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Thermal heating - does it damage furniture (ex antiques), varnish, etc?

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  1. 123bugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 2:27:18
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    I am considering a thermal heat treatment in my house. I have found 2 providers near me in Alberta, Canada. One would charge about $1850 and one would charge about $3500. The one who charges more uses electric heaters to warm the air inside your home. They put heaters into your home - like little furnaces - and run electrical cords into your home to run them. I think the cheaper company uses propane to heat air outside your home which is then pumped into the home through some kind of ducts. The expensive company says the propane method can result in damage to your furniture, varnish, etc.

    I am considering thermal treatment because I am very wary of the health effects of pesticides, only. I am concerned, though, that it may cause damage that is either immediately apparent or perhaps not apparent for some time, to my furniture and other items. I have an antique upright piano I am worried about, and just my furniture and wood finishes and so forth, in general. If your furniture is heated up like that, doesn't it weaken the glues, and dry the wood out too much?

    It seems that there are good reports on the effectiveness of the treatments, but I have not seen any comments about potential damage, short or long term, to the house itself. If anyone has tried this method and had damage to furniture or other expensive items please reply. Thanks so much.

  2. acs80

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 2:33:18
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    Sorry that I don't have an answer for you, but I also have a question about thermal. I'm still trying to figure out if I do indeed have bed bugs, and if I do, I'm hoping to get my place treated thermally. I'm wondering, does thermal treatment effect wallpaper? Some of the rooms in my condo are wallpapered and I'm wondering if the high temperature would make the wallpaper glue less sticky or something.

  3. nervousaboutbedbugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 7:38:14
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    My home and furniture did sustain damage from our thermal treatment. Veneers fell off, glue seams showed up in my dining room chairs, toilet gaskets melted.

    I was up in the air between thermal and vikane and chose thermal because I didn't want to explain to neighbors why I was tenting the house. If I had to do it again, I'd definitely do vikane. I don't believe that's an option for you in Canada... sorry, that stinks.

  4. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 10:59:37
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    Thermal can damage some items within the home. I neglected to unplug two DVRs; one died immediately, the other died within 6 months of treatment. My microwave, also plugged in, also died.

    The veneers on three pieces of IKEA furniture peeled partially off. I used wood glue to put them back on. Since they were cheap pieces of furniture, I was not concerned about their loss.

    I have two dressers that belonged to my grandparents. They were both in the bedroom. Neither of them sustained any damage that I could see.

    I would be concerned, possibly, about the piano, however. Musical instruments, as you know, are more sensitive to temperature changes.

    I also suspect it depends on how old and fragile the antique in question is. Since my grandparents were born in 1899 and 1908, I'm not sure when their dressers were purchased and whether or not that makes them antiques yet, but one thing that struck me was that they were so much better made than just about anything I've seen in stores today (which is one reason I have cheap IKEA stuff in the living room. If I can't get well made stuff in the first place, why buy expensive stuff that is also badly made? That and most of my IKEA stuff is book/work related: I have a lot of books, so I have a lot of bookshelves. One piece of furniture is a "desk" that's a table from IKEA.) that I wasn't really worried about those dressers at all.

    Most of the IKEA stuff that did react was clearly closest to the ducts. (And yes, they use ducts. If you remember when the people in haz mat suits go into the house to get ET at the end of that movie? That's pretty much exactly what part of your house will look like. Big mylar-looking ducts carrying the heat into the structure.)

    My thermal provider sent one of the thermal techs out to do a walkthrough before treated. That tech advised me about everything that was likely to be affected by the heat and told me specifically what items I needed to remove.

    I cannot swear that that's standard procedure for every company, but I would imagine it is. Sending the tech out to walk through for prep also allows the tech to assess the structure in advance and think about the best way to position ducts and heaters, where monitors will go, if there are any hazards specific to the site (like a sprinkler system that must be disabled), and so on.

    At that time, you can point particular issues out to the tech.

    You also might call both companies with your specific concerns--the piano, any other antiques you have, and so on--and ask them.

    (My treatment was done with propane style heaters more than two years ago. I've been bug free ever since. I mention those facts in the interest of full disclosure.)

    There are risks of some damage with heat; for me, being rid of the bugs in a single treatment and not having to do battle for months on end was more than worth the risk of some damage to a few items.

    I do wish the PCO had warned a little more strongly about unplugging any electronic device that drew power even if it appeared to be off/was in standby mode. I'm not blaming the PCO; they did tell me to unplug everything electronic, and I forgot about things that didn't appear to be on to the naked eye (i.e. I wasn't using them at that moment). But I think given how sleep deprived many bed bug sufferers are, being extra emphatic about that is a good idea.

