Steps to Prepare for Termite Service

Exterminator van by building undergoing tent fumigation

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Termite knowledge can help homeowners detect problems and understand control, but it is generally recommended that control is left to professional pest control operators (PCOs). This is partly because of the various species of termites and the different techniques needed for control of each. For example, subterranean termites, as their name indicates, nest near or below ground, however dry wood termite nests are found above ground.

Regardless of the method used, there will be things that homeowners or residents need to do to prepare for termite service.

Importance of Proper Preparation

Prior to performing this, or any service, professional pest control operators (PCOs) will generally provide you with a specific list of preparation activities before they arrive. However, the following lists some of the most common requests or recommendations made by PCOs. (If self-treatment/over-the-counter pesticides are used, always read and follow all label directions and safe-use guidelines before purchase and use.)

Because a lack of preparation could make a treatment unsafe or cause reinfestation, many PCOs will not treat areas that are not prepared to specifications.

Insecticide Injection

  1. Treatment often will involve drilling through the concrete floor in certain areas, in order to treat the soil beneath the concrete. (The PCO should also reseal any holes that are made.) Because of this, residents should plan to be away from the home or apartment for much of the day. Your PCO will specify the specific timeframe.
  2. Prior to service, PCOs will conduct an inspection, noting the areas to be treated. In these areas (as generally marked on a schematic), all furniture, appliances, or stored materials should be moved away from all interior walls, at least three (3) feet where possible.
  3. All breakable items should also be removed from tables, walls, or cabinets, in areas to be treated, so that nothing will be knocked over.
  4. If closets are to be treated, it is recommended that all clothing be removed and/or covered, since drilling can cause dust to rise into the air.
  5. If the weather is bad (snowing or raining) on the day on which work was to be performed, it may need to be rescheduled. Your PCO will provide more information on this.


Fumigation is the process where insects are eliminated from a structure with the use of lethal gas. According to a Termite and Fumigation publication from the County of Los Angeles, preparation for termite fumigation includes:

  1. Plan to be out of the home for up to four days. Depending on several factors, the fumigant will need to be held in the structure for 16 to 30 hours. Following that the structure will need to be aerated for at least 12 hours. NEVER attempt to return to the home until it has been certified safe for reentry by the fumigator.
  2. Remove all living things from home prior to the fumigation. This means not only people and pets—including fish/fish tanks but also plants.
  3. Remove all food and medicines from the home, or, if instructed by your PCO, seal these in fume bags.
  4. Cut back exterior perimeter plants from the home to allow access to the exterior walls. Heavily water the ground around the entire perimeter, as this will help the fumigant penetrate the soil beneath and around the home rather than leaching out into the surrounding landscape.
  5. To allow the fumigant to reach all parts of the home, ensure that all areas within the home are unlocked and open, including rooms, cabinets, closets, etc.
  6. Remove antennas, chimney caps, and weather vanes to allow for complete sealing of the tarp.
  7. If a fence is attached to the home without a nearby gate, boards may need to be removed in order for the tarp to be sealed to the ground.
  8. Remove any box springs, mattresses (including infant mattresses), and pillows that are encased in permanent, waterproof coverings, or, if the cover is detachable, the cover can be taken off. ; This includes infant mattresses.
  9. Turn off all appliance pilot lights and gas flames.