What to Consider in Hiring a Pest Control Professional

Garden spider backlit by the sun

D.A.K. Photography / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sometimes it is better to hire a pest control professional than to try to do it yourself. This is particularly true if the pest problem is ongoing, if the infestation has become large, or if the products needed for control are only authorized for use by certified professionals. When you do need to hire a professional, keep the following considerations in mind:

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    The Technician

    Before allowing the pest control provider to enter your home, ask to see their identification, license, and certification, and check to ensure it is current. Almost every state requires that technicians be certified​ and that they participate in annual training to keep the license current.

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    The Company

    Is the company bonded and insured? This can be important to both protect your property and protect against liability. Visit the company's website. Does it appear professional? Is it knowledgeable? Do its values correspond with your own?

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    The technician, or sales representative, should be knowledgeable enough to answer your pest control questions. There may be a question or two that he does not know off-hand, and, if so, he should be willing to say he will find out and let you know. It is better to hear an honest "I don't know, but I'll find out," than to be given wrong or made-up answers.

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    Professional Appearance

    When the technician comes to your door, their uniform and overall appearance should be clean and professional. The truck, equipment, and chemicals should also provide you with a secure feeling of professionalism.

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    Before calling a pest control company, ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Check with your state pest control association, or visit the National Pest Management Association's (NPMA) website for a state-by-state list of providers. It is always wise to check any company with the Better Business Bureau. If you did not receive any personal recommendations, you may want to ask the provider for references—and follow up with calls to the customers provided.

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    The lowest price is not always the best deal. If a company says it will solve your problem in one service for $X, and your problem still exists after you've paid for that service, you haven't saved any money. Instead, you will most likely need to start over with another service provider and end up paying a great deal more than if you had chosen quality over price the first time.

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    If you are hiring a company for ongoing service, discuss your options with the technician, or sales representative. Will quarterly service take care of the problem? Or do you need a monthly service? Perhaps you will start with monthly, or more frequent, service to eliminate the problem, then drop to a less frequent maintenance schedule once it is solved. Be sure to read the contract carefully, understand all fine print, and ask questions before you sign on the line.

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    Before attempting any service, the technician should talk with you to discuss exactly what the problem is, find out where and what you've seen or heard, and ask probing questions to ensure she fully understands the pest problem. Following that discussion, the pest control technician should inspect your home or building through a professional eye, identify the pest or pests, and set a treatment plan.

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    In many cases, the technician will use chemicals for elimination, but he should be willing to discuss the chemicals he expects to use, any possible adverse effects and any non-chemical options. All chemical containers should be labeled and have a clean, professional appearance. Upon request, the technician should be able to provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and specimen label for each chemical used.

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    After completing service, the technician should provide a report detailing the service performed, any necessary follow-up action, and any customer advice. The report should also detail the service costs.

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    At some point during service, the technician should make recommendations for future prevention. Depending on the service being performed, it is possible that this could come before, during, or after service. For example, if the inspection reveals a potential pest harborage area, the technician should inform you and recommend immediate clean-up. If a structural issue is found, the technician may wait until the end and recommend maintenance, such as screen replacement or repairing of holes.

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    Many pest control companies offer guarantees, even if it is as simple as "Guaranteed satisfaction." Be sure to read the fine print of this as well, know what your responsibilities are and how to invoke the guarantee if needed.