How to Keep Pests Out of Your HVAC System
Pests have a propensity to get into homes and HVAC systems. When they do, all sorts of problems can develop, such as increased energy costs, indoor air quality problems, compromised functionality, and more. They can chew through electrical wires, urinate on equipment, and get stuck inside HVAC components. Pests can also carry diseases, and if they die, can promote mold, mildew, fungi, and maggots.
Pests pose a risk to your family’s health and HVAC system. And the colder weather means that pests will be seeking shelter. Your warm home is going to be very tempting for pests like insects and rodents. Unfortunately, the HVAC system offers several easy access points.
If you suspect a pest in your HVAC system or ductwork, contact your local professional HVAC company.
To prevent pests from entering the HVAC system in the first place, here are some easy ways to keep pests out of your heating and cooling system.
Schedule annual professional maintenance
The best way to prevent HVAC problems from happening in the first place is by scheduling professional air conditioning maintenance in the spring and heating maintenance in the fall. Your trained and certified HVAC technician will be able to seal ducts, vents, and flues to ensure that pests cannot enter the HVAC system.
Seal air ducts
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has leaks in the ductwork that lose about 20 to 30 percent of its conditioned air. That’s a lot of gaps and cracks — any of which can provide an opening for a pest. Cracks in duct connections, especially in basements, crawlspaces, and attics, provide an pathway for pests.
We highly recommend completely sealing your ductwork. You can try to seal the ducts yourself with HVAC aluminum foil tape of mastic sealant (not duct tape!), but only a professional will be able to seal the entire system. Learn more about professional duct sealing.
Seal furnace inlet and exhaust pipes
The furnace vents that stick out of the side of your home offer two openings for tiny trespassers. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a screen to prevent mice from entering, birds from building nests, and other pests from crawling inside.
We recommend using a mesh screen with openings that are neither too big nor too small. A fine mesh can clog and freeze up, causing backdrafting and other issues. Chicken wire with large openings won’t prevent any small critter from entering.
Instead, look for “hardware cloth,” which has openings ¼” to ½” wide.
After any major storm or freezing rain, check the inlet and exhaust pipes to make sure they aren’t clogged.
Seal other points of entry
It’s a good idea to look for gaps and cracks all around your home to reduce the chances of pests entering the home. Learn tips for finding and sealing gaps and cracks around your building.
Keep the home clean
Here are a few cleaning tips to prevent pests:
- Use trashcans with secure lids and keep them away from the perimeter of the home.
- As often as possible, clean every inch of the home.
- Use sealable containers to store food.
- Eliminate clutter.
Avoid plumbing leaks and standing water
Mosquitoes, rodents, and other pests are attracted to water and moisture. If you suspect a plumbing leak, contact a professional plumber to fix the problem as soon as possible.
Always wipe up spills and wipe down kitchens and bathrooms. Avoid any receptacles around the home that could collect water. To maintain ideal indoor humidity levels, consider installing a whole-home humidification system.
Schedule bi-annual HVAC maintenance
Did you know that you are supposed to schedule one air conditioning tune-up every spring and one heating tune-up every fall? Not only does this keep any manufacturer warranties you have in place, but it also makes sure everything is clean and efficient all year round.
To help you remember these important home maintenance tune-ups, we recommend signing up for a Home Care Club. This will ensure you get the regular tune-ups your system needs. Not only can rodents and other pests present an indoor air quality problem, they could also damage your electrical wires and other system components.
It’s important to supplement professional tune-ups with regular air filter replacements. Learn more about the importance of regular HVAC maintenance.