How Does Termite Fumigation Work?

Angela Brown
Written by Angela Brown
Updated October 19, 2021
Family walks out of house with luggage
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Prepare your family and pets for a days-long adventure when you need your home fumigated

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Termite fumigation is an inconvenient process. But, getting rid of the little wood-eaters is less inconvenient than paying thousands of dollars in damage after they’ve used the wood structures in your home as their buffet. The best way to ensure that the damage stops is to eradicate the bugs through fumigation. 

Termite fumigation involves a giant tent over your home, some gnarly chemicals, and a mini-vacation for your family. 

What Is Termite Fumigation?

Termite fumigation is the process of eliminating termites via tenting the home and exposing the termites to fumigants. Fumigation makes the most sense for more severe cases where heat treatment or termiticides aren’t possible. This happens when the termites become widespread, so it’s difficult to locate the source of the problem.

How Do I Prep My Home for Termite Fumigation?

The gas used to kill the termites in your home can be dangerous to pets and humans, so you’ll need to leave your home for at least 48 hours (sometimes longer). Before you go, there are a few things you should do first: 

Open doors and cupboards

Make sure to leave all of the doors to your rooms, closets, and bathrooms open. During fumigation, the open doors will allow the gas to travel between rooms and kill the termites wherever they are. 

Remove all pets

Be sure to remove all pets, plants, and people from your home, and that includes your fish! Fumigation is an invasive process, so you’ll need to plan to make sure you and your furry family members have a place to go.

Seal all consumable products in bags

Your fumigation specialist should provide specialty bags to protect all consumables against the poisonous gas. Be sure to bag all food, medications, pet food, tobacco, and toothpaste; you don’t need to seal unopened canned or jarred food. 

Prep the outside of your home

The fumigation specialist will put a tent over your home. You should plan to rake gravel or mulch at least a foot away from your house’s foundation before they arrive. If you have plants or bushes next to the house, talk to a professional to decide what to remove. 

Shut off gas service and handle mail

You may need to shut off gas services to your home for a few days. Your utility company can help you plan when to shut off the service and when to resume it. Make sure you don’t have any package deliveries scheduled for the time you’ll be away. You may even want to ask the postal service to hold your mail for a few days. 

What Happens During Termite Fumigation?

Aerial of house covered with termite fumigation tent.
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During the fumigation process, a professional will tent your home. Before gassing out the termites, the pest company will put a large tent over your home. This tent helps contain the gases used to kill the termites. 

The extermination company will give you instructions for handling your pets, family, plants, and food. Some exterminators will also use tear gas to deter curious neighbors from trying to take a peek.

How Long Does Fumigation Take?

The application process takes about six hours, depending on the size of your home. It takes another 24 to 48 hours for the poison to settle and dissipate so that you can return safely. Plan an extra day for preparing your home and returning things to normal once the fumigation is complete. 

What to Expect After a Fumigation

Once the fumigation process wraps up, the pest control specialist will air out your home, remove the tent, and clean up any materials left behind. You should have your gas turned back on once you’re ready to move back in. Some people feel more comfortable doing a deep clean afterward, though it’s unnecessary. 

Fumigation is an effective way to get rid of current infestations. However, fumigation does not prevent termites from reentering the home. You’ll need to take preventative measures to ensure your home stays safe from these pests in the future. 

Should I DIY or Hire a Professional?

You can fumigate on your own for most bugs. However, if you’re looking to rid your home of termites, it’s easier and safer to hire a professional company to complete the work. Professional companies have access to stronger fumigation materials than what’s available commercially. 

Additionally, tenting your home on your own could be difficult and expensive. If you have termites, you should hire a pest control specialist near you. Plan to spend between $1,200 and $2,500 to fumigate an average-sized home. 

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