Remodeling revealed termites -- now what?

I'm a little annoyed. I would appreciate some help deciding what to do.
I live in Palo Alto, California -- 30 miles south of San Francisco. The house was built around 1940. A second story was added in 1985. My (now) wife bought the house in 1990. We got married in 2002 and I moved in. The house has a foundation (not a slab). Most of the exterior is stucco.
A few months after I moved in, a pest control guy knocked at the door saying that he was here to check the termite traps. I asked my wife about it. She said that in 1999 she found a lot of "wings" in several places inside the house. Friends told her it was termites and recommended a pesty control company. It's a company that has offices throughout at least Northern California. She said they installed "traps"around the house, which they check each month. I asked her how much that costs and she said, $45/mo. I asked her if they ever found any termites and she said no. I told her I thought it was a scam and we cancelled the contract.
A few weeks ago, we started some remodeling. As part of the work, the contractors removed the stucco on part of the back and discovered an active termite colony. It goes at least all the way to the second floor and it appears to to into the second floor plywood. They will be removing more of the stucco over the next few days so we'll see how far it goes.
So, I asked my wofe if she had the original contract from the termite company. Being the diligent person that she is, she found it. There is a glitsy, glossy 3-page folder touting the Sentricon System explaining how they first attact the termites to the bait traps, then when they find termites, they send them back with a poison to kill the colony.
The enclosed contract shows that she paid $1,850 to have the Sentricon System installed. It does not say anything about any spraying or other treatment of the existing colony or structure. It then calls for monthly inspections at $45/month, although I am sure they never came out more than every 3 months and spent maybe 15 minutes.
Well, now we do have termites and since at least some parts of the underlying structure of the house will be exposed, it's a good time to make sure we get it checked.
Here are my questions:
1. Should I call the same company and find out why they didn;t find any termites with their little traps?
2. Do I have any recourse to make them treat the current infestation or pay for it? Would I even trust them to do it right this time? I read the entire contract. I don't see any kind of a guarantee at all.
3. How can I find a reputable and competent company for a second or third opinion?
4. What is the recommended treatment? If the infestation is contained to the area already exposed, can I avoid tenting the entire house? I tend to think that it is unlikely that we just happened to espose the only colony. (sigh)
5. Any other comments or suggestions?
Thanks
--
For email, use snipped-for-privacy@spamex.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Terminix has a garantee. Sounds like you need one this time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Most likely you have subterranean termites. Look for mud tubes (termite tunnels) the size of a pencil which should go from the damaged area to the soil. Any exterminator will be able to pump poison into the underground area where the termite nest is. They usually treat the perimeter of the foundation.
Tenting is only required if you have an infestation of dry wood termites (if you cannot find tunnels). Tenting will not affect subterranean termites.
Perimeter treatment might set you back 1 or 2 thousand bucks. Shop around.
Of course, after you get rid of the termites, you may want to repair the damaged areas, if they represent a structural problem.
No big deal. This will probably not be your last encounter with termites. Most California homes have had, or have, or will have termites at various times.
--
Walter
www.rationality.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

The previous inspection reported subterranean termites. The perimeter treatment works because they cannot survive just in the wood? They need to return to the ground and if they cannot, because of the treatment, they die?

So the inspector should be able to find mud tunnels. Are these hard to find or easily missed?

How can I tell if I am getting an appropriate treatment?

I've lived in California (same general area) since 1970. First encounter that I know of. Maybe just lucky or ignorant.
--
For email, use snipped-for-privacy@spamex.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
LurfysMa wrote:

That is probably about standard. Does the contract address infestation after service is discontinued?

Annual inspections by licensed, competent, reputable contractor are a must.

Traps are installed, filled with wood. Wait until termites take the bait, then place termiticide in the traps with wood.

