Were termites the least of our problems?

Josh Sherman
7 min read

I’m definitely starting to think so at this point. If you’re not aware, last week our house was tented for termites and we took a mini vacation to New Orleans. What most don’t know is that this tenting was over a year in the making.

Let’s back it up to sometime last summer when we started to see live termites collecting in a light fixture. Having been through carpenter ant swarms in the house a few times while growing up, we called up Terminix the next day. One of our neighbor’s that recently had their house tented recommended a smaller company but my wife was sold on the fact that Terminix allegedly background checks their employees. Speaking of sold, I made the mistake of not being home for any of this (was completely bogged down with work and felt like the wife could handle it) and the bottom feeder of a sales person, John Cisneros, sold my wife on 2 treatment regiments for both subterranean and dry wood termites. Who am I to question? My expertise is in technology, not entymology.

Why do I consider John a bottom feeder? Well, a couple of reasons. First, I found out after the fact that he had never actually inspected our attic, which is an obvious red flag considering he sold us on an attic treatment. At this point, I had to assume that he faultily sold us on both treatment plans and played into our fear of getting the house tented by selling us on topical treatments. The next red flag was the fact that every single Terminix exployee that made it to our house after John got a really good laugh about him. You know, because he had been running this scam all around town.

Wait, why did you have to interact with Terminix at all after the treatments? Heh, funny story, see after we had the attic treated and God only knows what they did to treat outside, we started to have swarms of termites in the house. This actually became a regular occurrence over the last year. It wasn’t an every day thing, but it’s absolutely horrible when it happens, and it’s even worse after you shelled out $2600 to get rid of the bastards. After a year of spot treatments, retreatment of our attic (even after a supervisor inspected and found no signs of any previous or active activity) and even an additional rodent sanitation treatment in our attic (for free, further perpetuating to the fallacy of John) we finally connected with a new supervisor by the name of Gary Irvin. Gary was pretty no nosense and suggested we just get the place tented because that’s what we should have had done in the first place. The tenting would be on their dime (just the tenting) as any treatment moving forward is on them as long as we pay a yearly fee to keep the guarantee in place.

Turns out Gary was absolutely right, every one of our neighbors that has had termite issues in the last couple of years simply got their house tented and have not had any additional issues. I’m sure they got a huge kick out of how many times we had a Terminix truck in our yard). It’s definitely a major inconvenience but at the end of the day, if you are seeing termites in your house, you have an infestation somewhere. The big question right now is whether or not we should be suing for structural damages over the last year since Terminix guarantees against damages after they treat the house (that will most likely be another blog post in the future ;)

So fast forward to after having the house tented. We get home from New Orleans and all should be well and good, right? Couldn’t be further from the truth. The noxious gas used to treat for the termites (and everything else that was alive for that matter) contains capsaicin, you know, like in spicy peppers and pepper spray. Having an older home without many windows that open, the house absolutely did not air out as it should have. The first day back was pretty damn unbearable to the point that we tried to get a hotel room but we got back so late that we couldn’t find anything available. Pretty much cried ourselves to sleep since our eyes were watering so bad. I’m unsure how anyone thought the house was ready to enter 8 hours earlier in the day (it was inspected and cleared for re-entry). This resulted in us leaving our dogs at the puppy sitter’s for an additional day and a half (out of my pocket mind you).

So the house aired out over the next day or so but that actually ended up being the most minor of inconvenience. That same night we got back, our cable television and Internet service both went out. Then that next morning, People’s Gas came out to turn our as back on (another monetary burden to get it turned off and back on, weighing in at over 200% of my monthly gas bill!) and our tankless water heater seemingly fried. Why seemingly? Well there was a burnt smell coming from it, but it turns out it was just a blown fuse (thanks Curtis from Red Cap Plumbing, you’re a troubleshooting beast!) and another monetary hit. David from Verizon made it out later in the day, seems the power supply for our Fios was also fried. He suspects there was a power surge that took it out (older hardware, no grounding on the cord). Now that very well could be, but the power supply and the water heater actually weren’t hooked up at the same time, peculiar eh? Incidentally, everyone that had made it out for the maintenance all confirmed that they’ve seen or heard about issues like this post-tenting. Maybe it has something to do with residual gas in the walls or something like that. We’ll never know for sure, but it definitely destroyed our first full day back in town.

None of these issues even touch on the fact that my wife decided to pack up most of the house and take it up to my office instead of using the supplied bags to stow stuff. The fact is, the bags seem to work just fine and my wife was being 1 part OCD and 1 part paranoid (or 2 full parts of crazy).

One last point to touch on, I had mentioned that Terminix allegedly background checks their workers. That very well may be a true statement, but it obviously doesn’t fix the glitch of a greedy and/or lazy sales person. On top of that, we were advised that Terminix does outsource some of their tenting when they are overbooked to third party exterminators (we allegedly got actual Terminix staff). That obviously could lead to undesireable folks gaining access to your home that were not checked by Terminix. The last expense (thus far) has been to replace our locks. That’s my own paranoia after leaving my house unattended for the better part of the week.

To recap, termites were definitely a big problem for us, but they ended up being a minor inconvenience in comparison to the process of getting them exterminated over the last year. The biggest problem for me (if not obvious) was being erroneously sold services that we may or may not needed (jury’s still out on the subterranean termites as no one’s actually seen them O_o). I’ll take bugs over corrupt humans any day of the week.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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