How Much Does Fumigation Cost?
Fumigation can be unpleasant, but sometimes it’s necessary. How much does it cost to fumigate a house? Based on a number of factors, the cost to remove a pest infestation from a home runs between $1,500 and $8,000.
- The national average cost to fumigate a house is $4,750, though the exact price can fall within a typical range of $1,500 to $8,000.
- Among the factors affecting the total cost of fumigation are home size, home structure, infestation type and severity, and fumigation method and frequency.
- Fumigation may be necessary if a homeowner has drywood termites, wood-boring beetles, a widespread bed bug infestation, or previously failed pest control treatments.
- While a homeowner can attempt to DIY this project using a store-bought fogger bomb, only a professional pest control company can ensure that the project is undertaken safely and that the infestation is properly taken care of.
Discovering insects in a home is never a pleasant experience. Anyone who has unexpectedly come across a bug skittering across the floor is familiar with the silent “Oh, please, please don’t let there be more” that’s often offered up at that moment. A small invasion can be handled with some spray or traps, but discovering a nest, significant indication of damage, or the mother lode of bedbugs after waking up with a trail of bites indicates that it’s time to consider fumigation.
Fumigation is a process through which a home is sealed off, or tented, and filled with a chemical that reaches into all of the nooks and crannies of the home, even seeping into textiles and fabrics, to kill any insects where they’re hiding. During this time, the home will be uninhabitable, so residents will have to stay somewhere else. It’s also advisable to hire professionals to deep-clean the house after the fumigation is complete. Fumigation is one of the most expensive ways to remove pests and is usually reserved for fairly extreme cases. It’s a huge endeavor, but if enough insects are detected in the home, it has to be done. According to Angi, the average cost to fumigate a home will fall in the range of $1,500 to $8,000, with the national average fumigation costing $4,750.
Factors in Calculating Fumigation Cost
The average price range for fumigation is broad, but there are distinct reasons for that gap. Fumigation is used to clear out a number of different pests, and the type of pest and complexity of the infestation and the home itself can require different procedures and approaches, all of which can affect the total cost of the project. Understanding the components can make it easier to establish a reasonable cost estimate so residents know how to budget for the project.
Fumigation is a labor-intensive process, and it involves time: The house must be sealed or tented, food and perishables must be removed, and the chemicals must be delivered and allowed to sit for a period of time—and then everything must be undone. The size of the home directly affects the amount of material and time this process will take, so smaller homes are less expensive than larger ones. In general, it costs between $1 and $4 per square foot to fumigate a house, with a 2,000-square-foot home usually costing between $2,000 and $8,000 to fumigate. Fumigation tent cost runs higher than situations where tenting a house is unnecessary because of the physical labor involved with securing the space for protection.
Unfortunately, insects do not contain themselves to the main area of a home. They’re happy to burrow away in attics, crawlspaces, and garages as well. Decks and porches are also frequent dwellings for insects such as termites, who devour wood. There is no way to contain fumigation to one area of the home: In order for the treatment to be effective, all areas of the home—including attached decks and porches—must be treated with the fumigation chemicals to avoid the risk of re-infestation. The more complex the structure of the home is, the more expensive the fumigation will be, especially if technicians have to create access to closed-off areas that don’t have open airflow.
What kind of pests need to be eradicated? Termites are one. Because they can easily travel anywhere in the home that provides a food source, and because the damage they cause can be so catastrophic to the structural integrity of the home, termite fumigation is common. Bed bugs are another type of insect that sometimes requires fumigation, not because of the damage they cause or because of the dangers they pose but because of their resistance to other methods of removal. Bed bug fumigation cost is relatively high because of the volume of bed bugs that can be present in an infestation. Powder-post beetles also require fumigation experts; they lay their eggs in wood, and the damage is caused as the hatched larvae eat their way out; by the time they’re discovered, significant damage has already been done. Sometimes an infestation of cockroaches may need to be fumigated because of the health risks they present; cockroach fumigation cost is dependent on how intense the infestation is and whether or not the home shares walls with other units. Flea fumigation cost and ant fumigation cost tend to be lower than for other insects; because the insects are easier to kill and require less material, full fumigation may not be necessary. Each type of insect offers a different challenge to fumigators and requires a different length and volume of fumigation, so the cost of the project will vary based on the type of insect being removed. The following are some common infestation types and their fumigation price ranges:
|Infestation Type||Cost Range|
|Ants||$1,500 to $4,000|
|Bed bugs||$3,000 to $4,000|
|Cockroaches||$1,500 to $1,700|
|Fleas||$1,500 to $4,000|
|Spiders||$2,000 to $4,000|
|Termites||$2,000 to $8,000|
|Wood-boring beetles||$1,700 to $7,000|
In general, if a home is a candidate for fumigation, it’s because the infestation is fairly severe or other methods have already failed. Still, the more significant the infestation is, the more chemicals will be required and the longer the chemicals will have to remain in the home to complete the job. In addition, a severe infestation of termites or powder-post beetles can mean that there’s structural damage to the frame of the home, so additional safety measures may need to be taken to make sure that beams are supported prior to the fumigation to avoid danger of collapse. More severe infestations require more time, material, and caution, so the cost is appropriately higher than it is for less significant infestations.
