December 2003 Edition

Termite Treatment

Most pest control companies have gone to the Sentricon System. Is this the only solution for eliminating termites?

Each year termites cause more damage to homes than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires combined – what’s worse, most insurance does not cover termite damage. That’s why no issue is more important to the survival of a home than termite control.

Improvements in professional termite control products have given homeowners more options than ever for protecting their homes from damage. Here are four simple questions homeowners can ask to ensure their pest control professional is using the best termite product available.


"What type of termite insecticide do you recommend?"

Most pest control professionals offer one of two termite treatments – bait/monitoring systems and liquid treatments. These two treatments work very differently, and the level of termite control provided by each can vary significantly.

"How long will it take for this treatment to start working?"

One of the major differences between liquid insecticides and bait/monitoring systems is the time it takes for each treatment to begin working.

Before a pest control professional adds the active ingredient to a bait/monitoring system, he first must observe sufficient termite activity within one of the "stations" that are placed in the ground at intervals around a home. It can take months for termites to even encounter these stations.

In contrast, some newer liquid termite treatments work immediately. Applied around a home using accepted, time-tested methods, these insecticides control termites once they encounter the treatment.

"Will this treatment control all of my termites?"

Bait/monitoring systems require termites to encounter a station for control, but there is no guarantee that termites will ever come into contact with these stations during normal activity.

The effectiveness of liquid treatments differs from one product to the next. Older treatment types act as a barrier, repelling termites as they approach a home. However, termites can be as small as the size of a grain of rice and will find breaks in the barrier, rendering these treatments useless.

Termidor® termite control is the most effective of a group of newer liquid treatments. Termidor allows termites to forage in a treated area, then unknowingly pass the insecticide on to other termites during normal activity. This ensures that even termites that don’t directly come into contact with a treated area will still be eliminated. Termidor is the only treatment using this unique "Transfer Effect" action, and is the only one that consistently wipes out 100% of termites.

"How long will this treatment take to completely get rid of my termite problem?"

Bait/monitoring systems rely on termites to find stations, so they may take months to begin working and years to achieve control. Liquid treatments work significantly faster. In fact, Termidor controls 100% of termites in three months or less, the only termite treatment to boast such effectiveness and speed.

Taking the next step.

Armed with this knowledge, homeowners should feel prepared to discuss termite control options with a pest control professional. Ensuring a professional is using the best product to control termites is the most effective way to guarantee one’s home is protected from such a threat.

Only Termidor-certified pest control professionals have authorization to purchase and use Termidor. For a list of these professionals, homeowners can call 1-877-TERMIDOR, or visit


Cleaning Chimney Flues

Is there a rule of thumb on how often to clean the chimney for a wood burning fireplace? What does a dirty flue look like?

No, there isn’t a simple rule of thumb, such as cleaning after 50 uses or one year. The problem is, creosote can form when wood is burned incompletely. A smoky fire without enough oxygen emits lots of unburned tar vapors that can condense inside the flue and stick to it, possibly leading to a chimney fire. You can reduce creosote buildup in your fireplace by providing adequate combustion air, which will encourage a hot, clean-burning fire.


To check for creosote yourself, first make sure there’s no downdraft from the chimney. If you feel an airflow, open a door or window on the same floor as the fireplace until the downdraft stops or reverses and air flows up (tape tissue to the fireplace opening and watch its movement). Then, while wearing goggles and a basic disposable dust mask, take a strong flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If the groove you scratch in the creosote is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. if it’s 1/8 in. thick, schedule a cleaning soon. If you have 1/4 in. of creosote, do not use the fireplace again until it is cleaned—a chimney fire could occur at any time.

To check for creosote, shine the light near the top of the firebox in the smoke chamber and around the damper. And check the flue, too, especially on exterior chimneys where creosote builds faster than on interior chimneys because of lower outside temperatures.

The easiest creosote to remove is the feather-light dull gray, brown or black soot. The next form is a black granular accumulation, removed fairly easily with a stiff chimney brush. The third type of creosote is a road tar—like coating that is much harder to remove even with stiff chimney brushes, scrapers or power rotary whips. The final (and most deadly) is a shiny, glaze-like coating on the flue that is virtually impossible to remove.

You could try to remove creosote yourself, but for a thorough job, call a chimney sweep who’s certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. (Visit http://www.csia.orgor call 800-536-0118 for referrals by state.) Make sure the sweep you hire ($150 to $200) does more than push a brush. A chimney sweep needs to be knowledgeable about building codes, trained to recognize deterioration or venting problems and able to advise you regarding the chimney’s condition. In addition the National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected at least once per year.

Source: The Family Handyman, September 2003

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

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