Published on November 28, 2007
Safer Pest Control: Safer Pest Control Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind as you look for the right company and the right pest control method to resolve your pest problem. Lesson 5: How to select a safer pest control company Select a good pest control company: Select a good pest control company When most people discover a pest problem, they want to get rid of the pest right away. However, most pest problems can wait a few days so you have time to look for the right company and the right pest control method at a decent price. It is wise to get estimates from several companies; many will provide free estimates. If you have a pest problem you cannot take care of yourself, you may want to call an expert. Select a good pest control company: Select a good pest control company Good pest control companies should be able to take care of rodents; insects such as termites, roaches and ants; and other pests. They should be well trained and skilled at using a variety of methods. In fact, good pest control companies are sometimes able to control pests without using any pesticides. Select a good pest control company: Select a good pest control company -Selecting a pest control company should be like choosing any other service: look at the value for the dollar spent. Get estimates from several companies and compare the costs, services and products or methods they will use, and choose the best price for the services provided. -When pesticides are used, cost should not be the only factor you use to decide. Choosing a quality pest control company is an important decision. You want to solve your pest problem, but you also want to keep your home safe. Both health and property can be damaged through the misuse of pesticides. Beware of firms or people that...: Beware of firms or people that... Want to do pest control as part of a package deal--such as, general home repair or tree trimming--or will give you a special price if treatment is done immediately. Arrive unexpectedly and show you insects they have found in your neighbor's house as evidence of a neighborhood pest problem Sell services door-to-door. Some states have laws that require that a pest control contract contain a three day right-to-cancel clause. Quote a per gallon price. Termite control jobs can require several hundred gallons of dilute insecticide. Claim to have a special "secret" formula. Secret formulas are illegal. All products used for structural pest control must be registered by the USEPA. Claim to have excess material left from a previous job and offer a reduced price for immediate treatment. Claim to be endorsed by the State Department of Health or another government agency. Do your homework: Do your homework Find out as much about your pest problem as possible. Contact your county Extension office or local vet for a positive ID of the pest, and ask them what needs to be done to manage the pest. If you know someone who has used pest control services, ask them about the company, the type of pest problem they had, and how happy they were with the service. Do not depend ads or a sales pitch to judge a company's record. Before you call any pest control companies, there are a few things you should do: Know your rights: Know your rights A copy of the label of each pesticide that may be applied. The name of each pesticide that may be applied The intended application date. The name, business address, and telephone number of a person who can provide more info about the application. BEFORE the company applies a pesticide for you, they must inform you of your right to receive in writing: Know your rights: Know your rights The company's name, address, and telephone number. The applicator's name and license number The name and EPA registration number of each pesticide applied. The rate and amount of each pesticide applied. Where each pesticide was applied. The date and time of application. Any safety instructions to follow after the application. An offer to provide a free copy of the label of each pesticide applied. AFTER the company applies a pesticide, they must provide you with the following in writing: Ask questions before you choose a company: Ask questions before you choose a company How many years have you been in business at your present location? Check with your local Better Business Bureau or the State Attorney General's Office to find out if any complaints have been filed against the company. You can also ask what is the status of the complaints. Would you provide me with a list of references? Contact several references to find out if they are happy with the service provided by the company. To help in the selection of a pest control company, ask several companies the following questions: Ask questions before you choose a company: Ask questions before you choose a company If pesticides are needed in my home, will the person who applies them be certified or registered by the state? In order to apply pesticides commercially, a person must be a certified applicator or registered technician. Applicators become certified by taking a state exam. Ask to see the certification or registration. Does your company hold a membership in a professional pest control association? These groups promote continuing education and training in the pest control industry. Ask questions before you choose a company: Ask questions before you choose a company Would you give me a copy of your pest control license? Pest control companies are required to be licensed by the state. Would you give me a copy of your liability insurance certificate? In many states, companies must maintain insurance coverage at all times to protect you in case of an accident. Do you have workers compensation insurance? It is best to hire a company that does have this insurance. If one of their workers is hurt in your home, the insurance should protect you from being sued. Ask questions before you choose a company: Ask questions before you choose a company Would you give me a copy of all labels for pesticides that will be used? Pesticide labels tell how the product should be applied and the safety measures to be taken. You can also make sure the pesticide is legal by checking for an EPA registration number. How long will it take to solve my pest problem? Sometimes companies must return several times to do more work or to track results. If so, ask how often they will return. Reach a complete understanding with the company before work starts. Find out what the pest is, how the problem will be treated, how long the period of treatment will be, and what results can be expected. Ask questions before you choose a company: Ask questions before you choose a company Do you guarantee your work? Find out if the company will charge you to come back if the treatment fails to work. Make sure you know exactly what the guarantee covers and how long it lasts. Termites work is usually guaranteed for one to five years. Find out if there is a yearly inspection charge. Also, find out if the company is responsible for structural damage if the termite treatment fails. What are the terms of your service contract? Some pest control services offer contracts in which residences are routinely treated for a particular pest. In general, routine applications of pesticides are not a good idea unless there is a constant infestation by a pest and non-chemical methods have failed to control the pests. Cooperate with the company: Cooperate with the company If the company asks you to remove personal items from the floor or empty kitchen cabinets, make sure you have this done before they arrive. Do not allow children or pets into areas treated with pesticide sprays until the spray has dried. Aquariums should be removed from the treatment site or covered with heavy plastic and the air pump turned off. If the company suggests non-chemical methods of pest control in addition to the pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions. Good cooperation between the homeowner and the company will help eliminate pests and reduce the use of pesticides. Cooperate and follow instructions. For example: Report any problems or complaints: Report any problems or complaints Contact the company that made the application. If you think the company acted improperly, you can contact your state pesticide agency, the state Attorney's General Office, or the local Better Business Bureau. What if my landlord selects the pest control company?: What if my landlord selects the pest control company? If your landlord hires a company...