Let’s face it, living here in Southwest Florida is a little bit like living in the rainforest. We have all sorts of critters sharing our environment, and if you’ve come here from somewhere up North, you may not even know about some of these critters or how they got into your home. First of all, if you already have critters in your home, we highly suggest calling a pest control company to take care of getting rid of them. But you will also want to make sure they are not getting in through the HVAC system.
For an HVAC system to work well, there must be some exchange of indoor and outdoor air, which can provide an opening for the creepy-crawly critters of the great outdoors. While a well-maintained system has numerous safeguards to prevent them from getting inside, many unwanted house guests only need a tiny amount of space to sneak in. Maintaining your HVAC system and controlling pests may seem like two completely separate concerns, but they overlap in many ways. The saliva, skin cells and droppings left behind by pests can be serious irritants for sufferers of asthma and other respiratory conditions, creating an indoor air quality issue. And rodents may even chew up or build nests in your sensitive system components. Fortunately, what’s good for pest prevention is usually also good for your HVAC system.
Creating a critter-resistant zone
Prevent pest infestations and the problems which go along with it by taking these steps to make sure your HVAC system and its components are protected. These tips are things you can do yourself, or have your At Your Service technician do for you:
- Seal your ductwork—Gaps, cracks, and larger disconnections in the duct system create points of access for pests to enter your HVAC system as well as your home or building’s interiors. Insects, mice, and larger vermin may enter the duct system, depending on the size of air leaks. If you do have pests in the system, you should know that trapping is a better option than pesticides when ductwork is infested; live traps can be set inside the ducts to trap larger pests such as mice and rats, so they can be removed, while glue traps can be used to catch insects. Duct cleaning can remove dead pests as well as the debris they’ve left behind to improve indoor air quality.
- Have flue and vent covers installed—If pests are using your HVAC system to gain access to your home, a technician can fit vents with protective screens. Our professionals can also pinpoint drafts, which usually result from openings large enough to allow insect infiltration. Your HVAC system utilizes flue pipes to expel byproducts of combustion from the furnace; these pipes must be in good working order to protect occupants from dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning. If critters, such as birds and chipmunks, enter the flue pipes and perish, their remains can block the flue, forcing combustion byproducts back into the home or building. Your home or business may also have fresh air intakes and other exterior vents which are components of ventilation systems, such as whole-home ventilation or exhaust fans for kitchens and bathrooms. Pests can enter the building through exterior vents, and often find these areas to be an ideal location to build their nest. Vent covers should be installed on all exterior flues, intakes, and exhaust vents. These covers will block pests’ point of entry, preventing them from travelling inside your home or business, and keeping your pipes clear of nests. These covers have additional benefits, such as keeping rain water out of your vents. Make sure vent covers are installed securely; small animals can be resourceful, and may find a way to pull off your covers if they are not on tightly.
- Control moisture—Florida is a wet place to live and in the summer it rains every day, just like in the rainforest. Virtually all pests rely on water to survive, so water is a primary way pests get attracted to your home. Avoid puddling water in and around the home, especially near your outdoor air conditioning condenser. Use dehumidifiers in areas where dampness is a problem.
- Protect your air conditioning condenser—Rodents and other small animals can cause damage to your exterior air conditioning condenser. They can damage components by chewing, scratching, urinating, and more— even their presence can harm the system, should you happen to turn the air conditioning system on when they are inside. Your best line of defense in protecting your condenser is preventing rodents from coming near it to begin with. Keep the area surrounding your condenser clear by cleaning around it on a regular basis. Cut away vegetation and clean excrement, which can attract vermin to the area initially. Warm water and a mild soap can be used to scrub the exterior of the unit as well as the surrounding area.Use a pet repellant to deter animals from coming to the area. Pet repellants contain scents which are unattractive to animals, so by spraying it on the condenser its surroundings, animals will not want to come nearby. Pet repellants are a safer alternative to chemical pest treatments as they are natural, so you won’t risk the negative side effects of pesticide exposure when working to prevent pest issues.
- Buy a maintenance plan— Make sure your having regular maintenance done on your HVAC system—this will help keep the system clean and help catch any new infestations. At Your Service offers a yearly maintenance plan, and with good reason. Not only are we able to keep your HVAC unit in good repair, which lowers your electricity bills, but a professional inspection and tune-up is the best way to check for signs of any critter infestation in your system.