Not all fumigants are the same. There are different methods of application depending on the type and location of the infestation. Fumigants are available in solid, liquid, and gas formulations. All of these can be toxic to humans and animals if used improperly, inhaled, or ingested. The processes involved in deploying the different methods (tenting and releasing gas, sprinkling powder or tablets for solids, and spraying liquids) affect the time and labor costs, as does the cost of the material itself.
Ideally, one thorough fumigation should be all that’s necessary, if proper measures are taken to control the pest population after the initial process. Particularly tenacious infestations may require a follow-up fumigation, and recurrent infestations can require regular treatment—and there’s no discount or reduced cost for subsequent applications, so the cost can mount quickly. Multiple treatments may be required in areas where a lot of grain or wood is stored, but less frequently in homes.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The fees for tenting, application, steeping, and takedown involved in a fumigation will be paid to the exterminator or fumigation professional. However, there are additional costs to consider, some of which aren’t optional.
Fumigation can be as quick as a couple of days or as long as a week or more, depending on the pest, the method of fumigation, and the severity of the infestation. During the fumigation, no humans or animals can be in the home. If family or friends aren’t able to provide a place to stay, homeowners will want to plan on hotel lodgings and meals for the duration of the process. Costs for this will vary based on location and the type of lodging, but they can be fairly significant.
Fumigants will seep into everything they touch, and the pests they kill will lie where they fall. Most people choose to have their home professionally deep-cleaned after the process is complete to remove dead insects and any chemical residue, which can be an irritant to skin and potentially lungs. Some people may choose to replace items like linens, pillows, fabric-covered furniture, or carpets if they’re especially concerned about chemical residue. This is another expense to account for when assessing the total house fumigation cost.
Ideally, pests will disappear after a fumigation, but insects are living things, and even a very effective fumigation can’t flawlessly reach every spot in the home. It’s possible—even likely—that some insects will survive. If an infestation has been severe enough to warrant fumigation, one of two things is true: The homeowner had a stroke of bad luck and brought a pest into the home inadvertently, or conditions exist that make the home attractive to pests. If the latter is the case, a professional fumigator can make recommendations about steps to take to reduce the likelihood of reinfestation, but it’s also wise to schedule a regular annual or semi-annual inspection. That way, any reinfestation can be caught before the severity gets out of hand and requires another full fumigation. Many pest control companies offer service contracts that include free inspections over a period of time after a treatment, which can save on the cost of annual maintenance as well. In some cases, annual fumigations may be required.
Types of Fumigation
The type of fumigation used in any given situation will depend on several factors. First, the location and severity of the infestation will be taken into consideration, and then the material from which the pests are to be removed will be assessed. The speed with which the fumigation needs to occur is also a factor.
Most effective at getting into recesses and cracks, along with settling through fabrics, gas fumigation fills the entire space with gaseous chemicals and then “steeps” for a time. Nearly all living things will die when exposed to the gases for a long period of time, so it’s critical that gas fumigation be used only in spaces that can be completely sealed off and that all plants, animals, and people be kept clear until the gas has dissipated. Gas fumigation can be used to control insects and rodents along with weeds and nematodes (roundworms). It is also sometimes used to control pests in warehouses storing tree nuts and cereal grains. Gas fumigation works quickly, but there are some environmental concerns about residue and escaped toxins, so while it’s effective, it’s important to make sure that it’s the last solution to the problem, not the first.
Tablets or powdered forms of solid fumigants can be sprinkled in and around areas where pests are located. Some solid fumigants function by killing insects in all stages, which makes them very effective because they kill existing and developing insects, while others, such as calcium cyanide, cause a chemical reaction only when mixed with water vapor to form a suspension that kills a wide range of pests. Solid fumigants are easier to use than gas fumigants, and in general they are safer and better for the environment, but they do pose dangers when inhaled.
Applied with a sprayer, liquid fumigants can be used to exterminate pests and mold. They work faster than solid fumigants, but they’re highly toxic, flammable, and volatile. Usually, large quantities of the liquid are sprayed onto the area where pests are present and then allowed to soak in, but because of their toxicity, they must be used only outdoors or in a sealed or tented environment.
