A Reality Check every single homeowner needs to pay attention to in our area. Mobile is the most termite-infested city in the country. That's according to Terminix. Do you know if termite damage is even covered in your termite bond? And did you know there are different methods to prevent termites? Local 15's Andrea Ramey talks to the experts about the best way to protect your home.
"There's nothing but splinters, nothing but splinters," said Margaret Carson, whose bedroom walls crumble in her hands. "I had no idea there was this kind of damage in my house," said Carson.
That's because she paid for a termite bond, which included an annual inspection.
Carson's home is hardly an exception. We found properties with significant termite damage on both sides of Mobile Bay.
"Every house in South Alabama is within eating distance of literally millions of termites," said attorney Tom Campbell, who specializes in representing people with termite damage.
Once they infest your home, Formosan termites are extremely aggressive, and if your home isn't properly treated, the results can be devastating.
"This is carton nest material that Formosan termites make. What makes them more aggressive and cause more damage right away is they'll move their colony right into the structure," said entomologist and termite expert Paul Bello.
Bello says the best way to prevent an infestation is a comprehensive liquid treatment. That's a chemical barrier that surrounds every inch of your home.
"At my house I have liquid," said Bello.
But some pest control companies today are switching people to a bait system. Stations are placed every 10-20 feet around your home. The lethal substance inside is supposed to eliminate termites.
"This is the stuff that has the toxic in it," said Bello.
In fact, many new homes now are being built without a liquid pre-treatment. DR Horton says it has switched to bait systems.
"They are woefully inadequate compared to a good liquid treatment," said Campbell. "Termites explore for their food on a random basis. The idea they're going to find an 8" deep bait system, instead of a 2,400 square foot house is astronomical. They're going to randomly find a house before they randomly find a bait system."
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, which regulates pest control companies, says bait systems, liquid soil treatments and wood treatments are all regulated and considered pre-treatments in the state. Joe Debrow, who is over regulatory enforcement, says that one is not better than the other. Debrow says they have cases involving termite infestations with each method, and in the vast majority of cases, it was due to the product not being applied properly.
"If we're doing our treatments and inspections correctly, we're stopping this before it happens," said Bello.
Debrow wants consumers to keep these recommendations in mind:
- Have and maintain a termite bond
- Know if it covers re-treatment and repair or just re-treatment.
- If it covers repair, find out if there are limits to what the pest control company will cover
- Find out if your contract excludes Formosan termites. You want one that doesn't. Formosan termites are in our area and cause lots of damage.
- And if you think you're pest control company isn't doing what it's supposed to, you can file a complaint with the state: http://www.agi.alabama.gov/docs/default-source/pesticde-management/professional-services/consumer-complaint-form_2-5-14.pdf?sfvrsn=2