Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in Washington D.C.
In 2019, 15.1 percent of households in the Washington D.C. area reported frequent rodent sightings in their homes. This percentage is higher than the national average, which stands at 11.9 percent. With rodent and other pest sightings in the district on the rise, hiring a professional exterminator to pest-proof your home is a wise investment not only to protect your health but also ensures that the job is done expertly. However, to ensure that the exterminator you hire is qualified to properly rid your home of pests and prevent further infestations, make sure that you get satisfactory answers to the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in Washington D.C.?
- Are You Registered with the Washington D.C. Pest Control Association?
- How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control Services and Why?
- Do You Comply with the Washington D.C. Regulations for Pesticide Application?
- What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?
- What Household Pests Do You Control?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Right Insurance Policy for Exterminators in Washington D.C.?
- How to File a Complaint Against a
- Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons
The activities of exterminators and pest control businesses that operate in Washington D.C. are regulated by the district's Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). Per the requirements of Title 20 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, individuals and businesses in the district that wish to offer pest control and other pesticide-related services must be certified and licensed by this department before doing so. Failure to comply with this certification and licensing requirement is considered a civil infraction and can result in jail time of up to 90 days, fines of up to $2,000, or a combination of both.
Interested parties that wish to undergo the DOEE's certification and licensing process may do so by completing and submitting Preliminary Application Forms ES-774 and 775 to the DOEE's Pesticide Program at:Government of the District of Columbia
Department of Energy and Environment
Toxic Substance Division/Hazardous Materials Branch
1200 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
The DOEE provides applicants with the option of applying by examination or by reciprocity. Applicants who choose to apply by examination will have to provide proof of acceptable on-the-job experience or educational qualifications. Likewise, applicants who choose to apply by reciprocity will have to provide a copy of their current pesticide applicator's license issued by the appropriate regulatory agency of the state where they received their licensing and certification.
Once the preliminary application forms have been received, reviewed, and approved, applicants will be mailed Basic Business License application forms for Pesticide Operators Licenses and Certified Pesticide Applicators Licenses that carry the DOEE's authorization stamp. These forms must then be completed and submitted to the Business Service Division of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) at:1104 4th Street SW
Washington, DC 20024
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
Note that additional information or documentation may have to be provided when these forms are being submitted. These include:
- A certificate of occupancy for physical business locations in the district
- Proof of tax registration with the district's Office of Tax and Revenue
- Proof of financial security in the form of liability insurance
Finally, once the requested licenses have been issued, applicants must return to the DOEE with these licenses and make arrangements to obtain a photo ID. These photo IDs must be carried by licensed pesticide applicators whenever they apply pesticides, and failing to do this makes the pesticide application illegal.
You can get additional information or direct queries concerning the DOEE's exterminator and pest control business licensing and certification process to its Pesticide Program at (202) 535-2600. You can also verify that your intended exterminator or pest control company has been properly licensed and certified by this department, either by calling the aforementioned number or by utilizing the Pesticide Business/Applicator Search online platform that it provides for this purpose.
When searching for professional pest control services in Washington D.C., in addition to ensuring that your exterminators are properly licensed and certified, you should also look out for membership in reputable trade associations. There is no local officially-endorsed pest control and management trade association in Washington D.C. Regardless of this, many professional exterminators in the district belong to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), which is the premier pest control association across the country. This association offers several benefits to its members, such as:
- Access to world-class education and certification programs and informative technical resources
- Access to better insurance options and business growth opportunities
- An avenue for a unified voice in relation to matters involving pest control regulations and legislature
All these benefits generally lead to exterminators that are overall more competent and professional than their non-member counterparts. In addition, the NPMA holds its members to high standards and provides consumers with a channel for mediation if they are unsatisfied with the pest control services that these members render.
You can find member exterminators of the NPMA that operate in Washington D.C. by accessing the association's online directory. Note that you should always verify claims of NPMA membership made by exterminators in the district and also confirm that these exterminators hold valid pesticide licenses and certifications issued by the district's Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE).
