into an area or property to eradicate a pest, such as termites or bed bugs. Tenting is the process of covering the area to be fumigated with a tent before releasing the gas. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they technically describe two different elements of the process.

  • What’s the Difference Between Fumigation and Fogging?

    One difference between fumigation and fogging is the level of chemical saturation in a space. During fumigation, a space is thoroughly filled with toxic chemicals, whereas fogging simply introduces some toxic chemicals into a space without fully saturating it. Fogging also requires the use of fogger machines, which are not used for fumigation.

  • Does a House Need to Be Completely Cleared Out Before Fumigation?

    A house does not need to be completely emptied of everything inside, but you’ll need to ensure that all people, pets, and plants are removed from the property. You’ll also have to remove or completely seal up any exposed foods, medicines, and dental products—basically, anything that goes in your mouth. If you’re tenting your home for fumigation, you’ll also need to remove any external items that could tear the tent, such as weather vanes.

  • Do Bugs Come Out After Fumigation?

    Fumigation is designed to kill bugs throughout your property, but, as with most pest control solutions, you may see some bugs coming out of hiding after the treatment has been finished. In fact, in the case of termites, you may even experience this up to four weeks after fumigation. That’s because fumigation weakens colonies over time. If you have concerns about infestations after treatment, be sure to reach out to your pest control company. You may need a second treatment.

  • How Long Should You Stay Out of Your House After Fumigation?

    The pest control company will provide instructions detailing how long you’ll need to stay out of your home after fumigation. Toxic chemicals will typically dissipate after six hours, but it’s a good idea to stay out of your home for a longer period of time to be on the safe side—generally up to two days.

  • What Needs to Be Washed After Fumigation?

    It’s recommended that you thoroughly clean your home after it has been fumigated. Surfaces that you should wash include doorknobs, walls, cabinets, cupboards, desks, chairs, tables, and other furniture. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your entire house (including furniture, beds, and pillows) to pick up any deceased pests. Mopping the floors is also a good idea. Finally, wash all of your sheets and linens as well.

  • Is There an Ideal Time of Year for Fumigation Services?

    The ideal time of year for pest control services, including fumigation, is spring. Early in the season, pest nests and colonies tend to have smaller populations so dealing with them then will be easier and likely result in better long-term protection. However, because fumigation is a severe pest control method usually reserved for difficult infestations, it’s best to fumigate as soon as possible, no matter the season.

  • Are Windows Left Open During Fumigation?

    All windows that can be opened should be left open several inches during the fumigation process, with some states mandating a minimum amount (California requires you to have your windows open at least three inches). You’ll want to air out your house following a fumigation treatment, so feel free to open up all windows once you’re allowed back into your home.

Article Sources
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  1. Archimple. "Average Square Footage of A 3 Bedroom House: Effective Cost and Size." https://www.archimple.com/average-square-footage-of-a-3-bedroom-house