If you have a problem with unwanted pests in your home, and youve exhausted all the self-help remedies you know, you may be considering hiring a commercial pest control company to deal with the problem. Hiring a professional might be exactly the right solution for you; but you need to do your homework.
First, how do you locate a company? Checking the yellow pages of your local phone book might be a good start; doing a keyword search on the Internet for your area could also work, and you have the added benefit of seeing what information the company provides, on itself and on pest control generally. Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations
After youve developed a list of pest control services, and before you call these companies, start asking more questions of your friends and coworkers. Have any of them used these companies? What was their experience? Did the company in question solve their pest infestation issues? Were there any problems dealing with the company? Any problems in the home after the company performed their services?
Once youve narrowed down your list to a few potential providers, call them on the phone, and ask some more questions: does the company offer a free home evaluation and estimate of costs? Does it give you advice on what you can do to deal with the problem yourself? Is the company willing to answer questions readily?
Specific questions to ask: what kinds of chemicals are used? (If possible, have them provide written information on the chemicals.) What sorts of side effects or potential dangers do these chemicals have on family members, adults and children, and on pets? Do your family and household pets need to vacate the premises during the pest control treatment?
Make sure you ask whether the company offers nontoxic, natural pest control. The company should be willing to at least discuss the options; if its representative just dismisses the notion of nontoxic pest control without intelligently discussing the pros and cons of the natural remedies available, but just wants to get into your house and spray, beware!
With written information (or your own notes) in hand, do your own research on any chemicals that will be used - their effectiveness, their possible side effects, their potential toxicity. (The Internet is a great place to start for this.) If you have family members with serious health issues, particularly asthma or other respiratory ailments, make sure you know what the potential effect of sprayed compounds could have on them.
Finally, if you have any questions about the companys reliability, and you cant find anyone you know and whose judgment you trust to vouch for them, contact your local or state Better Business Bureau or Consumer Fraud Division, to find out whether there have been any complaints lodged against them.
Once youve hired a company, make sure you know who is going to
showing up at your home and when. Make sure they have proper I.D., and
ask if you can be there to supervise the process or if you have to
leave, and for how long. And while youve got access to the professional
treating your home, ask what you can do to avoid pest control problems
in the future, particularly those involving destructive
carpenter ants and termites. The guy (or gal) who actually
does the work probably has insights into the subject that the office
staff doesnt have.
Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire and frequently contributes to Tips and Topics. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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