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Mom in old house - heat treatment?

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  1. Jozet

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 9 2013 22:03:04
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    My mom is 74 yo and lives in an old house built in 1930. Some of the floors are just the sub-flooring with wide open nooks to the floor below. She has a full walk-in attic and a full basement. Living area is about 1800 sq ft, not including basement or attic.

    A month ago, she said she was "seeing bugs." She also said she had a few bites.

    I asked her to show me the bugs. Some were just spots on the wall near where the dog sleeps, not bugs at all. Maybe blood spots. Other bugs were lint on her bed and on her feet (she was convinced the bugs were living in her shoes.)

    I didn't see any bugs or any sign of bugs anywhere.

    Finally, she calls pest control. He takes a look around the house, and tells her she has bedbugs. He says the only treatment he recommends is heat treatment of the two living areas (not basement or attic.)

    Here's my concern. First of all, my mother is a huge hoarder. There are rooms in her house we can't get into because they are so packed with stuff. Second, this is an old house with broken down walls, unfinished renovations, and huge cracks in the floorboards. I can see into the basement from some holes in the living room floor.

    From what I've read, heat treatment is going to be tricky. I can't see how they can possibly heat the house and not leave any "cold spots." Second, the PCO wants to start heating right away, even though some of the rooms are so packed with clutter.

    My question is can the heat penetrate that much clutter? Can heating only two floors make a difference if the attic and basement are left cold?

    When I spoke with the PCO, he was very defensive and said that we could try spraying, but in their opinion, heat was better.

    I asked about decluttering her main living areas and treating them for the time being. My mom literally only spends time in three rooms in her house.

    What should we do? Thanks for any advice.

  2. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 9 2013 22:47:42
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    I may not have understood but you did not find any bugs?

    They
    Are
    Out
    There
    = TAOT
  3. Jozet

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 9 2013 22:54:14
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    Whoops! Sorry about that part.

    I didn't find any bugs.

    My mom said the person who inspected found live bugs on the mattress. I wasn't there when he inspected.

    I don't think my mom saw bugs, either. She kept pointing to "bugs", but they were tiny pieces of lint. If the inspector did find bugs, he evidently didn't show my mom what they looked like.

  4. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 9 2013 23:18:15
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    If you look at the mattress, you should see Fecal. Read the faqs about searching. I'm not an expert but hopefully one will see your post.

  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 10 2013 1:45:24
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    Hi Jozet, I sent you a private message!
    Click here (or the link in the sidebar) to view your PMs:
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/pm.php

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  6. Jozet

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 10 2013 16:47:03
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    I'll be at her house on Sunday and I'll take a look.

    My main question though is that is there are bedbugs, will heat treatment work on an old, drafty house packed with clutter, especially if only two floors are being heated?

    Thanks!

  7. cilecto

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 10 2013 17:18:12
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    If the practitioner is ethical and competent, they should be able to advise you on what works and what you need to do. There are two main companies in the US licensing/franchising heat treatment; TempAir and Thermapure. There are also a lot of people who buy heaters and go into the treatment business.

    In most non-advanced infestations bed bugs will gather in or very near where the host sits or lies. A (non-expert) "gut-check" tells me that as this is a private house and mom only uses three rooms and bugs are either non-existent or "in mattress", find a PCO who is good, but will treat just the rooms where mom sits & sleeps. If this is your mom and you are likely to be responsible for her care, I'd consider this a "wake-up" and use this opportunity to find a (non-pest) professional who can organize homes.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  8. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 10 2013 17:58:23
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    There are professional organization (there is a national association but I can't find the name). In my old town, I had a friend who was a former social worker who did this. She was fantastic because she understood the emotional and not just the organizational issues with hoarding.

  9. Jozet

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 10 2013 18:11:27
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    Thanks. My mom is 74yo and very independent, living on her own, doing her own driving, wits about her, etc. Except for this one thing.

    It's been tricky for my siblings and I to get in her house to start removing things, and now she's completely mortified by the (alleged) bedbug problem, and doesn't want anyone to know.

    She's finally letting us help declutter, but it's going to be a long process.*sigh*

    I'll try to speak to the PCO again. They seem determined to use the heat treatment and keep turning us around from considering anything else. I'll also check their credentials.

    Thank you all so much!

  10. Jozet

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Apr 15 2013 0:51:59
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    UPDATE:

    My sister and I have been cleaning my mom's house. We almost have the bedroom decluttered.

    I took apart the bed and mattress/boxspring, and didn't see any signs of bedbugs. No stains, fecal spots, castings. The PCO said he just lifted the mattress and found 3 dead adult bugs. Hmmmm.

    My mom said she had one bite last night on her forehead, but I'm still wondering if shes' being scammed and the bite is something else.

    Again, whole house treatment seems a bit much at this point.

  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Apr 15 2013 1:10:32
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    I would not proceed with treatment unless YOU are shown visible signs (bed bugs, eggs, cast skins, fecal) and confirm these with someone who isn't trying to sell you something.

    (A camera or flatbed scanner means that can be an expert here.) Bed Bug Blue (see this FAQ) is a possibility for testing suspected fecal, though EffeCi and David Cain generally do an impressive job with potential fecal images here also.

    It's not that heat can't work well, generally, but I am wary of anyone doing a hard sell who seems to do only one method (not sure if that's the case here). And when there's so little (or no) evidence. It's not terribly unusual for shady pest techs with any kind of treatment modalities to tell people they have bed bugs when they don't.

    I don't know if a cluttered home can be successfully treated with heat. I'd be wary and want a second opinion and a warranty. However, if there were three bugs and he removed them all, then you don't need heat treatment.

    She might have fleas or it might be from dust mites or static or who knows. A flea trap (DIY flea trap plan in this FAQ), some passive bed bug monitors, and some careful detective work may help you rule this out or at least get proof. And then you can consider methods which are best suited, if the fears are confirmed.


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