    Other than that, and the rudeness of the people I spoke to on the phone, I have no complaints about the service since my goal was to get rid of all the bugs as fast as possible in one treatment without having to act as bait. Since that was my goal, the risk of some damage to furniture--and the fact that it only happened to my cheap stuff, was an acceptable downside to me. Your mileage on what constitutes an acceptable downside, of course, may vary. But I hope that info helps.

  5. 123bugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 12:48:39
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    Thanks so much for your answer, and all the time to respond. I really appreciate it. I guess you can recall how the state I am in right now feels. Thanks.

    I am also kind of worried, after reading Frank's "heat and cold treatment" article, that the heat treatments could cause the bb's to go dormant, and then come back.

    I am worried about how to bring my pets back safely into the house - hope a pet shampoo the vet says kills bb's will be sufficient - what else could I do? (My dog is definitely scratching)

    I am worried about reinfesting my house from anything in the car. I got bb's in a hotel in NY two weeks ago, and my luggage was in the trunk and backseat of the car.

    I am worried about spending thousands of dollars and then having my kids reintroduce bb's to my house because they go back and forth to their father's house and I don't know if he got bb's from us or not. I explained that we may have given him bb's and inquired about what measure he might take and he just laughed at me and hung up - ie I can't depend on him to work something out ex synchronize treatments, etc.

    Thanks - glad for you you got rid of yours
    Hope I will be successful as well. Hopefully before the nervous breakdown I feel coming on.......

  6. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 13:37:56
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    Bed bugs don't harbor on animals, and they are very, very unlikely to lay eggs while they are on a pet. (Bed bugs aren't fleas, that do lay eggs on the animal, or ticks that take a long time to feed. Bed bugs feed, get the heck out of dodge, and then hide somewhere quiet to lay their eggs.)

    I'm not saying it's impossible for a bed bug egg to end up on a pet (I have a cat, so I went through the same thing), but it's highly, highly unlikely.

    I had my cat bathed, kept her at a pet sitter's place during the day of the treatment (and another day to let the house cool), and then she went back in and was fine. I didn't even have the groomer use a special shampoo. (This was all complicated by the fact that I was leaving town for a family wedding the day of treatment, so I had to make arrangements for other people to do certain things for me.)

    It's very unusual--very, very unusual--for bed bugs to infest the car. I'm 90% sure I picked up bed bugs at a hotel I stayed at in California--I've narrowed it down to one or two possibilities. I drove to both. I had luggage in my car after both stays. I took luggage in my car other places, and I do all my laundry at a laundromat, so that also means stuff in the car. I had bed bugs for at least 6 weeks before I figured it out (thought mosquitos or fleas). My car did not get infested.

    I'm not saying it's impossible, and after first learning of the bugs, it's very natural to suddenly see 18 billion possible vectors for infestation, but chances are very, very good that your car isn't infested.

    (I'm also very much not a big fan of putting infested items into cars in the sun to debug them. It's not as reliable a method as many people seem to think, and it does risk the bugs crawling out of your items and infesting the car.)

    Before I realized I had bed bugs, I went to three conferences for work (one of them was the possible source). At each one I shared a hotel room, and sometimes a bed, with other people. I stayed at the homes of several friends on one side or the other of those trips. During none of that time did i realize I'd been exposed, so I took no precautions not to spread them.

    Luckily for me, none of them got infestations--not even people in the same room or bed in the hotel I think I got them from. (Not knowing any better, I did unpack my clothes into drawers in dressers in the hotel, something I almost never do now.)

    At any rate, while I don't advocate not taking the precautions outlined in the FAQs, i do tell that story often to drive home that when we first learn about bed bugs, we kind of go to DEFCON 1, you know? Every upholstered chair in a public place is a possible threat and must be eradicated. Uncomfortable chairs for everyone in public for life!

    Once your infestation goes away, you'll never go back to DEFCON 5, but you can resume life at a DEFCON 4. It just takes some time to get there. (I seriously stopped eating the multigrain bread at Panera because it had flax seeds that were about the same size and color of bed bugs, and my heart would race a little each time I saw one out of the corner of my eye for a while immediately post treatment, and that was too much stress for me.

    Now I leave laundry baskets of clean clothes on my bed! Crazy, but true!)

    At any rate, I guess what I'm saying is that it's pretty normal to be worried about infinitesimally small chances of bed bug infestation possibilities right now.

    And you will want to be cautious until you're sure that your place is bed bug free and you know whether the kids' dad's place is bed bug free.

    But it's also not a given that his place has been infested. Unfortunately, only time will tell, but even if that's the case, scrupulously following the protocols in the FAQs should keep reinfestation from being an issue.

    (I would suggest getting a Packtite to make it easier to decon stuff from his place until you know, but I know you're in Canada. I know the Packtite manufacturer is working on getting it approved in Canada, but, unfortunately, it's taking a while.)

