Choosing A Pest Control Company
Summary: Just remember, value is way more important than price when choosing a pest control company. When you have an insect problem in your home it is bad enough that you have to deal with the creepy crawlers. But, it can get worse if you have to decide on a company to come and get rid of the pests.
When facing a pest problem you probably want to take care of the situation as quickly as possible for as little money as you must pay. But, not so fast! Choosing an experienced, qualified pest control operator (PCO) is not quite as easy as opening the phone book. There are several factors you must consider first.
Make sure that the pest control operator's license is current and up to date. Most states require an active, updated pest control license for people applying pesticides for the public. It is also a sign of professionalism if they are members in good standing of local or state pest management associations, or are members of the National Pest Management Association. The various associations inform members about new developments in research and training, new safety regulations, and new application techniques. They also require the companies to honor a code of ethics which can tell you that the company is dedicated to doing quality work.
Find out if the company is insured. They should have general liability insurance in case of sudden and accidental pollution or other kinds of accidents. They should also have workers compensation insurance to cover you in the event one of their employees is injured while working on your property. Liability insurance is another good indicator that they are professionals.
Make sure that the pest control company has plenty of experience dealing with your kind of insect problem. Some companies are not licensed to treat for termites or to perform fumigations. Ask how many years they have been in business and how many examples of your kind of pest problem they have experience treating.
When looking for a pest control company you should ask friends and neighbors about their experiences with a particular pest control company. The Better Business Bureau has a web site that tells you of any registered complaints filed against the company you are considering. The consumer advocate, Angie's List, also has an online program that collects reports on service companies. Do not forget to ask the company for references.
When the pest control company visits your house to do an inspection, note if they do a thorough job. When looking for termites they should inspect all accessible areas of your house, from the crawl space to the attic. Note if the inspector is using a flashlight, probe, and moisture meter, and is he drawing a layout of the area to perform an adequate inspection. After the inspection the inspector should be able to tell you what kind of pest you have, how extensive the infestation is, where they are located, how they got in, and what steps need to be taken to correct the problem. Remember, a sign of an infestation is not the same as an active infestation. Your problem might not need treatment, but if it does, ask about alternatives to pesticides. If pesticides are the solution, then make sure there are no adverse affects towards children, the elderly, or pets “ even pet fish, if that applies to you.
Before signing a contract with any pest control company look over the terms of the agreement carefully. Don't get rushed into a long term agreement that you don't need. Understand your pest control services and have your PCO go over their proposal. Is there a guarantee? Is there a warranty and what does it cover and how long does it last? Are there any exclusion clauses in the contract, meaning, are there any conditions that would void the contract? Can you or the pest control company cancel the contract? How often will they be servicing your house? Will it be monthly, quarterly, or yearly? These are important questions to answer so you get the most value for the pest control service for the best price. The trend for some companies is to perform more extensive service but less frequently. This reduces costs for them, but termite treatments especially should be monitored every few months.
After the treatment has been performed your job as homeowner is not over. You need to evaluate the results of the treatment. Bedbugs, for example, can lay dormant for months before becoming active again. So, continue to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment. Termite treatments using termite bait systems take awhile to work, so a pest control company that is diligent about checking up on you will provide more value and service than a company that performs one treatment and you never see again.
The goal should be long-term prevention, not short-term relief. Follow the pest control technician's advice as to the steps you can take to prevent a reoccurrence. Do your own research about the pest bothering you so you can make informed decisions. Ask your pest control operator if they are using a residual or non-residual pesticide and is the material oil based or water-soluble. Knowing you are savvy might make them think twice about tacking on any extra charges.