If you have a pest problem, before you hire an exterminator learn what you can do yourself. The articles below describe the most common household pests and offers tips for eliminating them. Except for termites and bedbugs, you should be able to cure most pest problems without hiring a service.

If you need expert assistance, our ratings of area pest control services will help you find it. Some were rated “superior” overall by 90 percent or more of their surveyed customers, but others received such favorable ratings from fewer than half of their surveyed customers.

Prices for household pest treatments also vary widely. While some companies charge $175 or less for a single treatment for cockroaches, others charge $300 or more.

Don’t assume you have to pay more to get good work: Our evaluation revealed no relationship between prices charged for pest control work and customer satisfaction.

The biggest waste of money? Paying for services you don’t need. To avoid that, don’t contract for expensive pest control work before getting at least a few inspections and proposals. If you suspect you have a termite problem, it’s especially important to get several inspections—to treat a small infestation, one of our undercover shoppers was quoted prices ranging from $600 to $2,000. You’ll also want multiple treatment proposals because some outfits recommend services when there is neither an active infestation nor a serious threat of one.

Many companies advise customers to sign on for year-round service—with monthly payments, of course—even though, for most household pests, a single treatment done properly should do the trick. Avoid getting and paying for applications you don’t need.

Check the guarantees offered by companies. Will they pay for pest damages or just re-treatment? How often will they come over to inspect at no extra charge? And what do you have to do to keep the guarantee in effect?