Fume Cube offers low-cost on-site commodity fumigation, packaged with inspection and treatment

by nobugsonme on November 14, 2010 · 22 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs in condos and coops, cincinnati, florida, new jersey, new york city, ohio, vikane

Traditionally, Vikane gas (sulfuryl fluoride) has been used in two ways in the war against bed bugs: to treat a full structure (from a single-family house to a massive hotel), or to treat belongings and furniture in an enclosed space, otherwise known as commodity fumigation. It can be used to treat all kinds of belongings including electronics, vinyl records, art objects, computers, musical instruments, and so on, without leaving a residue on the items.

Commodity fumigation is often used by people who are moving (to avoid moving bed bugs to the new home). And in many cases, it is employed on the contents of an apartment while the structure itself is treated with traditional sprays, dusts, steam, etc.

Using existing services, a consumer typically has to independently arrange for the commodity fumigation, a moving service with a truck (to get items to and from the fumigator), a pest control firm to treat the home (if resident is not moving), and (in many cases) a canine scent detection team.

A new service from Bed Bug Fumigation Specialists is designed to be more affordable and more practical than off-site fumigation.

Gary Geiger, founder and CEO of Bed Bug Fumigation Specialists (BBFS), has now developed the Fume Cube (SM, patent pending) for on-site fumigation, an idea which will be be unveiled to 800 building managers at the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC) Housing Conference today (11/14). The Fume Cube sits on a building’s roof or in the courtyard behind the building, so that belongings and furniture do not need to be moved off-site for fumigation.

I spoke to Gary about the package the firm is offering. It will bring together the following features:

  • On-site, year-round commodity fumigation in the Fume Cube, currently performed by one of seven licensed and experienced fumigators (each with 1000+ fumigations under their belt);
  • Canine scent detection to screen the building, identify harborages in the residence, clear the treated contents after they have been gassed with Vikane, and to again search the unit 30 days after treatment (note: we are told that all BBFS canine handlers attempt to visually verify dog alerts, as we strongly recommend in Bedbugger.com’s  FAQ about canine scent detection);
  • Treatment of infested units by PCOs, with retreatment after 7 days;
  • Movers who have received 6 hours of training by BBFS in how to deal with infested items (optional, if residents can’t or do not want to move their own contents to the Fume Cube);
  • Contractor to do repairs and caulking (to minimize spread of bed bugs within the building) and painting (optional);
  • 90 day warranty.

The fumigation structure is leased to the building; the prototype is 8’x12′ with an 8′ ceiling, but larger and smaller sizes are an option.  An 8’x12′ Fume Cube would hold the contents of a 1000 square foot apartment.  Heaters keep the chamber in the 70-80 F range, allowing for year-round treatment.

This set-up may be especially appealing to building owners and cooperative and condominium managers aiming to detect and get rid of bed bugs in all infested units.  The Fume Cube can even be used to treat the belongings of anyone newly moving into a building, to prevent infestations.

Ideally, multi-unit buildings should be inspected and treated as a whole, but as we know, this is a hard sell in many cases.  If individual consumers approach BBFS about this service, the firm will then contact the building manager, ideally arranging to search the whole building and bring the Fume Cube on-site.  If the management does not allow for this, individuals may still arrange for treatment and to have their belongings fumigated off-site by BBFS (at a higher cost).

This service may also appeal to those who operate stores, shelters, libraries, and other locations where infestations are detected.

The cost for treating a single apartment with a few bedrooms in New York City is $1575, which includes Vikane fumigation of an 8’x12′ Fume Cube, pest control treatment of the unit, the canine inspection and follow-up inspection, and the 90-day warranty.  (Movers, caulking, and other extras are not included.)

The Fume Cube service is available in New York City, New Jersey (and much of the northeast), Washington D.C., Cincinnati, Indiana, and Florida.  It will be available in Chicago next year.

1 Ci Lecto November 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

I believe that all this publicity is beginning to pay off. People are starting to use their heads creatively. Hallelujah!

2 MaryAnn November 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

It is a wonderful idea, but still way out of reach financially, for someone like me,who is 63 yrs old and living on a fixed income in a small apartment.
Landlord refuses to even accept that there is a bed bug problem, so I vacuum and launder every single day, and pray one day I can get my life back.

