The most common question people ask the fumigator before they fumigate their homes to get rid of termites –
How Long Should You Stay Out Of House After Fumigation?
The answer is 24-72 hours.
You’d need to stay out of your home for 24 to 72 hours after fumigation.
The exact time to return depends on many factors that we’ll reveal later in the post.
But this post is not only about that.
In fact, this is an in-depth guide that provides you a 12-point checklist of dos and don’ts that you must follow before termite tenting.
And the best part?
You’ll get to know the strategies that will keep you, your children, family, and pets safe during the entire fumigation process.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
What Is Termite Fumigation?
Termite fumigation is the process of “gassing” your home to kill the drywood termites hidden deep inside your home’s structural wood and walls.
During the fumigation process, the termite controller will cover your home with a huge tent.
Once your home the tent covers your home, the fumigator will use a poisonous gas to kill the termites.
Fumigators cover your home with a tent so that the poisonous gas doesn’t get out of your home.
The gas spreads at all corners of your home and kills the termites.
That’s why the process is also known as termite tenting.
Why Do You Need Termite Fumigation?
When drywood termite infestation gets severe, drywood termites not only inflict damage to your furniture.
They also damage the floor, walls, and even the structural wood of your home, including the joists and posts.
When infestation runs deep, drywood termites will infest the most inaccessible corners of your home.
It becomes impossible to treat these drywood termites manually with pesticide spray because the termite controller cannot reach them.
That’s why you need termite fumigation.
It’s the last resort to rescue your home from irreparable damages that drywood termites can cause.
How Does Termite Fumigation Work?
When the termite controller covers your home with a tent, he releases a poisonous gas.
The name of the gas is Sulfuryl Fluoride, also known as Vikane, that penetrates the walls and the structural wood of your home to kill the termites.
It’s an odorless and colorless gas. Sulfuryl Fluoride doesn’t leave any residue behind.
But the toxicity levels remain for a few days after fumigation.
That’s the reason termite controllers say that it’s safe to return your home 24-72 hours after fumigation.
Does Termite Fumigation Work?
Of all the termite treatments, it’s only the termite fumigation that kills 100% of termites infesting your home.
But it’s the last resort to use.
Termite controllers advise termite fumigation when the infestation level is high, or termites consistently come back after repeated treatments.
The thing to keep in mind is that termite fumigation is specifically for drywood termites.
Fumigation is not for subterranean termites. But it’ll also kill any subterranean termites infesting your home.
Subterranean termites invade homes from underground, whereas drywood termites invade homes by flying in swarms.
Soil treatment might be necessary to eliminate subterranean termites as the Vikane gas can’t penetrate the soil.
How Long Does Termite Tenting Last?
Termite tenting, or the fumigation process, takes three days to finish for a house with an average living space of 2000-2600 sq ft.
If the house is big, it can take up to a week for the process to complete.
Remember, the period of 24-72 hours that you would need to return to your home is after the fumigation process.
So, the actual time you’ll be out of your home is the time needed to fumigate your house, plus the waiting period of 24-72 hours.
Many factors play a role in the time required to fumigate a home.
These factors are the home’s size, the dosage of gas needed, level of infestation, furniture in-home, and the number of wooden posts or joists.
How To Prepare Your House For Fumigation?
Before you hand over your home to the fumigator, you need to prepare it for fumigation.
In this section, you’ll find out what to remove from your home during tenting for termites.
Here’s the 12-point checklist to evacuate your home before fumigation.
1. Make Accommodation Arrangements For You, Your Family, And Pets
Undoubtedly, you’ll need a different place to live for at least 3-4 days till your home is ready to move in.
Arrange a place to stay and to keep the items that you’d take with you.
2. Schedule Gas Service Cancellation And Resumption
You don’t want to have your gas service running during the fumigation process.
So, schedule both cancellation and resumption of gas service at least 48 hours before the day of fumigation.
In some states, you’d need to intimate your utility provider three to five days before fumigation.
3. Cancel Or Reschedule Any Mails Or Postal Deliveries You’re About To Receive
Fumigators aren’t responsible for accepting your mail deliveries on your behalf.
It’d be best if you cancel or reschedule any mails or parcels that you’re about to receive during the fumigation days.
4. Pack Food, Consumables Etc. In Nylofume Bags
Your fumigator will provide you with Nylofume bags to pack things like food products, consumables, medicines, etc.