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that pest control workers in the Washington D.C. area earn average hourly wages of $21.60. However, several other factors also influence the total cost of retaining the services of exterminators and pest control workers in the district. These factors include:
- The type of pests in your home
- The size of the infested area
- The severity of the pest infestation
- Your specific location within the district
- Accessibility to the pest infested area
- The number of required pest treatments
- The types of pest control materials and devices that will be used
- The exterminator or pest control company's reputation
It is always a good idea to get and compare rates from at least three different exterminators and pest control companies in the district before making your final hiring decision. This ensures that you end up getting charged a fair rate for your required pest control services by helping you spot unscrupulous exterminators and pest control companies that grossly inflate their charges. Note that you should also be wary of rates that are suspiciously low or seem too good to be true, and request an explanation for any marked price differences that you notice. Do not hire any exterminator or pest control company that cannot satisfactorily explain why their rates are noticeably different from the rates of other exterminators and pest control companies in the district.
Pest control workers in Washington D.C. earn an average annual wage of $44,930. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the district with those in other locations across the United States:
Confirming that your preferred exterminator is conversant with the Washington D.C. Pesticides Laws and Regulations and follows all relevant provisions of these laws and regulations is crucial in ensuring that you receive optimal pest control services. Pertinent requirements of these pesticides laws and regulations include:
- All pesticides used, manufactured, sold, distributed, shipped, or applied in the district must be registered with the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
- Exterminators and pest control companies must be licensed and certified by the DOEE before offering any services to members of the public
- Pest control companies that are hired to apply pesticides must provide consumers with their contact information, the name of the person applying the pesticide, and the name and active ingredient of the pesticide to be applied before this pesticide application occurs
- A notice of pesticide application must be provided at least 48 hours before pesticides are applied on multi-unit properties in the district. Owners of these types of properties must also deliver notices to residents or tenants in the property at least 24 hours, and not more than seven days, before the pesticide application
- District agencies, district-owned and occupied properties, schools, and child-occupied facilities must have and implement a DOEE-approved integrated pest management program for pest control activities
- Fire stations close to fumigation sites must be notified before any fumigations are performed
You can contact the Washington D.C. Department of Energy and Environment at (202) 535-2600 to get additional information on the district's pesticides laws and regulations and the provisions of these regulations that may apply to your specific pest control activities. This department can also be contacted via email or in person at:1200 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
Another necessary criterion to check when searching for suitable pest control services in Washington D.C. is the type of pest control method that the exterminator intends to use for the job. Professional exterminators in the district typically use a combination of two or more of the following pest control methods to rid homes of bothersome pests:
- Biological pest control: in biological pest control, the natural enemies of a pest are used to stop its growth and spread in a target area. The most common household example of this is the use of cats to control rats, mice, and other similar rodents. The major disadvantage of this pest control method is that it largely depends on introducing the right organism into the target area and also requires constant monitoring to ensure that the introduced organisms do not become pests themselves
- Physical pest control: physical pest control involves the use of devices and equipment like baits, sprays, traps, mechanical rodent catchers, and ultrasonic or electromagnetic emitters like Pest Soldier and MaxMoxie to control pest infestations in a target area. Physical pest control typically has to be combined with another pest control method for optimal effectiveness
- Cultural pest control: in cultural pest control, habitat modifying techniques, like proper hygiene and sanitation, are used to make target areas inhospitable for pest growth and reproduction. This type of pest control is better suited for pest prevention activities and is not particularly effective in getting rid of already existing pest infestations
- Chemical pest control: chemical pest control uses pesticides and other similar chemicals to repel or kill pests in a target area. Examples of these pesticides include Home Pest Control Spray, CimeXa Insecticide Dust, Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide, and 50% Malathion Spray. Note that pesticides can pose health and environmental hazards if handled improperly, and this type of pest control should always be done by a professional
Many professional exterminators in the district implement an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy that combines the aforementioned pest control methods to ensure that pest problems are safely and effectively resolved. Nonetheless, you should always confirm the types of pest control methods that will be used for your required pest control service and ensure that these methods are suitable for the job. You can find professional exterminators in Washington D.C. that expertly combine pest control methods and implement IPM strategies by accessing online directories provided by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Pest Management Association.
Exterminators and pest control companies that operate in Washington D.C. generally offer services that cover a wide range of household pests, including, but not limited to, roaches, rats, mice, termites, termites, ants, and bed bugs. Nevertheless, you should always confirm the types of household pests that your preferred exterminators specialize in controlling as well as the types of pest control services that they offer to avoid any misunderstandings with them down the line. Pest control services offered by exterminators and pest control companies in the district can be grouped into three basic types, namely:
- Pest extermination: this involves dealing with already existing pest infestations
- Pest removal: the main difference between pest removal and pest extermination is that pest removal mostly focuses on pests like rats and mice that hide in nooks and crannies of homes. This service typically requires the use of baits and traps to catch these pests and may require multiple visits from the exterminator before the target pests are caught and removed
- Pest prevention: this involves taking measures to prevent pests from entering and infesting your home in the first place
Once you have confirmed that your preferred exterminator is equipped to offer your required pest control service, you should also find out how much you will be required to pay for these services and agree on these rates before any pest control work commences.