    Hang in there. It does get better, and the bugs can be beat.

  7. 123bugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Sep 13 2010 1:02:38
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    Hi -
    Yes - I was just telling a friend this evening that I can't imagine life ever being the same after this. (Remember the movie "6th Sense"? Well, "I see bedbugs. Live ones. They're everywhere"....... ha ha!) I am a person who is very toxin conscious - I am even particular about the shampoos/lotions/cosmetics I buy for myself and my girls, because most have unsafe ingredients in them. So to consider having several applications of pesticides in my home is e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y upsetting to me, particularly if have to do it several times. So though I cannot afford it, I was seriously considering getting the heat treatment done, particularly as have kids and pets in the home as well. Tonight I read several threads re people who had negative experiences with heat treatment (didn't work, things destroyed, etc.), so I really really don't know what to do. I want to decide tomorrow, as want to get going on treatment. It seems that if you have a knowledgeable person doing pesticides, it works and if you don't it doesn't, and if you have a knowledgeable person doing heat treament it works and if you don't it doesn't. No matter what you choose, there are people who have had a really negative experience with it, it seems. I will be just sick if I go for the heat treatment, break the bank, and then still have a problem. But still afraid of the chemicals, and don't want to live with guilt of subjecting my kids and pets to it. Aghhhhhh! I guess I'll just do my best to ask the right questions of the people I call tomorrow and hope I pick the right company to safely rid me of bedbugs.

    P.S. I'm going to try to get someone in the States to buy the packtite for me and mail it to me - wish me luck! I really need it as would help immensely with the kids back and forth problem......

  8. 123bugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Sep 13 2010 1:08:31
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    To Buggyinsocal -
    Oh, and thanks for comforting thoughts re pets. Dog truly is scratching alot suddenly. It is kind of critical too, because have to go on a trip end of Oct and pets need to be taken care of - can't put in kennel as never do (too hard on them) and no family to help - don't want my friends to get bedbugs, or to take a chance on it. So really stressed about it. Really need to believe they won't give bb's to anyone. Thanks - L

  9. Mofear

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Sep 13 2010 18:17:24
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    Anyone know if autographed baseballs or baseball cards in plastic sheets would be damaged by thermal? I know this sounds random.... Just really need to know if they need to be taken out.

  10. bugin in erie

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Sep 14 2010 8:40:20
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    My family is having a thermal treatment done on Friday, I live in Erie PA. the little b-------, came with us from an apartment we rented while our new home was being built. Erlich is the company that is doing the thermal treatment. they are going to heat the house upto 150-160 degrees. Is my laptop, LCD TVs safe in that heat? I guess its ok because they are insured and will replace anything that is damaged.

    Bugin in Erie

  11. spideyjg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Sep 14 2010 8:51:03
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    Depends on the electronics but over 140 is dicey territory.

    Jim

  12. bugin in erie

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Sep 14 2010 11:17:22
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    the laptop computer is a HP, LCD tv is a sony flat screen and the other two tvs are flat screens as well and one tube tv.

  13. 123bugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Sep 14 2010 15:20:57
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    Hi-
    Just noticed the post re temperatures - thermal company I spoke with recently also said no need to go over 140 degrees - said 118 degress is the kill temperature and get much more damage if go over that. I am NO expert on thermal heat, but my understanding is that it is far more important to make sure, via use of monitors, sensors etc., that the heat is even (that everything is heated sufficiently - no hot spots and no spots that aren't hot enough) - than to just raise the temp super high. (I guess if raise it super high you might increase chance of everything getting hot enough but also increase chances of damage.) Again, I am not an expert at all - just passing along what this fellow explained to me.

  14. Eve

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Sep 14 2010 15:44:55
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    There was another poster here who talked about really high temperatures and got a lot of damage (including to the structure). Be careful.

    As a minimum make sure all your plug-ins are empty of plugs (turning off the appliance/electronics is not enough).

    The upper temperature I hear is something like 130-140 and even that is hot.

    Eve

  15. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Fri Sep 17 2010 20:01:14
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    Mofear - 4 days ago  » 
    Anyone know if autographed baseballs or baseball cards in plastic sheets would be damaged by thermal? I know this sounds random.... Just really need to know if they need to be taken out.

    The service provider should be consulted on this.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  16. SearchandDestroy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sat Sep 18 2010 21:27:13
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    To Buggyinsocal - LOL...you had me laughing at the seeds from Panera..I have the same phobia!! Everytime I see one, I freak..but now I can tell the difference. They have those dang seeds on whole grain bread you can buy in the store too.

    To 123bugs - I was extremely against pesticides in my home too..funny how these small things can change ones mind in a hurry. The nice(?) thing about the spray is there is a residual that lasts for months..kind of scary but also comforting in a weird way.

    Good luck with your decision.


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