As soon as I purchased my first home, I realized that it was going to be difficult to take care of all of the appliances. I was worried that some components would fail or that others would simply suffer from neglect. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do in order to avoid these types of problems. To ward off my worries, I decided to hire a professional HVAC contractor who could help. I was able to find an incredible business in my area who really cared about their products and services. They taught me how to look for problems and how to troubleshoot a lagging system. Check out this blog for more information about protecting your HVAC system.
Animals can wreak havoc on your air conditioning system. The main places where they pose an issue is in the ductwork and in the outside condenser unit. The following guide can help you understand the causes of the damage and methods that you can use to prevent it.
Problem: Animals in the Ducts
Animals like raccoons, squirrels, or mice usually get access to AC ducts via the attic. Once inside, the ducts are like a super highway system through your home, where the pests may follow their nose to find food or a perfect nesting spot. This can lead to a variety of problems. The animals can chew through ducts or damage joints, leading to airflow loss. Bedding and caches of food serve the dual purpose of blocking ducts and attracting insect pests. Finally, if an animal dies in a duct you will end up with a horrible smell throughout the home.
The best prevention is to properly seal your attic against these animal pests. Closing up any gaps on the roof, such as underneath the eaves, and making sure all flashing is secure can keep out squirrels and other small rodents. Also, make sure soffits are fitted with strong metal mesh vents so a squirrel can't chew through. Raccoons are stronger and more persistent, so they may actually try to tear a hole in the roof to get access. Regular inspections for roof damage is the best defense. You should also check from inside the attic on a sunny day. Look for any areas where light shines in, because that is where a pest will find access.
If you suspect an animal is already in the ducts, call your air conditioner tech. They can clean out the ducts and locate any damaged sections. If they find a living animal still in the ductwork, you may also need to call in a pest removal company to work with your AC technician.
Problem: Outdoor Pests in the Condenser
Many animals are drawn to the main outdoor unit in winter because it provides shelter and warmth. Snakes, rodents, raccoons, and even birds may be tempted by the space. Then, when you try to turn it on in the spring, the fan blades become entangled with the animals bedding, or worse, with the animal itself. This may not only be devastating to the animal, it can destroy the condenser fan blades.
Keeping the animals out is the best solution. After turning off the condenser for the winter, check that all the panels are screwed firmly in place. Sometimes screws work loose and a panel can easily be pushed aside by an animal, so it is important to replace any missing screws. You can also place a piece of plywood on top of the unit to help keep animals out, but don't cover the sides. The unit needs air circulation so moisture doesn't get in and lead to mold or rust.
Each spring, open up the condenser before turning it on for the first time. Make sure there are no animals hiding inside. This is also a good time to schedule air conditioning maintenance for the upcoming cooling season.