Will Bed Bug Heat Treatment Damage My Home?

Bed bug heat treatment home damage potential is generally low. Heat treatments are safe and effective, though damage to your home and belongings is possible.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Heat treatments for bed bugs are considered generally safe and effective, but they can cause damage to your home and belongings. During heat treatments, a pest control technician typically raises the home temperature to over 120°F. The severity of damage depends on the items you have in your home and their level of heat sensitivity.
No one wants to find bed bugs in their home. If you spot signs of them, it’s important to ensure you take care of the issue promptly. While a professional will determine and execute the best course of treatment, it’s important to plan ahead and understand what the heat treatment process means for you.
In this guide, the
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will cover how to prepare your house, what to do after heat treatment, and a few tips to maximize your results while minimizing damage.

What is heat treatment?

Heat treatments are exactly what they sound like—an exterminator will come to your home and use special equipment to raise the ambient temperature in your house anywhere from 120 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat treatments are considered highly effective, as a single treatment can rid your home of 95 to 100 percent of bed bugs. In extreme cases, a company may use heat upwards of 180 degrees that can kill bugs in seconds.
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How to protect your home from heat treatments

All this talk of extreme heat probably has you wondering about its effects on your house.
One way to find out the heat sensitivity of items in your house is to contact the manufacturer. If you are unable to get this information and are unsure of a material’s sensitivity to heat, you should then take extra steps to protect it.
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Talk with your technician

Your pest control technician will provide you with the most comprehensive advice on how to prepare your home and valuables for heat treatment.
Ask them to note any larger items you need to protect or move ahead of time, such as TV stands, picture frames, laminated furniture. They will be able to point out items of concern before they begin.
Pro Tip: Heat treatment will not damage electronics. Bed bugs hide in electronics, so bringing them with you means you risk re-infecting your home.

Home preparation checklist

After consulting with the professionals, it’s time to prepare your home. Here’s what you should do:
  • Clean your space—an exterminator will not heat treat your home if there is pet waste, trash, or rotten food, so welcome them into a neat and clean living space
  • Remove all fire hazards and explosives, such as aerosol cans, ammunition, pressurized cans and bottles, perfume, alcohol, and fire extinguishers
  • Store “meltables” such as chocolates, medications, and food and beverages in the fridge
  • Remove heat-sensitive household items such as candles, oil paintings, and house plants and take down blinds
  • Unplug your electronics and shield them from the heat

Consider acclimation

One way to protect sensitive items is by covering them with moving blankets and focusing coverage on where the circulation fans are blowing. This will give you some buffer time to assess how the item is responding to the heat, as well as more time for the material to adjust.
If relying on blankets seems a little weak to you, you can gradually increase the temperature in your house. Turn up your thermostat in 10-degree increments until you reach the expected treatment temperature. This method is especially useful for laminate and vinyl flooring, helping you to monitor materials for potential damage.
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Arrange to vacate

Typical heat treatments can last 6 to 9 hours, plus additional wait times after the treatment. You should plan where you will stay during the treatment, especially in case of inclement weather.
Before you say “sayonara, suckers,” remember to bring any pets—including fish and their tanks—with you. If you’re going to work for the day and there is a strict no-pet policy, arrange for a pet-sitter in advance.
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What should I do after a heat treatment?

Cool down your house

Cooling down your house will take some time after heat treatment. Return home briefly to turn on your air conditioning and leave the house for a few hours to allow it to cool off.

Clean your space again

Start cleaning soft surfaces and upholstery. All bedding should have been removed before heat treatment, so you will only have to vacuum the mattress and box spring to remove any bug remains. If you find any visible spots, an upholstery cleaner will remove any residue.
Wipe down all hard surfaces with normal cleaning products and vacuum all other areas around the house where bed bug remnants have accumulated.
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Protect vulnerable family members

If you or someone in your household has allergies, asthma, or COPD, it’s highly recommended they stay the night elsewhere while the house cools to completion. The heat and any leftover sediment from the treatment can cause flare-ups.

Follow up with your technician and consider other treatments

If all goes well, the first heat treatment should have taken care of all the bed bugs. If not, you may need additional treatments. Talk with your technician and learn what other extermination methods are available to you.
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It’s highly unlikely. Unless your house catches on fire due to exterminator error, there isn’t much else you could claim. And with heat treatments being highly effective and safe, your chance for a fire is extremely slim.
Since infestations are preventable, it is unlikely that a
renter's insurance
policy will cover extermination treatments—but it’s still important to view policies in your state and evaluate your insurance needs. 
Also keep in mind that your landlord may have the insurance to cover these expenses, so report signs of an infestation as soon as possible.
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