Do I Need Fumigation?
Sometimes it’s obvious: A homeowner returns from a relaxing vacation, strolls into the kitchen and flips on the light, and sees a whole community of roaches scramble for the baseboard. Or a wood post that’s looked a little raggedy in the garage suddenly cracks and crumbles into pieces. Or a homeowner wakes up with a run of bites down the back of their leg—again. Other signs can be more subtle. Generally, homes that need fumigation have a pretty widespread infestation in progress, with the exception of termites—depending on where the termites are located, even a few might be enough to warrant an inspection and fumigation.
Presence of Drywood Termites
Small piles of what looks like sawdust on the windowsill. Windows that are suddenly swollen and hard to open. The occasional dead winged insect or “white ants” in the home. A scratchy sound in the walls. These are signs of drywood termites, and if these indications are present, an immediate inspection is necessary. Drywood termites cause disastrous damage to wood surfaces and structures, and the inspection cannot be delayed—even if affording the treatment is a problem. Termite inspection costs about $100 but will likely be folded into the cost of treatment. For small or localized infestation, termite treatment costs an average of $568. If the infestation is bad enough, there could be structural damage to the house that makes it unsafe. As a result, the problem must be dealt with by one of the best termite control companies immediately, and when a professional recommends fumigation for termites, there aren’t a lot of other options. Equally unfortunate? Homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover termite damage, the cost of termite fumigation, or repair costs.
Presence of Wood-Boring Beetles
Wood-boring beetles can cause damage similar to that of termites; they’re basically a different version of the same problem. They’re more common in warmer climates and, like termites, find a location they like, locate a food source, and then go to town on structural parts of the home. Because they live deep in the wood, fumigation is usually necessary to eradicate them.
Widespread Bed Bug Infestation
While termites and beetles cause significant damage, they’re reasonably easy to kill—which is why it’s so important to catch them early when spot treatments are still a possibility. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to find and kill. Unfortunately, by the time residents become aware of a bed bug problem, it’s usually too late for any attempt at containment or spot treatment. If bed bugs are discovered early—the resident notices a few bites immediately after returning home from a hotel vacation—bed bug treatment costs can be $200 to $300 per room for a spot treatment of areas that are likely affected. If, however, the resident has actually seen bed bugs on surfaces, in a bed, or on a couch, it’s likely that large-scale, immediate fumigation is necessary. Bed bugs lay lots of eggs, so treatment is required that kills not only the live bugs but also their eggs and their larvae.
Previously Failed Pest Control Treatments
Unless an infestation is very significant or very dangerous to the residents of the home, pest control specialists will usually try other methods of extermination before resorting to fumigation, simply because of the expense, inconvenience, and potential chemical exposure associated with it. Preventative measures such as sealed entry points, spot treatments, and other types of poison are all measures that a professional might take initially. However, if those treatments don’t work, pest control professionals will have to determine when the problem has become significant enough to warrant fumigation. When other measures have failed, fumigation becomes the only option.
Fumigation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Home improvement stores sell some types of “fogger bombs,” a kind of miniature or less potent gas fumigation cartridge that homeowners can use themselves. They’re generally sold by type of pest and by the size of the space that they can fill. Instructions are very specific as to how to seal the area, where to place the cartridge, and how to turn off fans and HVAC systems. In theory, it’s possible to purchase one of these canisters and attempt to DIY a fumigation, and that may be a good option in very specific circumstances, such as fumigating detached sheds or garages.
But before taking on this task, homeowners will want to remember one thing: Fumigation is allowing poisonous gas to permeate a home, from the couches to the mattresses to the recesses in the kitchen where the food and dishes are stored; for these reasons, it’s important that the person performing the fumigation really understands what they’re doing. The best pest control companies like Terminix and Orkin will be able to assess the size of the problem, the type of pest, the particulars of the home, and any unusual sensitivities that home’s residents may have to chemicals. Additionally, they’ll be able to provide appropriate sealing or tenting materials, gauge how long the chemicals need to remain in the air to correct the pest problem, advise the home’s residents on cleanup, and explain which items in the home are safe to use and when. The likelihood that a fumigation performed by a professional will be successful is much greater than one performed by someone who grabbed a can off the shelf at a hardware store. A failed DIY fumigation will mean that a second fumigation will need to occur, re-exposing the surfaces and fabrics in the home to more chemicals and causing further inconvenience and a significant expense.