The estimated costs of some common pest control services offered by exterminators and pest control companies in Washington D.C. are listed below. It should be noted variables like the nature and severity of your pest problem as well as your specific location within the district may affect the actual cost of these services:
Per the requirements of the Washington D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, exterminators and pest control companies that operate in the district must carry liability insurance with the following minimum coverage limits:
- $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence for bodily injury
- $15,000 per occurrence and $30,000 aggregate for property damage
In addition, these exterminators and pest control companies are also required to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. It is always in your best interest to confirm the insurance status of your preferred exterminators before concluding any hiring agreements with them. Failing to do this exposes you to legal and financial liabilities if any work-related injuries or property damage occurs when your requested pest control services are being provided.
To this end, always ask any exterminator that you are considering hiring to provide you with a copy of their insurance certificate and contact the appropriate issuing insurance company to authenticate this certificate. You can also contact the district's Department of Energy and Environment and its Office of Workers' Compensation at (202) 535-2600 and (202) 671-1000 respectively to get additional information on the mandatory insurance requirements for Washington D.C. exterminators and pest control companies.
The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia is the lead agency tasked with consumer protection in Washington D.C. and you can file complaints against bad exterminators in the district with this office.
Complaints concerning misrepresented or unsatisfactory services are amongst the top ten categories of complaints made by consumers across the United States, with consumer complaints in the DC area alone increasing by over 70 percent between 2019 and 2021. As such, it is always in your best interest to look out for signs that you may be dealing with an unscrupulous or fraudulent exterminator or pest control company when searching for pest control services in the district. Some of these signs are:
- Unsolicited offers of pest inspections and other pest control services
- An urgency to get you to make decisions on the spot
- Hesitance to provide proof of licensing, certification, or insurance
- Hesitance to provide references or recommendations from past clients
- Requests for full payment upfront
- Hesitance to provide written contracts
The following tips can help protect you from bad exterminators and pest control companies when searching for legitimate pest control services in Washington D.C.:
- Do not hire unsolicited exterminators
- Get referrals to professional exterminators and pest control companies in the district from close friends and relatives or via online directories provided by reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Pest Management Association
- Be wary of exterminators that use high-pressure sales or scare tactics to try to get you to retain their services
- Always get cost estimates from several exterminators before making your final hiring decision
- Confirm the licensing and certification status of any exterminator or pest control company that you intend to hire via the DOEE's Pesticide Business/Applicator Search online platform
- Confirm your preferred exterminator's insurance status
- Be wary of exterminators or pest control companies that cannot provide you with at least three local verifiable references. Contact these references and get their reviews on the effectiveness of the exterminator's pest control services. You can also look up reviews on your preferred exterminator or pest control company online via third-party review websites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review
- Make sure that your exterminator or pest control company issues you a written service contract before they begin any work. Take the time to properly read and understand this contract before signing it
- Never pay the total cost of your required pest control service upfront
- Keep copies of all documents related to your pest control service
You can file complaints concerning unscrupulous exterminators, unsatisfactory pest control services, and exterminator-related consumer matters with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia online or by calling (202) 442-9828. Complaints can also be filed with this office via email or by texting the word complaint to (202) 738-5212 and following the guided prompts.
Matters concerning unlicensed pesticide applications and other suspected violations of the Washington D.C. Pesticide Laws and Regulations can also be reported to the district's Department of Energy and Environment online via the DC311 portal or by calling (202) 535-2600.
Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons
Reviewing criteria like an exterminator's licensing and certification status, area of specialization, pest control methods, reputation, and membership with a trade association can help narrow down your hiring choices when searching for professional pest control services in Washington D.C. Nevertheless, you may still end up with several qualified options to choose from. At this stage, many homeowners and property managers in the district are faced with the choice of hiring a local exterminator or a nationally-known pest control company like Orkin, Terminix, Bulwark, Aptive, Mosquito Joe, Arrow Exterminators, Hawx, Ehrlich, Truly Nolen, and Viking. When faced with this choice, you may make an informed selection by assessing the pros and cons of hiring a local or national pest control business based on the following variables: