Effective pest control typically involves the use of toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and environment if misapplied or mishandled. Annually, there are over a million exposures, more than 530,000 hospitalizations, and an average of 23 fatalities linked to pesticides. Hence, resolving a pest infestation is a matter of saving your household goods as much a matter of staying in good health.
An exterminator has the relevant equipment, education, and experience for effective pest control and application of all kinds of pesticides. Additionally, a qualified exterminator knows how to locate the source of an infestation and prevent a repeat occurrence. Do not hire anyone near you who claims to be a pest control specialist without asking the following essential questions:
Are You a Licensed Exterminator?
All states and the D.C. mandate exterminators (also known as pest control applicators) to hold a state-level license to practice. Licensure requirements, procedures, and fees differ from state to state. On the average, an exterminator license costs $250 to obtain, requires 250 days of education and experience, and passing two exams.
When hiring any exterminator near you, request a copy of these licenses to ensure your contractor is conversant with the delicate nature of pest control chemical application. Contact the state licensing department to determine the status of your exterminator's license.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Exterminator?
Exposure to pest control chemicals is harmful to applicators and may prove fatal. For example, in 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 7 work-related fatalities and 1,870 occupational injuries among pest control workers.
If an exterminator mishandles pesticides during the application, it could have a health and environmental impact. The exterminator you want to hire for pest control should demonstrate financial responsibility by providing proof of surety bond and insurance. A pest control bond is required by an exterminator to protect the general public. It is a guarantee that a pesticide applicator will abide by all regulations regarding pesticide applications in a bid to ensure public safety. If a bonded exterminator's action causes a negative environmental impact while working on your property, you do not have to worry about the financial implications. The bonding agency will pay the state for whatever damages are caused by the applicator.
Likewise, it is essential to hire an insured exterminator near you. Liability insurance is evidence that an exterminator is capable of paying you for any damages they cause you or a third-party during and after their work on your property. Make sure to request an exterminator to provide proof of these two requirements before hiring them. You can establish the authenticity of such details by contacting the bonding agency and the insurance company.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Pest control has specialties such as fumigation, rodent control, and termite control. However, they are all a part of the training taken by professional exterminators. Having said that, before hiring the service of an exterminator, you should ask them their area of specialization as they may be more proficient at one than the rest. This way, you can get the best out of a pest control service. Generally, exterminators take comprehensive training in the use of pesticides and safety that qualifies them in providing pest control services.
Who Will Do the Work?
Ensure to know who will handle the pest control work on your property when hiring an exterminator service. Sometimes, the contractor you hire for a pest control service may also have other workers in their employment. If an alternative worker is sent to your home instead of the contractor you have been talking to, confirm that such individuals have the required training to exterminate pests. Additionally, be sure that they are bonded and insured to mitigate financial risks in case of casualties when working on your property. Finally, inquire about the number of persons who will do the job and consider the cost to decide whether or not to hire an exterminator.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Do not hire an exterminator near you who is not willing to offer you a warranty. The warranty must be written and given to you before the commencement of their job. Typically, a professional exterminator will grant a one-year warranty. If offered, make sure to read its content thoroughly and seek clarifications on any gray area. An exterminator's warranty guarantees that the service provided is adequate and promises to deal with future infestations within the warranty period at no cost to you. Provided a warranty has not expired, you can call an exterminator even months after their job if you observe a reinfestation.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Permits are not required for exterminators whose job scope is residential or commercial buildings. Typically, a permit is only required for any service that has the potential of causing a significant change to a home structure. An exterminator can work without fear once they have a license to apply restricted-use pesticides. You should, however, confirm their licensure to use these pesticides for pest control before hiring and permitting them to work on your property. Contact the local building department office near you to determine if there are other requirements to use pesticides in your neighborhood.
Will You Provide References?
Getting references from an exterminator can give you insight into their competence or otherwise. Any professional exterminator will not hesitate to provide references from previous works if you ask them. However, never settle for anything short of at least three references, particularly from their most recent jobs. A valid job reference should contain the client's name and contact information. When availed, call and find out if they are satisfied with the service provided by the exterminator. You can also ask if they will hire them for future pest control jobs. A happy reference will answer yes without hesitation, while a dissatisfied one will say no.
Alternatively, if the exterminator you intend to hire operates a website, you may check clients' reviews of their previous jobs and then decide whether to hire them or not. Third-party websites such as Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau contain reviews from previously served clients of your exterminator near you. You may also contact the National Pest Management Association (NMPA) or your state pest control association to obtain reviews about a prospective exterminator.
Do You Have a Business License?
