Fumigation for Termites

Fumigation is a treatment that is used mainly with a particular species of termites - drywood termites. One of the more common types, subterranean termites, are usually treated with other methods (because they have underground tunnels that are vulnerable to bait systems).
Drywood termites are often treated with fumigation, which generally involves using one of two major gases throughout your house: vikane or methyl bromide.

However, methyl bromide isn't really being used anymore in the United States.
How does it work?
You'll have to leave your house, and it will be covered entirely with a bunch of tarps (often called tenting). The house then gets locked up so no one can get in, and the exterminators will pump gas into your house, leaving it there long enough for it to get into the wood.
 

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After that, the tarps are taken down and the air pumped out of your house. Once it's been certified to be safe, you can reenter.
Is it safe?
Yes - you definitely don't want to get exposed to the gases. But they are often pumped in with chemicals that are basically tear gas. The only purpose is to make sure that anyone who tries to reenter when gas is still inside the house will know to get back out. Any good company is going to completely lock down your house so there's no way you or your family can get back in, and they will test the air for safety.

Generally, Vikane will be diluted if it hits open air to the point that it's no longer dangerous to people. So if your neighbors are doing it, and after it's been completed, you don't have anything to worry about. It's been tested in small amounts on lab animals for several weeks at a time with no ill effects. You just absolutely don't want to go inside until you get the OK to do so.

What do I need to do to prepare my house?

First of all, nothing alive should be left in your house. No pets, no people, no kids, no fish, no plants. Anything you don't want dead, don't leave in there.

Second, you will need to either throw your food away, take it with you, or put it into protective bags.

Third, if you're using Vikane, you'll want to make sure no mattresses or pillows are encased in covers. You either need to take them out of the house with you or remove the cover.

How long does it take?

It can be anywhere from half a day to two days. You shouldn't try to come back in until the pest control company tells you that it's safe.

Sources and Useful Links:

http://www.tigertermite.com/vikane-facts.htm

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Industrial-Health-Safety-3630/Vikane-tenting-termites.htm

http://www.proventermitesolutions.com/pdf/U01-069-090_Vikane_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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