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Termite Protection

Summary: Termite protection is a subjective term used by many pest management firms. Before signing an agreement you need to clearly understand what the pest control company means by œprotection and what their warranty covers. Buyer beware!

There are thousands upon thousands of termite control companies around the world and all of them have their own way of treating a structure for termites. Yes, they all are supposed to follow the instructions printed on the pesticide label and, for the most part, they do. After decades of having the government pound œRead the Label into our heads, most pest professionals finally get it. However, the label does not cover every issue a termite treatment company is apt to encounter on the job.

The label says little to nothing about what happens when the liquid termiticides are being pumped into the soil and the material hits a clump of concrete that was dumped in the ditch next to the foundation wall. During construction of the home the contractor covered that clump of concrete with soil backfill and nobody knew the difference until now. The termite treatment guy is merrily pumping his product into the soil, but the product is being diverted away from the foundation wall, unbeknownst to him. So, the termite barrier ends up being interrupted and incomplete.

Two years later the homeowner finds termite evidence and the homeowners want to know why. Certainly, the termite guy knows he treated that wall where the termites have been found, so he thinks the homeowner has done something to break the chemical barrier. The homeowner knows he did not do anything, so he thinks the termite guy did not do the proper job. The next step is lawyers, and they certainly don't know whether anything was or was not done, but they'll have fun trying to find out and getting paid to do so.

A termite treating company will apply the products per label and if nothing gets in the way of the termiticides, termite control should be achieved. Problem is, termite contracts are not worded that way, so the term œtermite protection is subjective. The homeowner is thinking he is getting total protection. Get the house treated and there will be no termites or termite damage. The termite treating company is thinking if all the label rules are followed and the termite treatment crew has been properly trained, that is the extent of my responsibility. There's a big, unanswered gap between those two perceptions and it needs to be closed.

But, how do you hold the termite treatment responsible for something caused by the contractor? When the house was built the plans called for clean soil to fill in the trench along the foundation walls. No one saw the concrete subcontractor dump his extra concrete load into the foundation trench. Does the homeowner or termite contractor pursue the building contractor in hopes of having him pay for the additional termite treatment required and possible damages caused by the unchecked termites?

There is no clear answer to this dilemma, but reason suggests that the homeowner and termite treatment company find mutual ground. The homeowner needs to have a termite re-treatment and repair damages caused by the termites. The termite treatment company needs to resolve the customer's complaint and keep its good reputation in tact. Therefore, both parties must take some responsibility. The homeowner failed to disclose that the foundations were blocked by a clunk of concrete, even though he was unaware of it, and the termite contractor failed to ask if anything would block his treatment. Checkmate!

Both parties are at fault and both parties need to step up. Situations such as these can be worked out if both parties keep cool heads, or the issues can be resolved using a mediator. Both parties have learned that more questions need to be asked and better service contracts need to be written.

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