3 Seth Bedell November 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Thanks Ci Lecto!

MaryAnn – Very sorry to hear about your difficult situation. We can certainly empathize with your problem. We would be happy (for a limited time) to install a Fume Cube at a reduced rate. Maybe your landlord can contact us at 877-9NO-ITCH and we can discuss your options. Thanks and good luck!
Seth Bedell

4 Ci Lecto November 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm

@Seth. Is Gary Geiger connected in any way to the Geigers in roofing on the Upper East Side? (if yes, did the “rooftop perspective” inspire this approach?

@MaryAnn. I understand your dismay. Perhaps for you, this approach might not benefit you directly, but in the long run, I believe that it will. Buildings whose managers care about this (coops, condos and higher-end rentals) will likely find this to be an attractive and practical option. This will redefine what’s practical and ecpected in the BB treatment arena, ultimately putting pressure on the middle and low end to “step up their game”. The investors will make money, encouraging others to enter the market with their solutions, ultimately making better tools accessible to more people.

5 CarpathianPeasant November 14, 2010 at 5:34 pm

A MAJOR, MAJOR problem solved in there: movers to move you stuff.

My former landlord apparently had no problem with handing out instruction sheets to the likes of people in wheelchairs or hauling oxygen tanks telling them to do things like tip over your dresser and check the bottom. “Tip.” You didn’t have to turn it over, just “tip” it over. And, no “church volunteer” were going to get involved.

I have no proof, but I’d be money some older folks died as a result of the extra exertion involved.

6 CarpathianPeasant November 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Since I can’t edit my message, make that first line above read:

A MAJOR, MAJOR problem solved in there: movers to move your stuff.

(I’m so excited! Maybe I can dare to buy some real furniture.)

7 nobugsonme November 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Hi Carpathian,

The problem you describe is very common, unfortunately. The Fume Cube package does not include movers at no extra cost, so it will probably remain a problem for those on a fixed income even if the landlord does move with this sort of plan.

8 nobugsonme November 14, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hi MaryAnn,

Unfortunately, the situation you describe does not seem to be uncommon.

In areas where they’re required by law to treat for bed bugs, landlords need to learn more about bed bugs, and their detection and treatment, and to take on board the idea that bed bug problems will only get worse and more expensive for them to deal with if they do not address them properly.

I agree with Cilecto’s comments below– more options like the one BBFS offers are good in the long run, even if you can’t take advantage of them yourself, because they offer competition — both in terms of cost, and in terms of the quality/thoroughness of treatment.

I realize that does not help your situation, though. I hope you and your neighbors may be able to find a way to get the landlord to work on this issue. If you want some ideas and suggestions for organizing or for drawing attention to the situation there, please email me: nobugs at bedbugger dot com or post on our forums: http://bedbugger.com/forum

9 Seth Bedell November 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

@Ci Lecto – no relation to Geiger’s roofing in the U.E.S. The revelation came from Gary Geiger’s experience fumigating (literally) tens of thousands of single family homes. He realized NYC and area dwellings are too large for full building fumigation (which requires “tenting”) and the difficulties associated with off-property fumigations, and The Fume Cube was born.

This solution allows fast, discreet, on-property reaction to an infestation of personal property – which is where 80-90% of bedbugs and their eggs are found. Coupling Fume Cube fumigation (which has a 100% eradication rate of live bugs AND eggs when properly administered) with in-unit pest control and regular follow-up detection will help curb this growing issue and give NYC residents who have a Fume Cube on their building peace of mind. Thanks!

10 Seth Bedell November 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

@nobugsonme – while the published Fume Cube rates do not include the moving of the furniture (although we do have low hourly negotiated rates with a mover trained in handling infested property) we are happy to provide instruction to residents wanting to safely move their own items to the Fume Cube. At least the Fume Cube allows this “friends and family” moving option which is currently not available with other fumigation plans.

We are working hard to contain costs as we realize the price barrier is one of the hurdles impeding the eradication of these hearty insects.

