Ask the Expert: Termite Warranties and Woodpeckers


February 1, 2013

Q: Many of my customers were flooded during Hurricane Sandy. Many of them have termite warranties with me. Should I be retreating to maintain the warranties? Can I just keep the warranties going without retreating? If retreatment is necessary, should I charge, or does the existing warranty cover the cost of retreatment? D.K, N.J.

A: There are scientific, legal and business considerations when answering these questions. From the scientific aspect, consider that flooding alone won’t move the termiticide, so it’s still in place and active. If the soil didn’t move, the barrier (or treatment zone) is intact, so no retreatment is necessary. However, if the treated soil was washed away, you no longer have termiticide in the critical areas. In this case, the question becomes “do I retreat or not” to maintain the warranty.

A legal consideration: The label prohibits retreatment unless termite activity is noted or the soil has been disturbed. If the soil didn’t move, you can’t retreat unless live termites are found. However, if the soil moved, you can retreat.

The business considerations: If you don’t retreat but continue the warranty, you might be faced with an abnormal number of retreatments. That will cost you money and possibly leave you vulnerable to damage claims. It would seem best to retreat if the soil moved and carried away your original termiticide treatment. This would prevent reinfestation and minimize damage claims.

Regarding charging for retreatment, most warranties state retreatment is necessary if the treated soil is disturbed. Therefore, the customer shouldn’t expect retreatment for nothing. But because warranties are the most profitable part of the termite business, try to retain as many as possible. How much you charge for a retreat is your decision, but if it were my decision, I’d make the charge as reasonable as possible.

Q: I have termite warranties with many properties where the houses are raised on wood pilings, which were drilled and treated with a borate to prevent termites from tunneling through the pilings to reach the house. During Hurricane Sandy, the pilings were under water for two to three days. Has the borate leached out, and do I need to reapply it? G.R., Del.

A:Borates will leach from wood if the wood is kept wet for extended periods, which is why wood in direct contact with the soil shouldn’t be treated with a borate. Treated pilings under water for a few days won’t lose any significant amount of borate. I don’t think there’s
any need to retreat to replace the borate. Your original treatment is still intact.

Q: A woodpecker has been attacking the cedar shake siding on a home. We have dropped netting from the eaves to discourage the bird. That worked for a few days, but then the bird began working on another side of the house. The homeowner doesn’t want netting over his entire house. Would a rat snap trap nailed to the siding and baited with suet work? T.P., Okla.

A: It sure would. However, woodpeckers are protected, and that would be illegal. Even if the homeowner did it, it would be illegal,
and anyone involved would be subject to a significant fine as much as $25,000. I suggest the homeowner contact his local Federal Fish and Wildlife agent for options.

Contact Dr. Mampe, an industry consultant, at

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