Three Ways Pests Can Harm Your Air Conditioning System

Keeping your air conditioner in good shape starts with preventative maintenance, but that includes more than just getting your condenser cleaned and your coolant refilled. One major problem an HVAC system can face is the intrusion of pests, which can affect systems new and old. There are three main ways pests can harm your system and your home, and how you can stop them.

Damage To Your AC Components

All things considered, your air conditioner doesn't have a large number of components; this makes keeping track of things easier, but it also means that damage to any one part can have a more severe impact on the whole system.

  • The first component that can suffer pest damage is your condenser, which provides shelter from the elements and heat for cold-blooded creatures like snakes, making it an appealing target for all kinds of creatures.
  • The next is all your electrical components, such as all the cables and wires inside and outside your condenser, including the fuse box if it isn't properly protected, as well as your circuit breaker.
  • The third is the ductwork inside your home that pushes cold air into every room.

Pests can damage these components by gnawing on them, breaking wires, creating holes in your ductwork, or simply damaging parts like your fan motor by making nests inside your condenser. 

To keep pests out of your system as best you can, make sure you have an undamaged condenser grille with fins narrow enough to keep out most animals. Replace or repair this grille if necessary. You can also put protective coverings over any exposed wires or cables to prevent any creatures from chewing on them. Finally, test your ductwork for holes or gaps, and try to repair them no matter how small they are; holes present appealing targets for pests to chew on to make bigger to provide access.

Reduction In Air Quality

Since your air conditioner is responsible for pushing air you breathe into your home, any intrusion of pests can have a detrimental impact on the quality of that air. If any creatures like rodents make it into the ductwork to reproduce, make nests, leave detritus, or even die, you may notice foul odors coming from your vents. For some, the presence of pests can trigger allergic reactions. Creatures in your system can also leave microbiological contaminants, which may be harmful to breathe.

This doesn't mean that all foul odors are dangerous, but it does mean that getting unwanted creatures in your air conditioning system is at the very least inconvenient.

The best way to prevent this is to keep pests out in the first place by using the methods described above, but you might also consider hiring someone to inspect and clean your ductwork. A general pest control professional may also be of use. Not all pests will live directly in your system, so signs of an invasion might not be immediately noticeable if you aren't looking anywhere else. A professional inspection can help ensure you're breathing quality air, and lower the risk of any creatures getting into your system.

Access To Your Home

One last unfortunate reality is that, if pests have access to your air conditioning system itself, they thereby have access to your home via its ductwork and vents. Beyond letting creatures into your home, this may also encourage future pests to make their home in your system as well, especially if they have easy access to food once inside your home. More determined creatures may cause damage to your vents if they decide to make a larger opening for themselves.

One way to prevent this is to replace your vents with those that have narrow grilles, just like with your condenser. Metal vents are also sturdier than other materials, and can act as a greater deterrent. Make sure they're screwed in tightly to avoid any gaps. Finally, do your best to keep your vents and ductwork inhospitable. Keep them clean, and if necessary, place traps underneath floor vents to take care of any creature that may be using that vent as a transit point. You can also use packing tape on vents that are harder to reach.

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