What to Know About Pests and Your Air Conditioner

As we approach spring, it is a great time to get home maintenance done around the house to prepare for the summer season. But spring also brings with it unwanted guests, pests like mice, rats, ants, wasps, lizards, and snakes,  can take up residence in your air conditioning equipment. They have been known to invade ductwork, squeeze into small spaces, chew wires and drain lines, and sneak into condenser units. In short, they can inflict a lot of damage on your air conditioning system and cause unexpected repairs. Here’s what you need to know to protect your HVAC investment from common pests.

What kind of pests are most destructive?

Vermin, such as rats, mice, squirrels, opossums, and racoons, can burrow into your attic and duct work to create a nest for spring babies and this can cause significant damage. If they burrow into your ductwork. it can be unsanitary because contaminated air will be distributed around your home possibly causing bad smells or allergies. Rodents are also known for their incessant chewing, and electrical wiring damage is another symptom we commonly see. This can be dangerous for many reasons, and it is a top reason we find dead rodents when we get called for a service call to repair a unit that isn’t working. Another reason rodents like your attic and insulation is because the condensate drain lines which drain off humidity from the air are a source of moisture and water.  If you have an infestation in your air ducts, we recommend professional cleaning after the animals are removed and any entry points are sealed. We recommend Power Vac America for this kind of work because it takes specialized tools and expertise to properly clean and restore ducts that have had a rodent infestation.

What types of pests get into the outside condenser unit?

We sometimes see rodents like squirrels or roof rats, lizards and geckos, and even occasionally snakes (!) in outdoor condensing units. Often the snakes slither in because they are looking for rodents, and then they short out the electrical system or get caught in fan blades. Either way, it’s bad for both the health of the machine and critters that get in there.  We sometimes see paper wasps set up nests in the outdoor electrical boxes, so we have to be careful when opening areas of your system if it hasn’t been serviced in a while. After spring rains, fire ants and crazy ants are attracted to the electrical current that powers the unit. Once a few of them die, they give off a pheromone which can cause them to swarm which can short the entire system out. For this reason, we always install closed contactors to eliminate the insect’s access to parts of the outdoor electrical system, but we commonly find older equipment doesn’t have these protections.

What can homeowners do to make their home less attractive to pests?

During your regular yard work, make sure that the areas around your outdoor condensing unit or heat pump are clear of debris, grass, and dense bushes. Make sure your trash bins are covered and your compost pile is a distance away from your air conditioning equipment if possible. This tactic eliminates places for pests to hide, and it can make taking up residence in your condenser less attractive. A regular pest control program is also a smart idea to identify any areas of access to  your home that can be shored up or covered with gnaw-proof materials. We strongly recommend regular maintenance of your air conditioning and heating system or heat pump by a licensed professional in the spring and the fall, typically when the weather is cooler and pests are more active. As part of our work, we will inspect air ducts and make sure they are sealed, clean your condenser, and make sure air vents and flue covers are clear. This gives us a chance not only to detect parts that might wear out soon, but also it is an opportune time to detect any pest infestations that need to be addressed by a professional pest control outfit. We use BUGCO Pest Control for our home and office because they’re consistent and always go the extra mile for us and our customers.

We Can Help

If you’re in need of an air conditioning and heating repair or quote on a new system, contact Rob and Kenny at Terry’s A/C and Heating at 281-495-7830. Our family-owned business operates from Richmond, Texas and serves West Houston, Katy, Rosenberg, Sugar Land, and Fulshear home and business owners. See other maintenance tips we recommend and what makes us different from other air conditioning and heating contractors in the Houston area. Give us a call today – we’d be honored to earn your business.