26 May Bed bug prevention and treatment in the construction of new multi family buildings

It has been known for a number of years that bed bugs are becoming more resistant to pyrethroid chemical treatments. As chemical treatments became less effective other methods have been devised such as whole home heat treatments. But these heat treatments have limitations in that it is extraordinarily difficult to heat concrete walls and floors in which bed bugs can hide. Exterior walls also contain loose insulation in which bed bugs could avoid lethal heat temperatures. Also there usually is not enough power available to operate the heating equipment which hampers effective treatments. The following are some suggestions for new building construction to make the above heat treatments more effective:

Hydronic infloor heat pipes, placed directly on the hollow core concrete floor and covered with gypcrete, should be used for space heating. The gypcrete would seal the floors to prevent bed bugs from gaining access to the areas between the precast hollow floor sections. The pipes should be spaced very close together to facilitate additional heat being pumped into the floor. The pipes should also go up the walls, just behind the drywall, about 3 feet. The boiler supplying the heat should be sized to provide much more heat than is necessary for ordinary space heating which would then super heat the floor and bottom portion of the walls when required. This heat could then penetrate areas that are typically difficult to seal such as electrical plugs and plumbing penetrations and kill the bugs from the inside of the walls.

Spray on polyurethane foam should be used to insulate the exterior walls. This product is applied as a liquid and expands to seal all the cracks, crevices, and holes that a bed bug could enter. As such all bed bugs would be excluded from entering cooler harbourages or even other suites. Coupled with the gypcretre and the heat pipes the bugs would have no where to run. Also the spray foam is a very effective insulator which would decrease the amount of heat loss to exterior areas, Decreased heat loss makes more effective interior heating.

All levels of the building should include several additional 40 amp 220 volt plugs. The plugs would be located in the hallways so that supplementary whole home heat treatment equipment could be easily powered. And because the suites are sealed with gypcrete and polyurethane foam one would not need to heat adjacent suites – only the infested ones. Building management could purchase their own electrically powered heating equipment and apply treatments as necessary.

I would envision the infloor heating system to be set at maximum several hours before the supplementary heating equipment was activated. With the infloor heat penetrating the walls, baseboards, and electrical plugs the supplementary heat could be focused on heating the contents of the suite. The floor heat would only act in a complimentary fashion for the contents.