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Steam as Part of PCO Treatment Plan--Needed or Not

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  1. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 17:58:21
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    My landlord's PCO will be coming tomorrow to inspect my unit to make sure that the infestation is actually bed bugs. Of course, I think that's pretty unnecessary (the confirmation) since I've captured several of them, which seems to me like a very bad sign. On the other hand, I am anxious to get the chance to ask the PCO questions and have him or her take a good look around and see what the situation really is.

    At any rate, I won't be sure until then what specific chemicals/substances the PCO intends to use. I have a list of questions read to go: What work do I need to do to prepare the apartment for treatment? What specific treatments will you be using? What does each substance do? Where specifically is each substance applied? What can I do to support treatment? When should we schedule the next treatment?

    I'm also curious. I've read a lot about the use of steam. My landlord seems to think that for $159 per unit the exterminator likely will not be treating with steam.

    For those of you who've been through this before, I have two questions: first, is there anything else not on the list above that I should ask the PCO? And if the PCO does not treat with steam at all, does that mean that the treatment is less likely to be effective or does it all depend on the particulars of the infestation?

    The only other PCO my landlord called quoted her $500 per unit. She and I both suspected that that meant that the $159 did not involve steam, so we're trying to figure out, since money is tight all around, what the best approach is.

  2. bedbugvictimperthaustralia

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 19:19:45
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    In Australia most PCOs don't bother to steam, or have a steam contractor come in separately. A proper job costs about $1300USD. I feel sorry for you because I think you'll get disappointed when:
    - A guy (dressed in overalls) comes to your house with a can of general pesticide.
    - He sees a bug and sprays the corners of the bedroom and all over your bed (yuck!)
    - He tells you to wash your clothes on hot and leaves.

    He ignores:
    - That bed bugs need special pesticides.
    - That it's unhealthy to spray on the top of the bed, only the base is ok.
    - That the bed bugs hide in other places, including electronics, carpeted balconies, holes in the walls, etc.
    - That you should have washed all your things on hot and sealed them long before he arrives. But he thinks that because you'll be laying in bed as blood bait that you will lure them out across the pesticide, and he hopes it will be enough to kill them.
    - That there are eggs about and he will probably leave with them all over his clothes.

    You could be lucky depending on the size of your infestation and bait (you). But a second visit is really mandatory.

    In my case, a relatively small infestation of a hundred bugs or so, when they did that kind of spraying the bugs were still there a week later. They'd hidden in books and inside a bookshelf, stayed on the ceilings and walls to avoid the pesticide areas, and who knows where else. I refused to use myself as a bait for the bugs. No second spraying was planned by the landlord, either.

    If you don't mind being bait then you might do ok with repeated sprayings, seriously.

    I chose to move out instead, though that took days of planning to make sure I didn't bring any with me. And I won't know if that worked for another few months.

  3. Itchybutdealing

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 19:20:07
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    You need the steam, otherwise it isn't worth it. Maybe the building should purchase a steamer and tenants or landlord can do it themselves.

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 22:46:13
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    Steam can be a useful tool.

    However, I have to say that many people here have treated bed bugs successfully without steam.

    Steam is best used by someone who has done their research and knows how to find and kill bed bugs. Dry vapor steam is the safest (you can actually give yourself a mold problem with a normal wet steamer if you are not very cautious).

    If tenants or landlords steam, it's important that they do so before, not after, treatment, or they can wash away the residual pesticides.

    This article from PCTOnline by Michael Potter et. al. goes into more detail on killing bed bugs with steam:
    http://pctonline.com/articles/printer.asp?ID=2822&IssueID=226&Source=back

    The article recommends a commercial dry vapor steamer such as one by Amerivap. (Note that for home use, readers have recommended two other dry vapor steamers, information on those and lots of other information in this FAQ (despite the URL, it's about using extreme temperatures to kill bed bugs, not about the dryer):
    http://bedbugger.com/2007/05/18/dryer/

    (The Potter article above is linked from the FAQ too.)

    Re: choosing a PCO, more important than "will they steam" is "do they have experience getting rid of bed bugs in situations like ours?" and "Do they know how to search for bed bugs?" "Are they inspecting every unit adjacent to, above, or below an infested one, and treating all with signs of bed bugs?"

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  5. severelyallergic

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 22 2008 23:05:59
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