Protect your home from wood destroying pests
Termites and other wood destroying pests and organisms cost us billions of dollars each year. Left unchecked, they can systematically destroy your home. If your home hasn't been inspected in the last two years it could be at risk. Contact us now to schedule a home inspection or free quote!
Subterannean termite shelter tube on a foundation wall
Evidence of dampwood termite damage and fecal pellets
Welcome to Hall Brothers
Established in 1985, Hall Brothers Termite Control is a family owned and operated company based out of Novato in Marin County. Now in our 35th year, we continue to deliver honest easy-to-read inspection reports and wood destroying pest extermination. Our inspections will provide you with the information you need to complete real estate transactions, identify any pests or organisms which might threaten your home, and give you the peace of mind that a professional team is watching over the structural integrity of your dwelling. We also perform the industry latest and safest pest extermination procedures to ensure that your home will be protected for a long time to come. We specialize in the following services...
Fumigation of any size structure for drywood termites, wood destroying beetles
Localized treatments for drywood termites and wood destroying beetles
Treatments for subterranean termites and dampwood termites
Carpenter ant extermination
Carpenter bee extermination
Wood destroying fungus treatments
Moisture barrier installation
Sump pump installation
Inspection reports for residential & commercial structures
Do you have a termite infestation?
It can be hard to tell if you have termites as they sometimes are located in places that you don't normally check, including your substructure and attic. However, there are certain tell-tale signs of infestation that you can look for inside of your home...
Subterranean Termites: These termites need to travel back and forth between the ground and their food source (the wood members of your home). Because of this, they build tunnels known to many as "mud tubes" or "shelter tubes". These tubes protect them from open air and allow them to live in a space that has the moisture content necessary for survival. Many times we see these tubes on foundations, behind shelves in a garage, behind refrigerators, even at the ceiling. If you find these tubes in your home there is a good chance you have an active infestation. Subterranean termites are killed by performing a soil treatment as that is where they originate. We use non-repellent termiticide, which means the termites will travel through the treated soil without detecting it and spread the chemical to other termites as they feed and groom them. This is how the colony is wiped out.
Drywood Termites: Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don't require moisture to survive. They attack dry, sound wood and don't need contact with the ground to survive. The most obvious sign to look for is the dry fecal pellets that they expel from their "kick holes," small holes that they boar into the wood to expel their droppings. These dry pellets will often accumulate in a pile below the kick hole enabling the home owner or inspector to identify them. We offer localized treatments for drywood termites using foam termiticide or a topical coating of the wood members, but the best way to ensure exterminating the entire infestation is by fumigation. The fumigation process can be necessary as there can be several colonies attacking a home or structure, sometimes from different areas that are inaccessible for treatment. We provide free estimates for fumigation on houses with drywood termite infestation.
Dampwood Termites: These termites prefer wood that has a high moisture content or is decaying. They leave a series of chambers or galleries in the wood they are infesting that have a smooth appearance, as if it has been sandpapered. Many times they will seal portions of their galleries with their fecal matter which can have a moist, clumpy appearance. Inspection of wood members that are subject to moisture around your home will help determine if there is an infestation. We treat dampwood termites using termiticide and by replacing any damaged materials. We also remove any earth to wood contacts as this can be conducive to termite infestation. The best way to prevent a dampwood termite infestation is to correct excessive moisture conditions such as leaking toilets or other plumbing leaks.
Closeup image of drywood termite pellets (notice the concave sides)
Is it an ant or a termite?
The first sign of termites that many people see is commonly called a swarming termite. Termite swarmers are a sign of a colony reaching maturity and swarming occurs when new reproductive members are trying to pair up in order to create new colonies. We get lots of calls from people who see these swarmers and are worried that they may have an infestation. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between a termite swarmer and a flying ant. Because of that, the drawing below will help you to identify if they are indeed termites or flying ants. The main ways that you can tell them apart are that a termite swarmer has a broad waste while a flying ant is pinched in the waist. The antennae on a termite are straight whereas they are elbowed on a flying ant. Also, the wings on a termite are all the same size and shape whereas they are not on a flying ant. Of course, we are more than happy to come out and identify them for you so please feel free to give us a call!
