AC and Heating Tip from AC Express
Pest Proof Your HVAC System
There’s a reason we have a synonym for “annoy” called “pester.” Pests are a nuisance, no matter how you look at it. There’s no good outcome from having pests in your home. As such, it is worth understanding the how and why pests come to infiltrate a home and what one can do about. Your HVAC system, your Austin heating and cooling components, take up a decent amount of space though most of it is out of sight. But just because it’s out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.
It’s a fact that pests will take the easiest entry point they can find to enter your home and often times that weak spot in the insulation of the house is in or around some part of your HVAC system. Whether it’s getting into and subsequently messing up your outdoor air conditioning unit or getting into the ducts and from there the rest of the home, pests are a nuisance that often finds their way into your life through your HVAC system. This tip of the day is going to deal with this issue and how to solve and prevent it.
Why Worry About Pests?
It should go without saying that pests are something to avoid but before we dive into the details of how pests get into your house and why the HVAC system is a hot spot for them let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon of a pest infestation and its ramifications.
The ramifications of a pest infestation through your heating and cooling systems fall under two categories, damage to the HVAC system and danger to your health. Pests can damage the HVAC components in which they are nesting or using to move about the home or building, causing the need for expensive repairs or system replacement. Pests entering the structure through HVAC systems can also cause extensive damage to the home itself, generating the expense of necessary repairs. Pest damage to the HVAC systems and/or the structure itself can have a negative impact on resale value.
Pests can get up into delicate components of your heating and cooling units and cause significant damage in a short amount of time. That means you’ll soon have to deal with not only the issue of pest removal but also likely the damage they caused. This means another call to your local Austin AC repair company that previously wasn’t necessary.
But your air conditioner and heater aren’t the only things that can fall victim to the damaging effects of pests. Many pests are also common allergens. With such pests infesting within HVAC systems, occupants are continuously exposed to allergens which trigger symptoms ranging from minor to severe. Pests nesting in outdoor components, such as within air conditioning condensers or vents, pose a threat to anyone nearby; passersby and HVAC technicians could be seriously harmed if stung by a bee or bitten by a rodent. As pest debris cycle into indoor areas when air circulates through the HVAC systems in which they are living, the home or business will become contaminated with dander, droppings, and other pest debris. Exposure may exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the ramifications of the primary method of removing a pest infestation, pesticide, which may get rid of pests in a hurry but it has negative effects as well. Exposure to pesticides used in attempt to treat a pest infestation can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. In serious cases, pesticides may damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver, as well as increase one’s risk of cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
This whole mess is bad news for the general air quality in your home as well. If pesticides are being used in efforts to treat your pest problems, the chemicals in these products will also diminish the quality of air inside your home. And on top that the pests themselves sometimes can affect the air in unpleasant ways. Droppings, dead pests, and other pest debris left behind in your HVAC system (namely your ducts) can cause your interiors to smell. As conditioned air circulates through the duct system, the odors emitted by pests will move into your home.
All of this is to say that pests are a problem and the problem doesn’t even stop at their removal with the unintended side effects of pesticide. That’s why the best solution to the problem by far is to avoid the problem altogether, and that can be done by pest proofing your HVAC system.
How Pests Get In
Your HVAC system includes more than you may think. Standing for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the term HVAC covers everything from the indoor and outdoor units of your air conditioner and heater, the ventilation systems in place in your home, the insulation, the attic, the ductwork, and more. We talk about these areas when we talk about pests because these are vulnerable spots in your home’s barrier between the inside and the outside.
The attic in particular is a big source of trouble. If your HVAC system is in the attic (or an infrequently visited closet, which is another favorite hiding space for pests), pests may enter the ductwork attached to the system before you realize you have pests. The ductwork for them is a quick, easy way to access many other places in your home. Your HVAC system is a key piece of equipment that keeps everyone in your home comfortable, including pests. They love warmth and humidity that often accompanies the tight spaces located among much of your HVAC equipment.
So not only is the ventilation system an easy in for them compared to the walls of your house, the HVAC is a nice place for them to live and make their stay. A warm home attracts insects in the winter partially because the heat from the heater attracts them, and it’s not unheard of for them to go right to the heat source. The winter is far from the only time pests are likely to be a problem though. During the summer wasps and bees can enter through small openings, messing up your Austin air conditionnig. In the fall, rodents of all sizes, including rats and squirrels, will head indoors seeking protection from the colder weather. The entry points in many cases are the soffit and roof vents that simply open to the outside. Once inside a house mice and rats will breed quickly, depositing large amounts of toxic droppings.
Now let’s get into the defense. We’ve looked at some of the reasons why pests are something to avoid and we’ve looked at some of the reasons the HVAC system is a perfect doorway for them to make their entrance. What follows will be about the tried and true methods of making your HVAC system more resilient to the potential of a pest infiltration.
The ductwork that runs throughout your house is an obvious entry point for pests. It’s a big walkway that connects all the areas in your home and leads outside as well. And because it isn’t visible to you any cracks or weaknesses in your ducts are not going to be immediately obvious. Loose joints, cracks, disconnections and gaps in the duct system give an easy entry for pests like mice, squirrels, insects and birds. These defects may also cause loss of conditioned air and result in energy wastage. Get your ductwork periodically checked by an HVAC technician and get any defects fixed. If the duct is infested, you have to remove pests and debris first.
Pesticides and poisons can kill pests or rodents, but it’s a bad idea because pests may die in the duct and make the problem worse. Locating and removing decomposing pest carcass from ducts can be a big headache. The other problem with pesticides is that they can distribute toxins inside your home and pose serious health hazards. That’s why prevention is by far your best weapon against pests as removing them once they’re inside is a hassle of its own, even if you kill them.
But sometimes regardless of how well sealed your ducts are, they’ll find their way in. Depending on the type of infestation, you can consider trapping the pests. This works very well for rodents. You can also use glue traps to catch insects. If that does not solve the problem, contact a pest control expert. They will use a variety of methods to get rid of pests. They also know which pesticides are safe to use and what precautions can minimize health risks. Once pests are removed, you must get the duct cleaned to remove debris before getting it sealed.
The outside unit of your air conditioner is another weak spot, mainly because it is outside and exposed to the elements. The condenser of the cooling system is another area where pests can create major damage. Small rodents may decide to explore the inside of the condenser unit if they manage to get in. They can also damage wires and other components by chewing, scratching or urinating on them. Major damage can occur if the unit is switched on when pests are inside.
Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to protecting the condenser unit. Keep the area around the unit clear by regularly removing weeds and trimming any vegetation near it. This is also essential to maintain adequate airflow so that the unit can dissipate heat while operating. Remove any pest droppings and scrub the exterior of the unit with warm soapy water to remove all dirt.
Using a pest repellent is a great idea to prevent pests from coming near the unit. They emit odors that repel animals. Spray them on and around the condenser unit to keep rodents and other animals away. Pest repellents are far superior to pesticides. They are natural materials and unlike pesticides, are safe for humans. They also don’t kill pests and you don’t have to worry about dead pests decomposing around your home.
Pest Prevention and Heating Repair in Austin
The how and why of pest infestations is important to understand if you want to battle them but more important is knowing what you can do to prevent them from getting in in the first place. Sealing your ducts, using repellant spray on your outdoor unit, these are all great ideas. One of the best though is to make sure your heating and cooling systems are checked up on regularly by an Austin heater repair and AC repair professional.
AC Express is one such service. We provide Austin air conditioning service and heating in Austin and around, from Buda and Kyle and Leander and Lakeway. If you ever need any kind of heater repair in Austin this winter or AC repair in Austin this coming spring don’t hesitate to call!
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