What is fume prep?If a house or other building is going to be fumigated for drywood termites (not subterranean termites), certain things must be done for the tent to go on and to effectively seal the structure.  We call that “fume prep” work or “fumigation prep” work. It is sometimes included in the cost of the fumigation, and sometimes not – so if this work is being done at your property, be sure to ask if it’s part of the bid!  If it’s not included, there are companies that can be hired to do these jobs if you do not want to or cannot do them yourself. (If you need one in Silicon Valley, please email me and I can give you a name or two.)

Anything which obstructs being able to enclose the home or building must be cut back, disconnected or removed.  For instance:

  • fences or gates which touch the building must have a few slats or sections removed so the tent can be placed next to the house
  • bushes, hedges, trees and other plants which are adjacent to the house must be trimmed back or pulled away as much as possible – at least 12″ from the structure (if trees are touching it, they must be trimmed)
  • any other structure such as a trellis or deck must either be included with the fumigation or separated from the house so that a tent can go between it and the house
  • downspouts connected to French drains must be disconnected at the ground
  • loose gravel, tanbark or mulch needs to be raked back or removed at least 12″
  • any stored items up against the building must be removed

Other items which make it hard for the fumigation to happen need to be removed, such as an aerial or antenna on the roof or an awning on the side of the home., a chimney cap, or weather vane.  Solar panels must be drained.

When everything else is done, it’s important to soak the soil around the building (the perimeter) so that it’s really wet going down about 4″ and out from the house or other building about 12″.  The damp soil helps to create a seal so that the fume is effective.

Please note, this list may not include everything required for your specific building!  Your fumigation contractor should provide you a comprehensive list both of what is needed for the fume prep and also what is needed inside the home (food removal, for instance), by way of utilities, accessibility & keys etc..  There’s a lot of paperwork that you will be asked to sign when you hire a fumigator, but don’t just skim and sign: read and make sure you understand everything so that there are no surprises!


Related reading:

Choosing a home inspector in Silicon Valley

How often should you get a termite inspection?

Choosing a termite company (on my Live in Los Gatos blog)