It might start with hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet walking through your air ducts. It’s possible you may even notice a weird smell coming through your vents, or suddenly notice that your system isn’t heating or cooling as well as it once was. Although it’s a fairly rare occurrence, it’s possible that your HVAC ductwork has become home to some unwanted critters! The usual suspects: mice are the most common invaders, but squirrels and raccoons have been known to cause problems as well.
So what do you do if you think there are animals living in your HVAC system?
Confirm The Invasion
It’s usually pretty easy to tell if you have something moving around in your ductwork. If the animals are large enough, you will likely hear them moving around, although mice can make a surprising amount of noise on their own. Another telltale sign is an odor, usually thanks to urine or droppings the animal has left behind. If you notice these issues, then it is likely that you have an animal invasion on your hands.
Call A Professional
Unless you know the animal in the ducts is a family pet (cats have been known to go exploring in air ducts if they can find a way in), it is safer to call in a professional to come inspect the problem and develop a plan for removing the pesky residents who have decided to call your HVAC system home. This is especially the case if you think you may have a larger animal on your hands – no one really wants to deal with a cornered raccoon on their own.
A professional exterminator will also be able to help determine if you have a larger problem on your hands, especially if the culprits are mice. Having rodent droppings in the air ducts is definitely a health problem, but just having a large population in your home can cause air quality problems as well. A professional will be able to develop a plan for getting these nasty critters out of your home for good.
Do a Check for Entry Points
It’s important to do a thorough check of your home to see if you can identify where these pesky critters are coming from in the first place. Any open intake ducts should be covered with wire mesh, to prevent unwanted visitors from exploring and taking up residence. You should also check for small holes or cracks where mice can squeeze through, and fix these areas immediately. Pay special attention to your attics and basements – these are very common entry points for rodents.
Repair Any Holes
Not only should you repair any holes or cracks you find in your home, but also have any holes in your ductwork caused by your unwanted visitors repaired. Mice and squirrels love to chew; if they get into your ducts, they tend to leave behind little holes that can add up to larger energy bills.
Consider a Professional Cleaning
If the animals living in your ducts were there for quite some time, it’s very possible they left behind urine, droppings, and potentially nesting materials. All of these can lead to breathing problems for your family. Once the animals have been removed, consider scheduling a thorough duct cleaning to get rid of anything they may have left behind.
Check Your Motor
Another place animals like to hang out? Your air conditioner’s outdoor unit. This area is usually only a problem during the times of the year where your air conditioner isn’t running, allowing snakes and other small animals the opportunity to set up a home during the winter months. Before you start the motor up for the summer season, take a look inside the unit and do a quick check for anything that might be living in there!
Think you have an animal problem on your hands? Give us a call at (205) 871-8111 and we’ll help you out!