For most homeowners, the key to keeping everyone warm throughout the cold season is to keep the heat running, and just standing near that heating vent can be a welcome relief from the frosty bite of a chilly afternoon. But you aren’t the only one looking to stay warm; pests love heating systems, and keeping everything from rodents to insects out of your duct work can be a challenge all year long.
1. Check For Cracks and Gaps
The easiest method for pests of all sizes to make their way into your heating system is to simply seek out the largest openings. Often, cracked or damaged vent systems can be the main culprit, offering rodents, insects, and other winter pests the perfect opening to get inside to the warmest areas of your home.
Simply checking the exterior of your vents and ducts for damage may be enough to identify and patch up cracks and holes, helping stop pests before they even get a chance to enter. For damage hidden inside interior walls or in hard-to-reach places within your home, you may need the help of a pest management professional, who may be able to repair the damage or put you in touch with the right HVAC professional to stop those gaps and keep your ducts pest-free.
2. Keep Up With Regular Cleaning & Maintenance
One of the most important methods of pest control for your heating system – and one of the simplest – may just be the most overlooked: regular maintenance and thorough cleaning. Over time, debris, dust, and particulate matter can build up in your heating system. This can cover up damage to your ductwork, and provide the perfect hiding place for insects and rodents to make a home where the hot air is always flowing.
By sticking to a regular cleaning schedule for your HVAC system, you can help identify problem areas and keep everything clean long before pests have the chance to discover a hiding space in your ductwork, which will help prevent pests from getting a foothold and protect your family from the disease and filth that pests can bring with them.
3. Stop Pests With Mesh Screens
Even if your heating system is in top condition and regularly cleaned, insects might still be able to find a way in through small gaps in vents and planned openings. In this case, the best defense against the tiniest invaders might just be a simple mesh screen, with holes small enough to keep pests from making their way in but large enough not to impede airflow for those cold winter days.
Whether you install mesh screens yourself or call on a professional to install them for you, mesh screens places just behind your heating system’s openings – or throughout the heating system itself – can serve as a powerful barrier between your home and the pests looking to get inside.
4. Change Filters Often
Although it’s all too easy to consider your HVAC or furnace filter “out of sight, out of mind,” changing them regularly is a crucial part of keeping your heating system running smoothly and keeping it pest-free. A clogged or old filter will restrict the flow of warm air through your system, which not only hinders the effectiveness of your heating system but will also cause moisture to build up in your ductwork.
Moisture, apart from inviting mold to grow and contaminate your home’s heating system, is also a crucial resource for any pest looking to set up a nest in your ductwork. By allowing your filter to stay dirty, you may be encouraging the buildup of the very moisture that will attract pests in the first place. Change your filter often, and you can keep things dry and uninviting to the average insect or rodent looking to stay warm.
5. Keep Outdoor Units Clean
Because every heating and HVAC system requires some kind of external ventilation, that means there is likely a direct line from the outdoors into your heating system. For pests, this can be a highway right into your home, and failing to keep this outdoor vent or air conditioning unit clean and clear can make entrance for pests that much easier.
Whether it’s keeping grass and shrubs clear from your outdoor unit (from which insects can enter easily) or keeping snow from piling up around your vents (from which rodents can burrow under the snow for access), keeping your heating system’s exterior vents clear and clean is as important as keeping the interior sections clean. Otherwise, you may be providing pests with the perfect entrance route into your home.