Traps are for subterranean termites, one of two major types. The other is drywood. Then there are damp wood and different flavors in each category. Sub's require different treatment than dry. Our county extension service has entymologists to id insects. Give yours a try.
Here is a link: http://www.sccgov.org/channel/0,4770,chid%253D61054,00.html

That would be the "good news" part. If your stucco goes below grade, the most favorable set up for termites, you likely have them in other locations. Termites do not like daylight, so they go from ground into interior wood, or they build mud tubes to get from ground to wood. All types, along with ants, swarm during mating season - pairs fall in love, fly away, land in the house, shed their wings and set up housekeeping. Shed wings are one of the major signs of infestation. Dry wood termites can enter through small gaps around doors/windows, pipes, etc. Since they don't like daylight, they tunnel the interior parts where there is cellulose (wood, paper covering on wallboard, etc). Often, where they have eaten away wood or paper, there will be a blistered appearance on the surface. I found a board, exterior wood trim on our condo, 1x12, with a section having nothing left but the paint coating. Big clue for prevention: termites do not eat through paint.

entries or through small cracks. I haven't read up lately on the effectiveness of bait systems, as it was too new to tell when I was looking at Florida info. Your county web has links to info about treatments. Good luck.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@invalid.invalid says... :) The enclosed contract shows that she paid $1,850 to have the Sentricon :) System installed. It does not say anything about any spraying or other :) treatment of the existing colony or structure. It then calls for :) monthly inspections at $45/month, although I am sure they never came :) out more than every 3 months and spent maybe 15 minutes. :) :) Well, now we do have termites and since at least some parts of the :) underlying structure of the house will be exposed, it's a good time to :) make sure we get it checked. :) :) Here are my questions: :) :) 1. Should I call the same company and find out why they didn;t find :) any termites with their little traps? :) :) 2. Do I have any recourse to make them treat the current infestation :) or pay for it? Would I even trust them to do it right this time? I :) read the entire contract. I don't see any kind of a guarantee at all.
You have seen the down fall of baiting...toooo much money for the lack of results. The excuse of the company is that the termites must of shown up after you had cancelled the contract 2-3 years ago, when I would be more surprised if they hadn't been there all along ,even while the home was being inspected. You can try to get them to move on it, but chances are they won't. I would suggest that you have several reputable companies inspect it for more activity. :) 3. How can I find a reputable and competent company for a second or :) third opinion? Neighbors...friends..family. Find out who they are satisfied with.
:) 4. What is the recommended treatment? If the infestation is contained :) to the area already exposed, can I avoid tenting the entire house? I :) tend to think that it is unlikely that we just happened to espose the :) only colony. (sigh)
Assuming you are dealing with sub terranean termites, I would suggest a treatment with a product called Termidor..even if you had been paying for the company doing sentricon up to this time you would be better protected by dropping them and having the home treated with termidor..at the savings of $450+ a year your wife was paying would pay for the termidor treatment within 4 years. Tenting the home would only be necessary for dry wood termites, which actually live in the structure rather than just coming out of the ground to feed. :) 5. Any other comments or suggestions? :) With stucco siding, it probably goes below the soil line which can be a problem. Changing the grade around the foundation may be in order, and have seen some actually have the lower portion of the stucco removed so the foundation could be seen.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

A guy from Terminix looked at the active colony exposed by the remodeling and said that the pellets were from drywood termites -- not subterranean.
Does that sound right?
He's coming out tomorrow for a more thorough inspection.
--
For email, use snipped-for-privacy@spamex.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
LurfysMa wrote:

Heh! Your "scammed" wife dealt with a problem in 1999, after which there was no further evidence of infestation.
You took over from the little woman three years later and cancelled the coverage (plus the warranty). Three years later, you discover a massive, two-story termite attack.
Boy, I'd hate to be you.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HeyBub wrote:

