What Happens to Your Home During a Fumigation?

home being tented for termites.

Ever wondered what goes on under the tent?

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen those big stripped tents go up and over houses in your neighborhood and even on large commercial structures in your town. Those tents mean one thing – Stay Out!

When a termite inspection reveals that you have a drywood termite infestation, usually the best option is fumigation. Your termite extermination company will pump a gas fumigant into your home that will seep through all the cracks and kill the termites munching inside your walls. Obviously if a gas can kill termites, it can also be harmful to you, your family, your pets, and even your houseplants! That is why you are not allowed to stay in your home during the fumigation. You’ll also notice that termite companies will take many precautions to help keep you and your family safe during this process, like:

  • Showing you how to double bag all of your open food. (Read our previous blog post on protecting your food during fumigation).
  • Advising you to contact your natural gas company far in advance of the fumigation to turn off service to your home.
  • Locking all the doors and windows in your home.
  • Posting notices around the home warning of the toxic gas inside.
  • Using fumigant mixed with chloropicrin (tear gas) to warn away people
  • And finally, that big, unmissable striped tent

How Long Does the Fumigation Take?

We’ve written in the past about how to successfully prepare your home for fumigation, but it’s just as important that you know what to expect during and after the fumigation process. When your home undergoes fumigation for drywood termites, you will typically need to leave your home for three days. That means that you, your family, and your pets (houseplants included) need to stay somewhere else during that time.

If you have nearby and sympathetic family members, you can save money by sleeping on a friendly couch. If you need to stay close to work or your children’s schools, it may be easier to rent a hotel room or a motel for a few days or even a home or apartment through Airbnb. Heck, maybe this is the excuse you needed to take your family on vacation!

What Happens During Fumigation?

On the first day of the fumigation process, your termite extermination team will place fans inside your home, and that big, bright tent will make its appearance over your house. The team will also put up all of the necessary warning signs and begin to circulate the gas. At Best-Rate Termite, we use Vikane fumigant. For the rest of the day, the gas will do its thing, spreading throughout your home and poisoning your unwanted termite guests.

It actually only takes the Vikane fumigant one day to do its work, but then the extermination team must make sure to pull the gas out of your home. This is where the fans come in. On the second day, the team will turn on the fans, which will vent out the gas where it will harmlessly disperse.

Just to make completely sure that your home is safe, the team will wait an extra day and then take air samples in your home to test the concentration of the gas. Once the measurements of the Vikane gas are 5 parts per million or below, your house will officially be certified safe to re-enter. Just in case you feel nervous at the thought of any gas left in your home, even if it’s at such a small concentration, know that the gas has been extensively tested and has been found to be safe even at 100 parts per million.

Coming Home After Termite Fumigation

If all goes according to plan, your home should be certified safe to enter in the afternoon on the third day of the fumigation. The fumigator will place a re-entry notice on the front door of your home, and the tent and fans will be removed.

This re-entry notice is important, because the utility company will not resume service to your home without it. You’ll also need to make a special “fumigation gas turn on/unlock” appointment with your utility company and be available to meet a utility worker at your home in order to get your gas turned on. If possible, make this appointment at least a week or two before the scheduled fumigation. Otherwise, if you only call to make an appointment after the tent comes off your home, you may not be slotted in for a few days, and cold showers are no fun, especially in winter!

Once the tent is off your home and your gas is back on, it’s time to unpack your suitcases, un-bag your food, and get back into the normal swing of things. Many fumigation companies offer warranties guaranteeing against a new infestation for a certain period of time. Keep all of your paperwork, especially the warranty, just in case you notice a new termite problem in the near future.

If you have any questions about the fumigation process or need a termite inspection for your San Diego home, contact Best-Rate Termite, your termite inspection and fumigation specialist in San Diego and San Diego County.