11 CarpathianPeasant November 15, 2010 at 12:21 am

Personally speaking, I don’t “bleat” very well, so I have no friends or family. I do have some choice enemies, a few of whom might even think to seed some bed bugs at the door.

Since it cost $50 (and maybe some state interference) for maintenance to move a couch (sleeper sofa) 125 feet down the hall to the elevators and out the door (figure 150 feet), which breaks down to about 33 cents per linoleum square to dump a $1,000 piece of furniture, I can assure you the primary need is for muscle not money.

There’s always the option of getting a peddler’s license from the city and standing on a street corner with a tin cup and pencils…as long as the weather is good enough.

12 Lou Sorkin November 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

I presented a bed bug lecture (along with Ray Lopez (on IPM for the homeowner) and Howard Schechter, an attorney (tenant laws & regulations), at the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC Inc.) on Sunday and the Fume Cube People were there, so I picked up the information about the unit and spoke to them at their booth. Unfortunately I was not able to see Gary at that time, had to go over to the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show at the Javit’s Center to participate in a presentation and panel discussion (about 7 people from various disciplines) on bed bugs for the hospitality people. At least more people understand now that bed bugs aren’t always reddish brown insects that are restricted to beds.

13 bed bug pest control November 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm

the landlord problem is a great debate when it comes to bed bugs. It is very hard to tell if the bed bugs have been brought in by current/ previous tenants or the landlord themselves.
Often it is the case where previous tenants are to blame, but try getting money of previous tenants for bed bug fumigation once they have left- it’s not going to happen.
Landlords are reluctant to pay as they are 1. un-educated on the subject and 2. the feel that it is not their liability unlick perhaps a squirrel or wasp problem.

unfortunately the only thing you can do is vacuum regularly and get a professional to spray the place!

14 Josh November 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Is $1575 for a 3 bedroom, a realistic price for a service that requires so much?

15 Seth Bedell November 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

@Lou Sorkin. Was good to meet you at the show. Hopefully the Fume Cube will provide the city with another tool to assist in bedbug eradication.

@bed bug pest control. You have hit on one of the big debate points discussed on Sunday. We recommend anyone relocating to a new residence have their new apartment checked by a dog and sprayed for bedbugs PRIOR to move-in.

Also, since ALL your belongings are being moved into a truck, it is the perfect time to have everything fumigated before being moved in to the new unit. This way you know the unit is free of bedbugs before moving in (and if it isn’t you clearly have a case to require the landlord exterminate before you take possession) and, you know for a fact your belongings are clean because you have fumigated them before moving. From there, the debate continues……

@ Josh – the $1575 price includes one fumigation of the 8 x 12 Fume Cube, one treatment from a pest control operator and one follow-up K-9 detection to ensure the bugs have been eradicated.

Additional fumigations are administered at $1195/fumigation. If all 3 bedrooms are infested, you may need 2 fumigations. If the bugs are only found in one bedroom, you can likely fumigate the effected items in one 8 x 12 Fume Cube. It all depends on how bad the infestation has spread and the volume of items that require treatment.

16 parakeets November 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm

The name is great. I love to see creative entrepreneurs come up with solutions that landlords and tenants in multi-unit housing can use. However I’d wonder if clients ask that the words “bed bug” be covered up on the cube–I can’t tell you how secretive people are about bed bug treatment, at least here in New England. Shhh! They just don’t want anything that shouts “we have bed bugs.” I also realize–since my buidling has bed bugs in the crown and cove molding, and in the ceiling light fixtures and electrical outlets and conduits–that treating possessions in the cube is not as effective as a total fumigation of a unit. I know you treat the empty unit with non-fumigation methods, but I’d love fumigation to get inside those cracks and crevices where the harbourages are. I do like Fume Cube for people moving their furniture into a building but someone coming back from a trip, or someone whose college student is returning after the semester, could also bring bed bugs in, and it just comes back to….after nifty treatment plans like Fume Cube, how do those of us who live in multi-family housing permanently keep our buildings bed bug free without 100% disclosure, education, and cooperation of all tenants, 100% of the time.

17 Seth Bedell November 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

@parakeets. Thanks for the compliment, Gary will be happy to hear your feedback.

