Few things can be more frustrating than turning on your thermostat on the first day of unseasonably warm (or cold) weather only to find out your air conditioner or heater is no longer functioning properly. Although mechanical issues can sometimes arise when an appliance has spent an extended amount of time idle, in other cases, you may find your HVAC issues have a more tangible cause – damage to wires or other internal components caused by the sharp teeth and insatiable chewing urges of rats, mice, and other rodents. Read on to learn more about how rodent infestations can affect your HVAC system, as well as some of your quick (and long-term) fixes for rodent-caused HVAC problems.
What problems can rodents cause within a home's HVAC system?
Although the inside of a home's ductwork (or an exterior air conditioning unit) may not seem like an inviting place for small mammals, the combination of shelter and coated wires can prove irresistible for rats and mice. Many coated wires, like those present inside air conditioner compressor units, are now made from plastics and rubbers derived from soy oil, rather than crude oil; although this manufacturing method is more environmentally-friendly, it can also make your wires a much more attractive food source for rodents.
Even if the rodents residing within your ductwork or air conditioner unit aren't busily chewing through your wires, their nesting habits could be wreaking havoc. Many rodents will place their nests in the corners of ductwork, making it all but impossible for warm or cool air to flow through to your home's vents; not only can this drive up your energy bill, it can put extra strain on your furnace or air conditioner, shortening its expected lifespan.
What are your repair options if you discover a rodent has damaged your HVAC system?
Your approach to this problem should be twofold – first, removing all rodents (and their nests) from your HVAC system, then ferreting out and repairing the damage they've caused. You may want to enlist an exterminator for this part of the process, as efforts to repair your HVAC will be quickly undone once rodents return to their nesting and feeding sites.
Your next step will be to thoroughly clean your ductwork to remove any debris left by the rodents, as well as to check all wiring within your furnace and air conditioner to ensure the wires remain undamaged. Damaged or severed wires can sometimes be spliced together, but this process may require the assistance of an HVAC repair professional like Metro Air.
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