You don’t have to put everything in your home in the Nylofume bags.
Here’s the list of probable items that you can keep –
- Medicines, pills, supplements, tobacco products.
- Pet food.
- Canned foods like spices, dry fruits, etc. that are not sealed or not in airtight jars.
- Grains, cereals, cookies, chips, pasta, bread, and other items packed in plastic, paper, cardboard boxes, even if you haven’t opened them.
- Anything in resaleable containers such as milk, butter, cream, and cheese.
- Eggs, fruits, vegetables, and any other kind of perishable eatables.
- Any other edible stuff NOT in sealed glass, plastic, airtight jars, or cans or NOT in the manufacturer’s original airtight seal packets.
- Unsealed alcohol bottles.
Make sure to double pack the stuff that you put in the Nylofume bags.
Double packing means once the things are inside a bag, put that bag in a more oversized bag.
Then use duct tape to seal the bag from the top.
The fumigator will advise you what to put in the Nylofume bags depending on the things that you’ve in your home.
Things that you can skip bagging in the Nylofume bags are –
- Any edible products, including spices and grains, are in the manufacturer’s original seal tight packets or jars.
- Dental hygiene products, including toothpaste.
- Shampoos, soaps, toilet cleaners, and detergents.
- Cosmetics, including lipsticks.
- All lotions or ointments that you can apply externally on your body.
- Water and ice cubes.
You also don’t need to bag fabric, utensils, clothing, and dishes as the gas will dissipate from them after fumigation.
It’d be best if you do not purchase any extra food items.
The lesser the food items you have, the lesser you’d need to pack.
5. Evacuate Any Indoor Plants And Pets
It’d be harmful to your indoor plants and pets if you don’t remove them.
If you leave them inside, then chances are they might die.
It’s because Vikane gas is poisonous.
If you’re an aquarium or terrarium, then consult the fumigator on securing them and the pet inside them.
You may also want to contact an expert pet relocator to do the job for you.
Take away any flowerpots near the home’s outdoor walls.
Keeping them close to the home’s outdoor walls will create problems in covering your home with the tent.
Also, if any tree branches are touching the roof of your home, cut them off.
It’ll make space for the tent to cover your entire home adequately.
6. Water The Soil Up To 18 Inches From The Outer Walls Of Your Home
Watering the soil will protect the shrubs and plants near the outer walls of your home.
It’d be best if you do it the day before fumigation.
7. Turn Off And Unplug Electrical Appliances
It includes heaters, ACs, computers, coffee makers, oven, refrigerator, television, dryers, washing machines, sprinkler systems, and automatic timers.
Make sure you’ve unplugged them from the electrical outlet before leaving home.
Keeping them plugged in may increase the risk of fire caused by sparks from the electrical outlets.
DO NOT turn off the electric supply of your home.
Fumigators will use fans to propel the gas in all corners of your home during the gassing process.
8. Open All The Doors And Windows Inside Your Home
It’ll allow the gas to circulate in your home.
Also, if there are any blinders, drapes, and curtains, take them off.
Keeping them on might obstruct the gas flow.
Also, open all the kitchen cabinet doors, drawers, closets, wardrobe, laundry room, and storage room.
If there’s a basement, then leave the basement door open. And leave the drawers in the basement furniture open too.
9. Remove Any Valuables Or Expensive Items Inside Your Home
Fumigators are not responsible for any theft or vandalism that may occur in your home during the fumigation process.
So, take along with you all the valuables and expensive items like watches, jewelry, clothing, etc.
10. Secure All The Exterior Doors And The Main Entry Door Of Your Home
By law, you’d need to lock all the exterior doors and the main entry door of your home.
Fumigators will use an additional locking device, known as secondary locks, to secure any exterior doors that don’t have any locks.
11. Remove Any Satellite Dishes, Antennae, Security Cameras On The Roof
To make the fumigation process effective, fumigators use heavy tarps.
During tenting, roof-mounted items can get damaged.
So, either remove them or consult with the fumigator if you need to remove them.
12. Handover The Home Keys To The Fumigator
The fumigator will need access to all the rooms of your home for a successful fumigation process.
To ease your worry, take photos of the items in your home that you can’t take with you.
You’ll have a record of what was in your home before you left.
What Is The Role Of The Fumigator To Ensure Your And Your Family’s Safety?
A licensed professional fumigator will do the four things –
- He’ll put up a notice on your home that the fumigation is going on to deter anyone from entering your home.
