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Important variables in structural fumigation include condition of the tarpaulins, quality of the ground seal, wind, the volume of the project and the type of underseal. Using a Fumiscope to monitor half-life time adds a measure of certainty, and use of a Remote Data Acquisition (RDA) Fumiscope allows for frequent and easier monitoring.
“The nice thing about using an RDA is that it scientifically confirms adequate exposure to eliminate the termites,” says Lee Whitmore, owner of Quality Pest Services, Inc. (QPS), Anaheim, California. “With an RDA you can monitor the job every hour on the hour without having to stay on-site or make extra and unnecessary trips. I think RDAs are fabulous.”
QPS considers remote monitoring important on higher-end residential properties, on large or unusual properties and for sensitive accounts. It’s also useful where a higher rate is used, such as powderpost beetle fumigations, and bedbug jobs where there is potential for residents to bring them back into the structure.
Beachfront properties are another good fit for an RDA. Over the Memorial Day weekend, QPS used an RDA to monitor a 300,000 cubic foot fumigation of the two-story Huntington Harbor Bay Club in Huntington Beach, California. The high-value property is in a prime vacation area and undergoing renovation by new owners. Wind is a consideration on any beachfront property, Whitmore says, and experience has shown that anytime they are sealing on sand, half-loss times are going to be less. This property had a slab foundation, he notes, but the tarpaulins had to be sealed on the sand around approximately 50 percent of the perimeter.
An RDA only takes one person about an extra 10 minutes to install, Whitmore says. The self-contained unit has its own modem and antenna. It uses one fresh air intake line and four lines for taking readings. QPS crews place one monitor line low on the ground floor, two lines distanced as far apart as possible on extreme sides of the building and one line high on the roof where it would quickly detect a blowout. Readings are normally taken every hour. A report can be printed out for the termite company or property owner.
On the beach property fumigation, Whitmore says the RDA showed a half-life loss of about 20 hours, slightly higher than normal for that size property, but still within the expected range given the wind and soft sand on the beach.
“What is important is that the RDA confirmed elimination of the drywood termites,” he says. “We take a terminal reading with a Fumiscope on every fumigation, but with an RDA you can log in on your laptop from any location, so there is no need to visit the job site in the middle of night to take a reading.”
Remote monitoring can be a service differentiator in the sales process, especially on high-value properties, says Travis Swope, president of Griffin Pest Management in Santa Ana, California. Griffin sold the Huntington Harbor Bay Club fumigation and subcontracted the fumigation to QPS.
“The Huntington Harbor Bay Club is a large and complicated job and labor-intensive,” Swope says. “For us there is no room for failure. We know fumigation works, and with remote monitoring we are able to say to the client here’s how we know the job was done right. We sold the job, so if there is a problem, they call me. I’m the one that makes sure they are satisfied.”
Swope says time is a consideration for many commercial fumigations where the business does not want to be shut down. Remote monitoring helps ensure that there is no need for a second fumigation because something did not go as planned.
“Everyone likes to know that a fumigation did what it was supposed to do,” Whitmore agrees. “As the fumigator, I’d rather know right away if there is a possible problem, rather than having to deal with questions or a complaint later. To me, an RDA adds a quality control aspect of our service offering.”
RDAs have been available for about 10 years and are most commonly used on commodity fumigations. However, their value is gaining recognition as a valuable tool by fumigators and termite companies. RDAs can be rented or purchased from Cardinal or Univar.
“The cost and setup time in using an RDA is insignificant in comparison to the benefit of ensuring efficacy on these larger, more costly and more visible projects,” Whitmore says. “An RDA can pay for itself in terms of fumigant savings alone. And they add a positive quality control aspect to a company’s reputation.”