Ask These 11 Questions Before Hiring an Exterminator

An exterminator spraying plants around a house.

When bugs take over, it's time to call the exterminator. Whether you're dealing with an infestation or you've simply seen a few creepy crawlies around your home, you want them gone and you want them gone yesterday! But your exterminator shouldn't be chosen at random. Pests carry disease and can cause some serious damage to your home and property while exterminators can also cost a pretty penny. Whoever you hire should know what they're doing to get the job done right and safely. Here are some questions you should ask your exterminator before hiring them.

How long have you been in business?

When a business has been around for a while, it means they have experience. A well-established business has a track record and proof of their service's quality. That doesn't mean you shouldn't even consider a newer company—everyone has to start somewhere—but an exterminator that's been in business for a while might help put your mind at ease.

Do you have references or any testimonials?

If they have a good track record, they should be able to give you references from past clients. At the very least, they should have some testimonials or online reviews you can check out as proof of their services.

Are you insured?

An exterminator and client with a contract.

Exterminators should be insured. Their insurance should cover damages and accidents that might happen while they're working in your home. This is a safety measure for your belongings, but it's also important to know if the exterminator who will be working in your home also has coverage. If they should happen to get injured while on your property, you'll be happy to know they have medical insurance.

Are your exterminators licensed?

Exterminators spray toxic chemicals around your home. Some of these chemicals can be dangerous, so you will want to know that the person doing it is licensed. If the pest control company can't give you an answer and provide you with a copy of their certification, you should reconsider hiring them.

Do you offer a quote in writing?

Any time you hire someone to do work in your home, they'll likely give you a quote on how much it could cost. Often, these quotes are just estimates and a lot of services can quickly increase in price as things change once they get to work. Unfortunately, some companies will give you a lower quote in order to gain your business, only to charge you much more once the job's complete. These companies are looking to make money, and can find ways to add on extra fees as they work. This is why it's a good idea to ask if they offer a quote in writing and if that price is firm.

What is your treatment approach and how will it be decided?

An exterminator working in a house.

Your exterminator should be able to tell you in detail exactly what they plan to do to get rid of your pest problem. They should be able to explain how they will use pesticides, and what kinds they'll use. Then, they should be able to explain which areas of your home will be treated and how they will be treated. That way, you know what to expect. When you ask them how they decide which treatment approach to use, their answer should prove how knowledgeable they are in that area. Remember to take notes as they explain it to you and don't be afraid to do your own research to see if their suggestions sound accurate.

What specific pesticides will you use?

The exterminator you interview should be able to tell you which pesticides they plan to use, as well as the hazards associated with them. If you request it, they should also be able to provide a Material Safety Data Sheet on each of the pesticides they plan to use in and around your house. Some of these pesticides can be pretty harmful, so you should want to know what they plan to put inside your home where you and your family live.

Will this treatment get rid of pests and keep them away?

Ideally, you'll not only want the living pests to be taken care of, but you'll also want to make sure that preventative measures are taken to keep pests from coming back. Most exterminators should have a plan to ensure pests don't come back. That might mean the exterminators need to come back more than once, or will be able to offer a program or advice for you. Find out their plan of action.

Will we need to leave the house? (And for how long?)

A house covered in a fumigation tent.

Depending on the chemicals they need to use, you might be able to remain inside your house during the treatment. However, some chemicals might need some time to settle or dry before it's safe to return home. If you do need to leave the house for any period of time, you need to know when and for how long. That way you can make arrangements to be somewhere else.

Do you offer a guarantee and what does that include?

Most exterminators are very successful when it comes to pest control. Most can ensure that your bug problem will be completed within 60 days, but what if those 60 days are up and you still have a pest problem? It's a good idea to know whether or not they offer a money-back guarantee before you decide to hire them.

Are your pesticides safe for pets?

Many pesticides are safe for both people and pets, but you should know for certain. If you have any pets, especially exotic pets like birds and reptiles which many be more sensitive than cats or dogs, ask the exterminator if it's safe for them. The exterminator should be able to not only say whether or not it's safe for your pets, but why they're safe or not. Then, they should be able to give you clear instructions on whether or not to remove them from the home and for how long.