- He’ll secure the exterior doors, which don’t have door locks, with a secondary door lock.
- He’ll open all panels, doors, drawers, trunks, and vaults to ensure the fumigant gas quickly dissipates from your home.
- The fumigator will test the air quality of your home before he allows you to enter. He’ll test if your home’s air quality meets the US EPA requirement, which is one ppm or less in all areas of your home.
Returning Home After Fumigation – What To Do?
Once you get the go-ahead from the fumigator to enter your home, there are specific steps to follow before you settle into your termite-free home.
Open Any Windows Or Doors And Turn The Fans On For 20 Minutes
You’d need to do this after the fumigator removed the tent.
It’d help aerate your home and will push away any excess gas inside your home.
Don’t forget to open doors and windows of places like a garage and basement.
Clean Your House To Get Rid Of Any Waste
Some termite fumigators also clean your house before they wrap up the tent.
But if they don’t, then deep clean your house thoroughly.
It’d be best if you hire a professional deep cleaner to clean your house after fumigation.
The reason is that there must be dead termites now inside your home.
And if you don’t remove them entirely, the dead termites might attract ants.
You don’t want that to happen.
Vacuum Your Home To Get Rid Of The Dead Termites
If you decide to clean your home by yourself, then begin with vacuuming.
But before that, remove all rugs and carpets so that you can vacuum all the gaps on the floor.
Vacuum clean your home slowly, and cover all the corners to remove all the dead termites and other bugs.
Ask the fumigator which areas or wooden structures of your home termites have infested.
Those areas might be the place where you’ll find a lot of dead termites.
Vacuum clean those areas thoroughly, including places like drawers, closets, and kitchen cabinets, to eliminate all the dead termites.
Also, wash or dry clean your floor furnishings before you put them back on the floor.
Wipe Clean Hard Surfaces Like Dining Tables, Countertops, With A Disinfectant
Spray some disinfectant on hard surfaces and wipe them off with a damp cloth.
It would help if you also mop your floor with a mixture of water and disinfectant.
Do not use bleach to clean anything because bleach can cause damages to your furniture and floor.
Restore Gas Supply To Your Home
Check if the gas supply is on.
It must be on if you’d informed the date of restoration of gas supply to your utility company.
Assess The Damages Termites Caused To Your Home
The fumigator would give you a report that will reveal the extent of damages termites did to your home.
Discuss with the fumigator how severe the damage is.
Drywood termites can make the structural wood of the home hollow. It can cause the roof and the floor to sag.
The wooden joists and the posts inside the home could also become weak because of termites.
If the damage is severe, it would be dangerous to move into your home before repairing the damages.
You may have to wait a few more days to return your home till you’ve repaired all the damages caused by termites.
Unpack Your Things From Nylofume Bags
Once the cleaning is over, then take your stuff out from the nylofume bags.
Put them back to where they were.
Do You Need To Wash Every Fabric Including Clothing After Fumigation?
No, you don’t have to.
Fumigant gas dissipates fast. It doesn’t leave any odor or residue on the fabric.
You don’t even need to wash your bedding and soft furnishings.
What Are The Side Effects Of Termite Fumigation?
There can be some side effects of fumigation.
Some people may face mild nausea, headache, vomiting, chest pain, diarrhea, and a bit of difficulty in breathing.
Though it’s unlikely that you’ll face these side effects, but if you do, visit your physician asap.
Do You Need To Fumigate Your Home Against Termites Often?
No, you don’t need to fumigate your home against termites often.
But termites can come back after treatment. Their return depends on many factors that are, at times, beyond your control.
That’s why savvy homeowners always book a quarterly pest control to keep a tab on their homes’ overall health.
Termite fumigation done once can easily last for four years.
But it’s always a wise decision to inspect your home for termites at least once a year to protect from future termite invasion.
Termite tenting or termite fumigation is the process of gassing your home to get rid of drywood termites from your home.
You’d have to stay away from your home 24-72 hours after termite tenting.
The exact time to return to your home depends on many factors like the house’s size, the severity of termite infestation, and the overall damage termites caused to your home.
In this post, you got to know all the steps you’d need to take before and after fumigation.
We’ve also detailed the safety measures that you must take before you return home.
To know more about how drywood termites invade your home, you can check out our post here.
If you want to know more about sulfuryl fluoride then you can check it on national pesticide information center.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.