Equipment: Selection, Use & Maintenance

Cover Story: Annual Termite Control Issue - Cover Story: Annual Termite Control Issue

Termite equipment maintenance is critical for pest management companies. Some maintenance is relatively simple and can be performed by the technician. Other maintenance requires more skill and time and the proper tools and location.

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February 4, 2021

Stoy Hedges

When it comes to termite equipment, the number of choices has expanded rapidly in the past several years. Using the right equipment for your termite job can mean the difference between a profitable job and working at a loss.

Regularly clean termite rod and tip threads and tighten tips to prevent damage and loss.
Andrew Greess

This article will cover the selection, use and maintenance of termite equipment.

SELECTION. Since labor is the largest cost for most pest and termite companies (source: NPMA Business Operating Ratio Study), productivity is absolutely critical.

Termite jobs are generally labor- intensive, so having the right tools is critical. Saving money on the wrong tool is not helpful. This means you need to select tools that enable you and your technicians to get the job done:

  • Faster
  • Better
  • And with fewer/no callbacks

Select termite equipment with an eye towards reducing downtime. Equipment that is not available not only isn’t making you money, it costs you money because your staff is not fully productive.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting termite equipment:

Right tool for the job. When it comes to termite equipment, size does matter.

Let’s use the example of a job that requires termiticide foam:

  • If you don’t normally perform termite work, but you have a good pest control client that you want to help out, a couple of cans of termiticide foam might do the trick.
  • If you do an occasional termite foaming job, then a 1-gallon manual termite foamer will probably suffice.
  • If you regularly do small termite jobs, then a 1-gallon electric-powered foamer might be justified.
  • If you do termite work every day, then a larger cart-based foamer will save you time.
  • We have one client that does termite foaming all day, every day, with a 25-gallon, truck-mounted electric foamer. You can make the same case for other equipment as well.

Hammer drill. Do you need to drill 10 holes ($200 home store drill) or 1,000 holes ($1,000 high-end industrial hammer drill). The diameter of the holes can also affect the size of the drill required. Here’s a public service announcement — protect yourself by plugging your termite drill into an interrupter so you are not paying for expensive plumbing repairs.

Termite power spray rig. Occasional residential post-treatments need 25 or 50 gallons with a small electric pump. Regular large pretreats need a 200- or 500-gallon (or larger) tank with a large gas- powered pump.

BUY QUALITY. Spend a little extra to get quality equipment that will do a great job and last. See the example above right. This customer wanted to save money on his pretreat rod so he would just hammer down the end of an aluminum tube. The chemical he wasted on the bad pattern meant he was stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

Choose good design. In order to make sure your termite jobs are productive and profitable, your equipment must be:

  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable for technician
  • Access to key parts (e.g, clean the filter)
  • Easy to clean out
  • Easy to maintain

Standardize equipment. If you don’t standardize what everyone’s using, it’s more complicated for your technicians to use, almost impossible to maintain and you will likely end up with a closet full of junk.

Availability of replacement parts. Make sure replacement parts are readily available. If not, in the best case you are down waiting on parts. In the worst case, you have a throwaway piece of equipment.

Availability of options. Options can increase the usefulness of your tools. For example, consider termite injection equipment with multiple rods or tips; quick disconnects on power sprayers to support multiple termite tools and guns; and having multiple tips available on hand sprayers and foamers for a variety of situations.

A PMP thought he was saving money making his own pretreat wand. Chemical waste from a poor spray pattern far exceeds the cost of doing it right.
Andrew Greess

EQUIPMENT USE. Proper use of termite equipment is critical. On a pest control job, if your power sprayer is down, you can use your backpack. If your backpack is down, you can use your 1-gallon hand sprayer, etc. On a termite job, you don’t have this flexibility or these options. If your equipment is down, you are done for the day. Here are some tips for good daily use of your termite equipment.

Secure it. Before you drive off, do a quick check of everything in your vehicle. Is equipment secure so that it won’t come loose or get damaged if you have to hit the brakes? Our termite equipment repair shop sees a lot of damage from exactly this problem. Remember to secure sensitive equipment, like meters, in padded cases to prevent theft and damage.

Proper use. Misuse and abuse of equipment costs lots of companies lots of money. A lot of damage is completely avoidable. Make sure your employees know how to use equipment correctly and are doing so.

Pressure issues. On spray equipment, pressure issues may reduce equipment life. Here are two things to remember:

  • Don’t over pressurize your equipment.
  • Release the pressure when you are done with the job. (This will also help reduce freeze damage in colder climates.)

Assign equipment to one person. Individual responsibility extends equipment life. If everyone is in charge, no one is responsible and equipment quickly becomes useless junk. Want proof? Which do you treat better: Your personal vehicle or your rental car?

Report problems. Make sure employees are encouraged to report equipment problems. Problems always get worse. Bigger problems cost more and take longer to fix. It leaks, it doesn’t hold pressure, it doesn’t spray right, it doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t feel right, etc., then report it.

Keep training. Just because you trained on day one, doesn’t mean it is still being done the way you want it done. Train and retrain on proper equipment use.

Trust but verify. Inspect vehicles and equipment to identify and prevent problems and training opportunities.

MAINTENANCE. Termite equipment maintenance is critical for all the reasons previously identified. Some maintenance is relatively simple and can be performed by the technician. Other maintenance requires more skill and time and the proper tools and location.

Maintenance that is the technician’s responsibility: Technicians can do easy stuff like checking filters, cleaning out tanks, cleaning and replacing tips, calibration, etc. Carrying maintenance items in the vehicle, like an extra termite rod tip, will help prevent downtime.

Maintenance that is management’s responsibility. Preventive maintenance saves money and downtime. Perform maintenance before or after your busy season so your termite jobs are not impacted.

Proper selection, use and maintenance of your termite equipment will ensure profitable jobs, happy customers and employees who can focus on their work rather than worrying about equipment.

Andrew Greess is a pest control equipment expert and president of equipment website Qspray.com. Contact him at Andrew@Qspray.com.