Carpenter ant frass (similar appearance to sawdust)
Beetle exit holes
Wood destroying fungus on the
Carpenter bee and exit hole
Other wood destroying pests and organisms
Along with termites, there are other wood destroying pests to look out for...
Carpenter Ants: Everyone has had an ant problem at one time or another, but some people aren't aware that there is a kind of ant that can actually damage your home in addition to being a nuisance! Unlike termites, carpenter ants don't eat wood, they simply chew through it making tunnels and room to nest. They can make their way into a structure in numerous ways, including power lines and tree branches that are touching a structure. We use a safe and effective ant bait system to exterminate carpenter ant colonies.
Wood Destroying Beetles: Beetles can do major damage to a structure if left unchecked. They bore through the wood and leave exit holes in the surface. They leave behind a powder that is very fine, similar to the consistency of a ladies' face powder. Beetles can be treated using Bora-Care at the areas of infestation. As with drywood termites, in cases of large scale infestation, fumigation is the best and only way to ensure 100% extermination. You can find more information about fumigation by scrolling down to the next section.
Carpenter Bees: Similar in appearance to bumble bees, carpenter bees like to nest in wood members. We often see them nesting in fascia boards and arbors. They create tunnels in which to nest and leave holes that are about 1/2" in diameter. They can create tunnels as long as 4 feet in order to lay their eggs. We exterminate them by using an expanding foam insecticide that reaches deep into their galleries. After treatment we plug their exit holes.
Wood Destroying Fungus: This particular fungus can be a problem you would never know about unless you crawled under your house. It is caused when the moisture content of the wood exceeds 20 to 30 percent and when the temperature is optimal (32 to 90 degrees.) To kill fungus, we scrape it down and treat the affected area with Tim-bor which is a registered termiticide and fungicide. In order to prevent this damaging fungus from forming we also offer moisture control solutions such as substructure moisture barrier installation and the installation of substructure sump pumps to prevent standing water under your home.
Should you fumigate?
There are good reasons why the primary recommendation for a drywood termite or beetle infestation is always to tarp and fumigate. The most important reason is that fumigation is a safe and 100% effective method of eliminating all of the target pests in a structure.
While a localized treatment of drywood termites or beetles can also be effective, the infestation many times extends into inaccessible areas that may be difficult to reach. Fumigation is an all-encompassing treatment in which the gas permeates the entire structure, eradicating both known infestations and ones that are unseen.
Even though fumigation is an incredibly effective control method, some people are understandably hesitant about the process. Is it really safe? The short answer is yes. Fumigation is highly regulated by the State of California. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation registers all fumigants used in the State and oversees local pesticide use enforcement by agricultural commissioners in each of the State’s 58 counties.
Before a fumigation is performed, simple instructions are sent to the homeowner so that they can prepare their house for fumigation. This would include removing any pets (including fish) or plants from the home along with medicines, feed, and food that is not sealed in metal, glass or highly resistant containers. A technician goes through the entire structure making sure that everything is prepared for the fumigation process. After the tarps are draped over the structure and sealed, a warning agent is introduced to make sure it is clear. Vikane gas is then introduced to the structure in the exact amount that is needed to eliminate the target pests. During fumigation, warning signs are posted on all sides of the structure and gas levels are monitored to ensure success.
The fumigation process will take 3 to 5 days depending on the target pest (3 days for drywoods and 5 days for beetles.) At the end of this period, the house is then aerated according to the manufacturer's instructions and the tarps are removed. A technician tests the entire structure to make sure that it is completely clear of even trace amounts of fumigant. When the whole structure is deemed safe for entry, a notice is posted showing that the house is clear. Occupants can then enter the structure without worry as no residue or odor is left behind on any surface. The only difference is that the structure is now 100% clear of the target pest.