While there are many situations where it’s a great idea to try a DIY method before calling in a pro, this isn’t one of them. If a pest infestation requires anything more than a can of bug spray to eradicate the issue, homeowners are advised to find a reputable, trustworthy pest control specialist to assess the problem and make appropriate recommendations for how to fumigate a house. Apartment dwellers will want to contact their landlord or property manager—shared walls and HVAC systems make fumigation masking or tenting far more challenging, and apartment fumigation cost is usually the responsibility of the landlord, not the tenant.
How to Save Money on Fumigation Cost
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of time to waste if a fumigation is necessary. There will be limited time to compare estimates, budget, plan ahead, look for coupons and discounts, or gather other information. The best trick for homeowners to save money on fumigation is to avoid the need for it in the first place by using strategies that reduce the likelihood of infestation and scheduling regular inspections. Most of the money-saving options below focus on getting the best possible treatment now to save money down the road.
- Get ahead of an infestation. If your home is older or located in an area that is prone to infestation, plan ahead by scheduling annual inspections so problems can be caught early.
- Get multiple quotes. Collect several estimates from reputable companies and compare. This can be tricky if different treatments are recommended, but having several estimates will help you find one that fits within your budget.
- Pick a method by its effectiveness rather than its price. Choose a treatment that seems most likely to really eradicate the problem, even if it’s more expensive. You’ll save money in the long run.
- Look for discounts. Ask about guarantees or discounts on follow-up inspections or repeat treatments.
- Schedule follow-up inspections. After fumigation, schedule regular inspections to reduce the chances of another emergency visit.
Questions to Ask About Fumigation
Homeowners likely have plenty of questions for companies they’re considering hiring to fumigate their home. Some will be the basics: Is the company licensed and insured? What kind of training do you provide? But there are some questions specific to fumigation that the homeowner will need answers to before selecting a pro.
- What kind of treatment do you recommend? Why?
- Is there a less invasive option that would be effective?
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you seen an infestation like this before? How did you treat that? Was it successful?
- How should we prepare for the fumigation?
- Do we need to contact cleaning services after the fumigation?
- When will it be safe to return home?
- Do you provide free follow-up inspections?
- What is the likelihood the pests will return? What should I do then?
- What resolution is available if I’m not happy with the work?
Discovering that fumigation is necessary is a rough experience for homeowners, compounded by the need for immediate decision-making while feeling itchy all over. These are some of the most common questions about fumigation and their answers to help homeowners feel secure in their decision.
Q. How long does it take to fumigate a house?
Fumigating an entire house can take anywhere from 2 days to a week or so, depending on the scope and type of infestation as well as the structure of the home.
Q. Do I need to clean my home after fumigation?
Yes, homeowners are highly advised to clean their home after fumigation. Even better, homeowners may consider hiring someone with experience in post-fumigation house cleaning. A professional will know what kinds of cleaners to use and how deeply different surfaces need to be cleansed; they will also prevent homeowners from seeing the scores of dead insects in their home, enabling them to sleep soundly in their room again.
Q. How long should I stay out of my house after fumigation?
Usually, a homeowner can return to their home about 3 days after the fumigation is complete, but it’s important to check with the fumigation professional to make sure; some chemicals may need longer to disperse and dissipate. Homeowners will want to leave time for a deep cleaning before they move back in.
Q. What are the side effects of fumigation?
Most damage caused to humans and animals by fumigation is a result of inhalation. Victims may experience a sense of nausea and dizziness, fatigue, and a neck rash. More significant exposure can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, headaches, and trouble breathing, while severe inhalation can lead to fluid-filled lungs, dizziness, and death. Mild symptoms will be relieved with fresh air, while more severe cases may require hospitalization.
Q. Do I have to wash the bedding after fumigation?
Theoretically, no, it’s not necessary for a homeowner to wash their bedding if a gas fumigation was performed. However, many people prefer to wash the bed linens and towels, and some prefer to replace them, not necessarily to eliminate any chemicals but to get a fresh start and make sure that any dead pests have been removed from the place where they rest their heads. Residents may choose to throw away their pillows and replace them with new ones if they feel squeamish.
Q. What can be left in the house during fumigation?
Food that is still in its original factory-sealed plastic or metal packaging can remain in place, as can furniture, linens, curtains, and electronics. Food in paper packaging needs to be sealed or secured in plastic or glass prior to the fumigation. Homeowners are advised to check with their fumigator for any additional restrictions based on the type of chemicals used.
Q. Can I sleep in my house after fumigation?
Homeowners will be able to sleep in their house about 72 hours after the fumigation is complete. It’s important that they follow the instructions provided by their fumigator to be on the safe side, but generally, the gas will dissipate within 3 days.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor