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DIY Heat Treatment

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  1. InnerChaos

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sat Jul 31 2010 15:18:33
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    [Admin note: This is a bad plan and nobody should replicate it. Read below this message for more on why.]

    Now let me start off by saying that no one should try this unless they are fully aware of the fact that they can burn down their house or ruin some of the stuff inside. They say leave this up to the professionals, and I will say that too. This is just my story.

    We have been getting bit up by bed bugs for about a month. We tried to sleep in the living room, they followed. We had no where to sleep, which made me desperate to kill these things. After doing some research and finding out about the heat treatment, I decided to try it out myself. I am on a budget and don't have the money to pay for an exterminator to do the heat treatment. We have a friend of the family that is an exterminator that came over and told us we have bed bugs. He sprayed once through the whole house but we were still getting bit up.

    I found out that at 113 degrees, the heat kills all life cycles of bed bugs. Most places bring the temp. up to about 120-130 for a few hours. I figured I could do this myself seeing as its the middle of summer time. So I borrowed a kerosene heater, an electric heater, and 2 fans. I set them up in each room, making sure the kerosene heater was at least 4 feet away from everything. I cranked that heater up to full blast, turned on the fans pointing downwards since heat rises, and put the fans so they are blowing back and forth. I checked every 5-10 minutes to make sure the house wasn't catching on fire and I had an inexpensive "point and shoot" thermometer. Got the rooms up to around 130 degrees, making sure everywhere in the room was that hot not just by the heater. After about an hour or two I went to the next room.

    The bed rooms were pretty easy to get to that temp since they were smaller then other parts of the house. I had trouble with the living room though since the ceilings go all the way up to the second floor. I got it up to about 108 degrees in there.

    After I did all that, we've been able to sleep in our bedroom and not get bitten. One of the bigger bedrooms still had bed bugs when we tried to take a nap up there. One crawled right out.

    I must have gotten a lot of them with this technique though. We had the exterminator come back today and he couldn't find any bed bugs anywhere. We found one dead one on the box spring. The exterminator sprayed and left. Hopefully this is the end of these pests!

    Like I said, I wouldn't try this on your own unless you are aware of the fact that you could destroy everything you own. But I've done it and had somewhat success. Been able to sleep without getting bit since I did it. Worst comes to worst is definitely killed the eggs. I tried this after the bed bugs basically driving me crazy and waiting on the exterminator to come back all the while getting bit up. If you're on a budget and want to try this, keep a close eye on the room you are doing. Have a digital thermometer, one that you can point and get a reading is the best. Fans are the key! Since heat rises, the temp will be higher in the top of the room and by the heater. Fans move the hot are all around the room. I set a little fan up pointing under the bed to make sure the hot air got under there. I took temp. readings and made sure every part of the room was at least 113, but I went for 120 to be safe. Turn off all electronics! Electronics have a storage rating of 145 degrees. Do not go over 135 degrees to be safe! Wouldn't want to melt your television!

    Hopefully this will help out someone who is going as crazy as I am. I've had success with this method, but also had an exterminator come and make sure we didn't have an bed bugs still. If you have no place to sleep and just want to get a good nights sleep, turn that room into an oven! Make sure after you do this you don't bring any bugs back in there if you only do one room! And they can travel about 100ft, so I did all the rooms upstairs on the same floor. Be very careful! This can be done, but is risky if you do not keep a close watch on everything. Keep the doors to the room closed and put a towel by the crack so no heat can get out. Check often! It will be very hot in there so do not stay in the room for more then a few minutes. Just enough to go in, take some temp. readings, and get out. I kept a bucket of water nearby just in case but everything went perfect. Didn't damage anything in any of the rooms at all.

    113 degrees is the target. If you've tried and tried and are going nuts, you can try to roast them! Try and get it up to the temp. as quick as possible. If it's a large room you might want to try 2 kerosene heaters. kerosene heaters heat up an area very fast! The problem with electric is that it won't heat up fast enough and if you use more then one of them it will probably trip the breaker. I had this problem using 2 electric heaters so I just used one and set it on fan to blow the heat around the room. Good luck! Just sharing my story. Not saying this is something you should do, but I have done it. So I just wanted to let everyone know it is possible.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sat Jul 31 2010 21:09:30
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    This is a bad plan and nobody should replicate it.

    First of all, there are reasons professionals raise the temperature of the entire structure at once -- they do not do one room at a time, as you did. They also do not aim for 113 F because they know that the core temperatures of every item in the home and the structure itself must reach the killing temperatures. That necessitates going much higher.

    It's my understanding that heating one room at a time allows bed bugs to migrate from one room to another. Heat applied unevenly or too slowly can also cause bed bugs to migrate deeper into the structure and hide out until it's all over.

    The method you use could burn down your home and belongings ( which you seem to acknowledge). I am glad you did not do so. However, this does not mean that what you did is safe or that anyone else should try it.

    Perhaps even more significantly, you admit that your home still has bed bugs. (A sign they may have migrated from room to room, or that they may have dug deep into the structure to ride out the heat, both things that are not supposed to happen if an experienced, knowledgeable professional conducts heat treatment.)

    You cannot say that you successfully treated your bed bug infestation this way. I am not sure how long ago you conducted this "treatment," but it is probably too soon to know exactly how many bed bugs survived.

    I plead with everyone not to try and replicate what is basically a dangerous and failed experiment. I know how awful bed bugs are. But this really is not a good idea.

