Fumigation is a highly effective pest control treatment that fills your home with gaseous chemicals to eliminate unwanted pests. It’s a powerful pest control option that’s only used to treat severe infestations because it’s expensive and labor-intensive. In most cases, fumigation is used as a last resort when harmful termites or carpenter ants are difficult to access or locate.

In this article, we’ll explain the fumigation process, factors that influence its cost, and some pest control alternatives that could work for your home.


What Is Fumigation?

Fumigation is a pest control treatment that fills your home with gaseous pesticides to eliminate termites in its structure. The process is generally conducted in a series of four steps:

  1. Your home is first covered and sealed using a large plastic or rubber tent. This helps concentrate gaseous pesticides and prevents them from being released into the environment.
  2. Fumigates are released into your home to start the eradication process.
  3. The gas pesticides are sealed within your tented home for days, eliminating infestations throughout.
  4. The tent is removed and your home is ventilated. Once the air quality is tested and your home is deemed safe, you can move back in.

Tented fumigations are seldom needed for residential homes. However, there are some instances when traditional pest control treatment methods aren’t effective at eradicating pests in your home. For example, there are instances when carpenter ants or termites burrow into your home’s foundation and can only be removed using fumigation.

It’s important to contact a pest control company if you suspect your home has a termite problem. These companies offer effective and efficient treatments that take care of the issue in a timely manner. Here are a few signs to look for if you suspect you have a termite problem:

  • Pencil-thick mud tunnels in your home’s foundation or crawl space, a distinctive sign of subterranean termites
  • Damp wood covered in dried mud or dirt
  • Bulging floors, ceilings, or walls
  • Thin sawdust pinholes

How to Prepare for Fumigation

Fumigation requires some planning on your part. Here are a few checklist items you should take care of before your home is fumigated:

  • Make lodging arrangements for a few days as your home is uninhabitable during fumigation.
  • Open your home’s interior doors and raise any window blinds to allow fumigants to seep into every corner.
  • Move all perishable and non-perishable food items to an off-site location or properly seal them within your refrigerator and pantry.
  • Cut back plants and other foliage within three feet of your home to prevent chemical damage.
  • Schedule the shut-off and restoration of your home’s gas service.
  • Make arrangements for any vehicles that may need to be moved during fumigation.


Average Fumigation Cost

Full-house fumigation is one of the most expensive pest control treatments because of the labor, equipement, and time required to perform the treatment. The average cost of this service is between $2,000 and $8,000, or about $1–$4 per square foot of your home.

Like many pest treatments, fumigation costs are impacted by several factors, including the size of your home and the type of pest infestation you’re addressing. Here’s a breakdown of how much you can expect to pay based on your home’s square footage.

Square FootageTermite Treatment Cost
1,000 square feet$1,000–$4,000
1,500 square feet$1,500–$6,000
2,000 square feet$2,000–$8,000
2,500 square feet$2,500–$10,000
3,000 square feet$3,000–$12,000
3,500 square feet$3,500–$14,000


Other Pest Control Alternatives to Fumigation

There are a few termite control alternatives to tent fumigation. It’s important to note that while these are viable alternatives, some infestations are too severe or complex to be treated with anything other than fumigation. Here are a few alternatives to termite fumigation:

  • Heating—Heat treatment involves tenting your home and subjecting it to high temperatures that raise the wood to around 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This treatment doesn’t involve the use of harmful chemicals and is effective for localized termite colonies. However, heating can cause damage to personal belongings, so they’ll need to be removed prior to treatment.
  • Spot treatment—Spot treatment entails drilling small holes into infested areas and injecting termiticides to eradicate the pest. While this treatment is usually less expensive than heating or fumigation, multiple treatments may be necessary. Additionally, spot treatment kills termites only in localized areas.
  • Electro-gun—This treatment uses high frequencies and voltages to penetrate wood and kill termites. While this is a straightforward treatment, it’s effective only in localized areas.
  • Microwave—Similar to electro-gun treatment, microwave treatment is effective for localized termite infestations. It directs powerful microwaves at the infested area, heating the wood and killing burrowed termites.


How to Avoid Severe Termite Infestations

Termites are the main reason a home needs fumigation and getting rid of these pesky insects is a bit more complicated than flea or cockroach infestations. Here are a few ways to prevent termite infestations in your home:

  • Keep your home’s wooden siding six inches above ground soil.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Remove lumber, wood, paper, and other cellulose-based debris from around your home’s foundation.
  • Maintain your home’s lawn and surrounding shrubbery.
  • Consider using pine needles or pea gravel as mulch in natural areas around your home.
  • Make sure your gutters and storm drains empty away from your home.
  • Remove tree stumps and rotting wood from your yard.

One of the most effective ways of preventing a termite infestation is getting a regular termite inspection. These should be conducted annually by a termite professional, who can properly search your home’s foundation and notice any early signs of an infestation.


Frequently Asked Questions About Fumigation

Is the fumigation process harmful to humans?

Yes. The chemicals used during fumigation are toxic to humans, pets, and insects. That’s why it’s important for a certified and knowledgeable professional to conduct treatment.

What chemicals are used during fumigation?

There are a variety of commonly used chemicals during fumigation, including magnesium phosphide, methyl bromide, sulfuryl fluoride, and calcium cyanide.

Are there any side effects of tent fumigation?

While fumigation is a safe extermination method when done correctly, there are some environmental risks associated with the process. For example, some fumigates used are greenhouse gases that could potentially harm the atmosphere.

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