Of course, this time of year you expect to see a lot more creepy critters around the house – but as Halloween decorations, not pests in your HVAC. Ironically, there are probably both. When the temperatures outside drop, there’s a mad rush for the warmth inside. Even those with exoskeletons are instinctively seeking out places to escape the cold.
- Rodents – Mice and rats and other small animals that get into your HVAC system can actually cause a lot of damage. They like to use duct material to build nests and they’ve been known to chew through refrigerant lines and other components. They can also be dangerous to your health, spreading disease to humans directly through contact with feces, urine, or saliva (bites), or indirectly through fleas, ticks, and mites that have feasted on infected animals. If you have an infestation, you’ll need a professional exterminator to safely rid your home of them. Afterward, you may also want to have an HVAC professional clean your ducts.
- Cockroaches – Cockroaches can get just about anywhere, including your ductwork. Again, they don’t cause problems for the actual equipment, but they do carry diseases, can cause allergic reactions, or trigger asthma symptoms. Don’t use pesticides or bug sprays in your ventilation system; the fumes will spread through your house the next time it kicks on. Rather, have a pest control company treat the infestation safely.
- Spiders – Spiders can easily get into your ductwork, vents, and indoor air conditioner any time of the year. While they don’t really hurt anything in your HVAC and they’re downright useful outside, you don’t necessarily want them in your ductwork or crawling into your house. Some of them are venomous and can cause problems with bites.
- Snakes – When it grows cold outside snakes seek warmer spaces, and that might be your ductwork. Even in the summer they might coil up around the condenser because it generates heat. Besides the creepy factor, they might get caught up in the fan blades which can destroy them or other parts of the unit.
Preventing a pest invasion
There are some things you can do to prevent a home invasion by these creepy critters. They include:
- Putting screens over openings – Air vents are little highways from the outside to the inside, so block this easy access by installing a mesh screen tightly over the entry.
- Sealing your ducts – If you have any cracks or loose seals in your ductwork, this can be a prime entry point for insects. Make sure your ductwork is properly sealed with foil tape for small cracks or mastic sealant for large ones.
- Keeping things clean – Regular cleaning removes dirt and allergens, as well as lint build-up in your dryer vent, which can also attract insects and rodents who love to make nests in it. If you cover your air conditioning unit in the winter, be sure to cover only the top – otherwise a fully covered unit looks mighty inviting to small things looking for some place warm to stay for the winter.
- Having regular maintenance – consider having an annual maintenance contract so you can keep everything clean, pest-free, and in top running condition.
Experienced technicians can properly inspect specific areas and alert you to any potential problems – creepy critter or otherwise.Common Causes of Furnace Fires and How to Prevent Them » « To Cover or Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner in the Fall