    Finally, please note that there are plans on the internet for creating a thermal chamber to treat possessions. These methods were developed by University of Florida researchers to eliminate bed bugs in the furniture and belongings in student dorm rooms.

    Someone with the know-how and correct equipment may be able to follow them safely and de-bug furniture and belongings in a controlled manner. It does not, however, offer a method of treating a home. Your home would still need to be treated with sprays or other methods.

    You can read about the University of Florida methods in this Bed Bug Manual (see "Economical, Localized Heat Treatment for Control of Bed Bugs infestations" in the Table of Contents). (If you want to find this again, it's now in the Resources page.)

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sat Aug 28 2010 15:30:55
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    user253 - 1 hour ago  » 
    I have to reply to this. First of all this a DIY forum. People should not discourage these ideas. The people discouraging are most likely in the business and dont like competition.

    Sorry, but you're wrong.

    First, this site is not a "DIY Forum". It's a forum about bed bugs. Yes, some people need to self-treat their bed bug problems. It's not recommended. If you must do it, there are safe ways, ways which work, dangerous ways, and ways that don't work..

    I want to stress that I am not in "the business", don't provide heat treatments (or any other kind). I'd rather you self-treat in a safe manner than in an unsafe way which is likely to backfire and not get rid of the problem.

    I reiterate my point above: self-administration of heat treatments is a fire hazard and can also make bed bug problems worse.

  4. Desertguru

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Sun Jun 26 2016 10:03:48
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    I know that I am necro'ng this thread but in my defense it was a top result in a google search for "DIY heat treatment for bedbugs"

    As an engineer who has done a lot of work with fire suppression in very hot climates I simply don't see a significant fire hazard in this post assuming all the items are used correctly and as stated. Before I go any further please let me note that there is an inherent fire hazard with any combustible heat source, this includes gas stoves, water heaters and furnaces. It also includes car engines, fire places and just about anything else that uses a fire anywhere in it. However, the heat from a kerosene heater will not be as significant as the heat from a fireplace (yes kerosene burns hotter than wood but the mass of wood will simply put out more heat).

    Since kerosene heaters used safely are no more a fire hazard than a fireplace, you must be talking about the temperature of the room. A little education goes a long way and you should certainly remove any aerosol cans, hand sanitizers and other alcohol based products from your room. However, we just had a professional heat treatment done on a facility and they removed none of those things. I wouldn't suggest going above 140° but to put things into perspective the average temperature in July in Kuwait City is 115°, in Phoenix is 107° and in Las Vegas 105°, in all of these cities the temperature of an enclosed structure without phase change cooling will regularly exceed 140°. The truck that hand sanitizer is shipped to Las Vegas in is almost certainly higher than you are talking about heating your home. In Kuwait City many of the locals leave for the summer and turn their air off, and even in glass and steel high rises where the temperature can soar they don't come home to find their possessions in ashes.

    His suggestion may well not work (although that is arguable, as I feel certain I could engineer a plan to heat adjacent rooms simultaneously and methodically to eradicate bed bugs for a fraction of the cost of professional treatment) but the idea that using a heating method that has been safely and effectively used millions of times is a fire hazard is a lot like saying you shouldn't drive your car because eventually you could drive it off a bridge.

    Edit: Asphyxiation is a far more pressing concern using kerosene heaters than fire. So ventilate properly.

  5. BigDummy

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Sun Jun 26 2016 14:30:45
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    Brilliant analogy, but you forgot any mention of Hitler.

    Bird dreams are not admissible in court.
  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Mon Jun 27 2016 2:27:19
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    Desertguru - 16 hours ago  » 
    His suggestion may well not work (although that is arguable, as I feel certain I could engineer a plan to heat adjacent rooms simultaneously and methodically to eradicate bed bugs for a fraction of the cost of professional treatment) but the idea that using a heating method that has been safely and effectively used millions of times is a fire hazard is a lot like saying you shouldn't drive your car because eventually you could drive it off a bridge.

    Leaving aside the issue of danger (which, I note, the OP was very concerned about), the OP mentioned the bed bug problem survived this DIY treatment, so it sounds like it really did not work.

    Can someone who's an engineer that works with heat create a plan that would work? I never claimed this couldn't be done. However, DIY heat treatment is a lot tricker than most people are probably equipped for.

  7. Helplessstudent

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Fri Jul 1 2016 13:16:56
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    Nobugsonme - 4 days ago  » 

    Desertguru - 16 hours ago  » 
    His suggestion may well not work (although that is arguable, as I feel certain I could engineer a plan to heat adjacent rooms simultaneously and methodically to eradicate bed bugs for a fraction of the cost of professional treatment) but the idea that using a heating method that has been safely and effectively used millions of times is a fire hazard is a lot like saying you shouldn't drive your car because eventually you could drive it off a bridge.

    Leaving aside the issue of danger (which, I note, the OP was very concerned about), the OP mentioned the bed bug problem survived this DIY treatment, so it sounds like it really did not work.
    Can someone who's an engineer that works with heat create a plan that would work? I never claimed this couldn't be done. However, DIY heat treatment is a lot tricker than most people are probably equipped for.

    My dear host, will open the windows frequently help reduce the amount of bed bugs? Thanks.

  8. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Sun Jul 3 2016 1:44:52
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    No. Opening the windows isn't likely to help at all.


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