mobile navigation
close buttonClose Menu
close buttonClose Menu
pacific heating cooling


(253) 292-3995
close buttonClose Menu


What to Do About Critters in Your HVAC System

by vscontent on February 17, 2017

what to do about critters in hvac and duct systemAs you probably know, animals and HVAC systems don’t mix very well. While you may have been lucky so far, you’d be surprised to find out how many different kinds of critters our technicians have found in HVAC systems—everything from snakes and rats to birds and bats.

If you think there’s a critter creeping around your ductwork or stuck somewhere in your HVAC system, call your local heating and air conditioning technician right away. Not only is it important to remove the animal as soon as possible, it’s also necessary to find and seal the hole where it came in from.

Animal Damage to HVAC Equipment

All animals need food and shelter, so it’s no wonder why critters seek a nice and warm place in your home. One of the main entrance points for animals in your home is gaps near utility lines.

In addition to energy-savings, it’s important to seal the inside and outside of your home to keep critters out.

Regular HVAC maintenance (once in the fall and once in the spring) drastically reduces your risk of any animal infiltrations. Critters can cause hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repair costs.

These are some of the most common problems we find with animals and HVAC equipment:

1. Denizens in the Ductwork

If you have a central HVAC system, then you must have a lot of ductwork in the home to transport the conditioned air (ductless mini-split units have no ducts).

Warm in the winter and cool in the summer, air ducts make a pretty nice home for rodents and other animals seeking a place of refuge. If you want to keep the squirrels, rats, mice, birds, and raccoons out of your ductwork, then you should be aware of some of the warning signs:

  • Gnawing, squeaking, and scampering noises
  • Hole in paper and boxes
  • Smell of urine
  • Small droppings

If you don’t remember the last time you had your air ducts professionally cleaned, now is the time to schedule a duct cleaning and sealing appointment.

Click here to learn how to inspect your air ducts yourself and when you should schedule a professional duct cleaning.

We recommend having your air ducts professionally cleaned at least once every 5 years. If there is a problem in your ducts, the professional technician tasked to inspect and clean your air ducts will find a solution.

If you are thinking about purchasing a new home, make sure  you get professional HVAC and ductwork inspections before you sign any papers (this is in addition to any electrical, plumbing, and other important home inspections).

2. HVAC Annihilation

Besides the live or dead critters that may be lurking in your ductwork, HVAC systems are also known to kill rodents, snakes, and other small animals.

Your heat pump or outdoor HVAC unit is exposed to the outdoors and sometimes animals will choose it as their place of residence. This is a bad mistake made by the critters of course. Most of the time the animals will find refuge when the unit is off, but when the unit kicks back on again, the fan, wires, or other components waste no time in killing any animal obstructions.

Unfortunately, the dead animal parts remain and can cause costly repairs for the homeowner. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular HVAC maintenance so you can catch these problems early.

If you suspect any nests, carcasses, or any other animal byproducts in your heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems, turn off power to your unit to prevent any further damage. Then, call your local HVAC company.

3. Damaged Wiring

Usually, electrical wiring damage is caused by rats and mice, although other critters have been known to cause similar problems. If you have any exposed wires, there’s a possibility that some animals will eventually chew through them.

This is why it’s important to protect the electrical components of your home and to periodically check for damage to your electrical and HVAC systems.

If you have older equipment, your wires may be exposed. Not only does this present a risk due to animal attacks, but you could also experience other mechanical or electrical problems.

If you suspect any animal damage to your HVAC system or home, call the professionals at Pacific Air Systems to conduct a full inspection. We’ll also help you prevent it from happening in the future.

Keep the Critters Out: Prevention Tips

  • Seal air leaks around the home.
  • Weatherstrip all doors and windows, including the garage and basement.
  • Store food in air-tight containers.
  • Sign up for a home maintenance plan.

Related Resources

Pacific Air Systems offers year-round, 24/7 HVAC service.

Contact Pacific Air Systems Heating & Cooling at (253) 292-3995 or book your appointment online!

Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest for more home tips.