Be very careful here, if she cancelled the contract then the termite company can reserve the right to dishonor their end of this deal. Have them come back out and do a "field" diagnosis on the wings that were seen. Many a times when a homeowner sees these wings they assume one subterranean when in fact they may drywood. Drywood Termites are the only species I know of that tenting would be required.
Also, give the company the benefit of the doubt. I know of several operators that get upset down here because the homeowner cries "foul", and they want to immediately seek aggressive action on this. Get with the owner and explain what you have seen. Remain calm, if the company is reputable (you said there were several in N CA) then they're not going to risk the reputation on this. I'm willing to bet that if you call the manager/owner out there, they'd be willing to properly diagnose, offer any help thay can, and keep you happy. But I will give you a "heads up". If you did cancel the contract the company CAN refuse the right to honor it. But try to talk with them and see what happens.
Good Luck

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
^Be very careful here, if she cancelled the contract then the termite company can reserve the right to dishonor their end of this deal. Have them come back out and do a "field" diagnosis on the wings that were seen. Many a times when a homeowner sees these wings they assume one subterranean when in fact they may drywood. Drywood Termites are the only species I know of that tenting would be required.^
Very sound words .
I see possibilities in the fact that the " wife " may have cancelled the contact. Was there an actual cancel ? Did the PCO somehow lose the routing info ? I do know that in some counties in Ca . that termite inspection and treatments are registered governmentally .
All in all , always try to open a friendly communication (harassing) of the former PCO in question . Opportunity may arise that the PCO will grant a major discount in present infestation and be more focused on your circumstance . I know I would , because , especially with the Sentricon System , re-infestations are extremely rare. (If done correctly).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@juno.com says...
:) especially with the Sentricon system, re-infestations are extremely rare. (If done correctly). :) :) Rare with Sentricon???????? I have yet to see a house with Sentricon go 5 years(being kind here) without termites showing back up on the structure if not ever being eliminated to begin with. Four homes this year I inspected with current Sentricon coverage...all 4 had termites..several others had been canceled within the year that had activity and I doubt if all the termites only showed up after the contract was cancelled.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have yet to see a house with Sentricon go 5 years(being kind here).
Notice I said , if the Sentricon system was done correctly .
This does not mean whip monitoring stations around the perimeter and check them out every 3 months . Very critical to capture, bait , and keep the termites well fed . Direct baiting of the interior and heavy monitoring also helpful .
Traditional liquid termiticides do not abosorb well , if at all , when stucco or styrofoam insulation board is involved in foundation at or below grade of the structure .
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@juno.com says... :) Notice I said , if the Sentricon system was done correctly .
so if the company that originally had the rights to Sentricon when it came out can't do it properly..or the half a dozen or so companies that were able to apply a few years later can't get it right, one would begin to think hmmmmm :) This does not mean whip monitoring stations around the perimeter and check :) them out every 3 months . Very critical to capture, bait , and keep the :) termites well fed . Direct baiting of the interior and heavy monitoring also :) helpful .
$2400 initial service between $350-$450 a year to maintain..an expecation of 18-24 months for elimination..even with constan monitoring/baiting.
:) Traditional liquid termiticides do not abosorb well , if at all , when :) stucco or styrofoam insulation board is involved in foundation at or below :) grade of the structure .
Not sure why this would be an issue...the treatment should be below the bottom of the stucco..along with suggesting the proper grade corrections...even the extreme of "trimming" the bottom of the stucco may be in line.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
All bait systems will kill termites IF, and only if, they are serviced properly. There is where the problem lies - poor service.
Our customers have the Advance Termite Bait System installed, and we have eliminated termites from most of those homes. I say most because the most recent installations are still feeding.
I inspect after we have signs of elimination, to see if we can find termite activity. Even had one customer that replaced all of their siding - NO TERMITES.
Termidor is a good option for control. But you need to get the stucco cut off above grade for it to be fully successful.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Budget Bug Man wrote:

The right chemical is not the only important factor. The home owner needs a contractor with experience, reliable references, and a good contract.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.