The pest control industry is a regulated one in the United States. As such, any person in the business is expected to own a pest control business license. Make sure to ask a prospective exterminator to provide their business license before hiring them. The essence is to determine if such an exterminator is a qualified professional. Typically, there are requirements that an exterminator must satisfy to obtain a pest control business license and competence is one of them. Registration for a pest control business license is usually at the county Agricultural Commissioner's Office in the county where an exterminator operates. You can contact this office to verify the validity of a prospective exterminator.
What are Common Pest Control Problems?
Most pests find shelter in many homes, especially in winter, to avoid the cold weather. No matter how hard you try during this period, pests will defy every effort by you to prevent them from entering your home. It is practically impossible to prevent small insects from gaining entry into your house. The following problems are faced by homeowners who attempt pest control on their own, hiring a professional exterminator will, however, address them:
- Rodents - They are carriers of viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as Rickettsia and Q fever. Rodents also damage properties in many ways, especially by gnawing them. They are around the house all year round.
- Insects - Common and small insects like mosquitoes, ants, and roaches will always find their way into your home. They often get in through open doors and windows. Luckily for homeowners, insect repellents and insecticides can provide partial control, but hiring an exterminator will permanently control them.
- Bed bugs - Bed bug bites leave horrible signs on mattresses, furniture, rugs, and bedspreads. They usually cause serious infestation problems.
How Much Does Pest Control Cost?
Generally, the cost of pest control in the United States is determined by the exterminators and the infestation type. The cost of termite control is between $500 and $3,000, while it is $80 to $500 for ant control. The amount paid for insect control ranges between $111 and $261, with a national average cost of $177. For bed bug control, the minimum charge is $300 while it is $5,000 at the upper end. The price of roach fumigation is between $100 and $400. It costs between $100 and $300 to hire an exterminator for most insect control jobs. They are hired for between $2,000 and $8,000 for severe infestations requiring fumigation.
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Extermination?
The following are some of the factors that affect the cost of extermination in the United States:
- Infestation Severity - Typically, a more severe infestation attracts a higher cost than a mild one. An exterminator will have to inspect your property to determine this.
- Property Size - The size of your property has a significant impact on the cost of pest control. A bigger home will take more time or labor and an additional number of pesticide products than a small apartment.
- Type of Pest - The cost of controlling some pests is higher than others. For instance, bed bug control typically costs more than mosquito or ant control.
- Frequency of Treatments - A severe infestation may require repeated visits by an exterminator who may charge for each visitation.
What Qualifications Should an Exterminator Have?
A high school diploma or its equivalent qualifies anyone to work as an exterminator. However, such persons must be 18 years or older and take on-the-job training. The training, which is often an apprenticeship, mostly runs for a maximum of three months. It offers a trainee exterminator the opportunity to specialize in any aspect of pest control. These include fumigation, termite control, and rodent control.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Professional Exterminator?
While hiring a handyman near you for your home pest control may be cheaper, you should always hire a professional exterminator for every pest control job. Pesticides are potentially hazardous and can cause serious health issues if not correctly applied. A handyman is not well equipped with the right tools and does not have the required training to apply restricted-use pesticides. A professional exterminator will handle pest control by dealing with the source of an infestation. A handyman does not have such expertise. They will typically do a sham job that will leave some pests behind, leading to reinfestation and possibly more damage to your property. Additionally, a handyman is not insured or bonded, and you may end up bearing the cost of fatality encountered by them while working on your property if you hire them.
What Are the Common Post Extermination Expenses?
Generally, you will not bear any significant expenses after extermination. However, there are things you should do after pest control sprays. These include:
- Throwing out any food that may have been exposed to pesticides during an extermination
- Closing up every opening identified by an exterminator in a bid to prevent more pests from infesting your home. Openings include cracks, vents, any space between the attic and roof, space between doors and floors, and holes on plumbing pipes
- General cleaning of your home. However, avoid a deep clean for at least seven days after extermination to prevent rubbing off pesticides prematurely.
Note, due to proximity, hiring contractors near you may limit these post extermination expenses.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Extermination Expenses?
Insurers regard most infestations as a consequence of poor maintenance habits by homeowners. Hence, homeowners insurance typically does not cover extermination expenses, except you can prove a proximate cause. A proximate cause in this instance is an event covered by your policy that led to infestation. For example, your insurer will reimburse any expenses incurred on extermination if you have a burst pipe that leads to infestation if a burst pipe is included in your policy. They will also pay for any unexpected damages caused by pests.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay An Exterminator?
Like most small businesses, exterminators near you would accept digital payments for their services. You can use payment platforms such as Square Cash, Apple Pay, Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal. However, make sure to discuss with an exterminator and obtain their consent if you wish to settle them using digital payment.