Halloween may be the season for creepy critters, but you still don’t want them in your HVAC system. Believe it or not, pests like mice, bees, squirrels, and raccoons like to set up house in your outdoor unit or crawl in through open vents and ductwork. Here are a few tips to keep those creepy critters outside where they belong.
(1) Keep the area around your outdoor unit clear
Your outdoor unit should be elevated and set on a slab, and all grass, weeds, bushes, or other flora should be cut away and kept at least two feet away from your unit. This will discourage insect infestation but also help it run more efficiently by allowing free airflow. Additionally, if you cover your unit during fall and winter, be sure to cover only the top of it, or use a mesh cover to keep debris out of the fan. Otherwise, a full cover can look like an invitation to small furry animals looking for a snug place to live in the winter.
(2) Use mesh over your vents
Vents and flues to the outside are an easy way for insects to get into your HVAC system. You can easily prevent this by installing wire mesh over the entire opening to let air out and keep critters out. Pay special attention to your dryer vents – the lint buildup is attractive to small rodents who like to make nests in it.
(3) Make sure your ducts are sealed
Cracks or holes in your ductwork are the most common way for pests like roaches, spiders, and other insects to get inside. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to fix these openings, and Energy Star has good information on how to maintain your ducts. Sealing your ductwork is not only good for keeping pests out, but it also helps your system run more efficiently and save energy.
(4) Have regular HVAC maintenance
There may be ductwork that is inaccessible, or you may not remember to check everything on your fall “to do” list. These may be more good reasons to have regularly scheduled maintenance on your system by certified HVAC professionals. If you neglect proper maintenance or have an older system, critters – creepy or otherwise – can get into parts of your system, causing damage by chewing through lines, making nests, or even dying because they can’t find their way out. Having a regular maintenance agreement is a practical way to keep everything clean and in good working order.