When the cube is installed on-location, it does not necessarily carry the label – the box is plain white, black, tan or silver and can be painted.

When installed, the Fume Cube is meant to be discreet and does not mean the building HAS bedbugs, but rather, IF there is a need, there is an IMMEDIATE on premise solution with standardized pricing. It reduces cost and is there IF you need it. It is the keystone tool in multi-unit building infestation control plan.

As far as multi-unit housing goes, the only way to eradicate the problem is to use all the tools you have to your advantage.

1) Get advice and treatment from the right source. Sadly, there are tales of unscrupulous handlers and pest control operators taking advantage of tormented victims. If you don’t have a solid recommendation from someone who has successfully treated an infestation, do some research.
2) 80-90% of the bugs harbor in personal belongings/furniture. If you fumigate you WILL eradicate. Fumigating the entire structure by sealing or tenting is optimal, commodity fumigation (Fume Cube/Truck/Storage Container) is second to tenting.
3) While belongings are being fumigated, utilize steam/heat/pesticide within the unit. Methodology is case-by-case depending on infestation & the building’s structural details.
4) Follow fumigation with trained K-9 detection to ensure bugs have been eradicated.
5) Caulk and seal all perimeter terminations to block access from adjoining units. Older buildings especially. Basically, eliminate tiny “doorways” from room-to-room.
6) Schedule regular (quarterly) pest control and K-9 inspections to identify/eradicate and early stage infestations.
7) Most importantly, make a plan for the BUILDING, not just individual units. Treat it on the whole.

The Fume Cube is the knockout punch coupled with the other “jabs” in a building-wide management plan.

Your first point is really the most important in that people, especially neighbors, need to understand bedbugs do not discriminate so the “blame game” is a slippery slope.

You may travel to the most exclusive resort and carry a bedbug home. It could be picked-up in a cab the subway or a limo, on the stock exchange floor or in your best friends apartment. It is akin to getting a mosquito bite… Do people look down on someone who has been bitten by a mosquito? No, because we’ve all been bitten!

The stigma of having bedbugs accelerates the problem because folks lock their door and hide (and allow the infestation to advance) rather than immediately nip the problem in the bud.

Until people work together and treat the threat as a building, rather than a unit problem, the bedbug infestation frequency numbers are likely to continue their rise.

Hopefully a little “love thy neighbor” will prevail before the bedbugs do become as common as mosquito’s.

I have real sympathy for those suffering with bedbug infestations, it is wrongly embarrassing and mentally exhausting.

18 nobugsonme November 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm

@ Josh – the $1575 price includes one fumigation of the 8 x 12 Fume Cube, one treatment from a pest control operator and one follow-up K-9 detection to ensure the bugs have been eradicated.

Hi Seth,

I understood from my recent conversation with Gary that a 7-day follow-up re-treatment of the unit was also included in the $1575 price quoted.

19 Last Exit November 27, 2010 at 12:36 am

DO NOT treat any location without confirmation of bed bug activity. I dont get it. Waste of time and hard earned money. A reputable and well trained tech will inspect and honestly tell you whether service is needed.

20 nobugsonme November 27, 2010 at 1:45 am

Last Exit,

I’m not sure who you were addressing — I think everyone here is in agreement that you should only treat if you have confirmed bed bugs are present.

21 Seth Bedell November 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm

@Last Exit raises an important point – in that there are reports of K-9 “detection” even when bed bugs may not be present.

There can be a conflict of interest if an exterminator doubles as the dog handler… If they find no bed bugs, they can’t sell extermination services… You get the point.

Of course, we are morally opposed to these practices and hope the poor behavior by a few shady characters doesn’t poison the pool for the rest of us operating in the best interest of our clients.

That said, we have a very simple rule at Bed Bug Fumigators and the Fume Cube – K-9’s are good for LEADING you to the problem – but, there must be VISIBLE evidence of infestation before we are willing to contract a fumigation. If we don’t see the tell-tale signs of bed bugs, things like secretions, blood-stains or bugs themselves, then we DO NOT recommend treatment.

Sadly, the heightened state of awareness and fear has lead to some unsuspecting folks falling prey to costly misdirection.

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