January 29, 2018 / Mold Control and Home Care

It Came From The Vent: Why Your Home Heating System Might Be Hiding Pests

It Came From The Vent: Why Your Home Heating System Might Be Hiding Pests

When the weather is cold and you’re looking to heat things up a bit in your home, you’ll probably reach for the thermostat and expect warm air to come out. If you haven’t thought to clean, upkeep, or maintain your ductwork for a while, you may end up instead receiving a nasty surprise - the smell of pests, like rodents, cockroaches, and other heating-system invaders.

As pest experts with a long history of pest management in the northeast, we’ve seen our fair share of pest-affected heating systems. But for those new or busy homeowners who don’t remember to keep things up-to-date, the danger of discovering pests in your ducts after it’s too late is all too real. We can’t stress enough how important regular maintenance is to keeping your heating system pest-free, because there are three key things about any heating system that make ductwork an especially attractive hideout for pests large and small: heat, humidity, and a path the the outdoors.

Whether you’re dealing with a pest problem in your heating system currently or hoping to avoid one in the future, here’s a look at how each of these factors can end up inviting pests to take shelter in your ducts without your ever finding out - and what you can do to keep that from happening.

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Cold Days? Guess Who Else Is Looking To Warm Up

The main that draws pests to your heating system - from rodents to insects to everything that can fit inside - is much the same that draws you to your heating system: the heat it gives off. On a cold winter day, pests will look for the easiest way to get warm, and finding a system that constantly circulated warm air can be a huge windfall for a mouse looking to build a nest or a cockroach looking to set up a colony.

Plus, because a heating system works to consistently push warm air around the house, this can greatly increase the spread of dangerous diseases carried by rodents, insects, and other pests. These bacteria are pushed from room to room, increasing the likelihood of causing sickness among residents in what can be days before the cause of this is even detected.

And pests don’t just have to be inside your ductwork to benefit from the heat given off by your system - often, the walls and insulation directly in contact with your ductwork can experience an increase in temperature as well, meaning any inspection of your heating system should really be comprehensive, looking at all possible hiding places for pests.

One Person’s Humidity Is A Pest’s Drinking Water

As any HVAC specialist will tell you, one of the biggest issues facing homeowners facing heating system issues doesn’t come from the heat itself, but from the humidity it brings with it. Hot air collects and carries moisture from the air withit around your ducts, and in some cases this can condense on walls, grates, and fans in the form of water droplets.

In any small, contained system, moisture build up like this can cause serious problems. First and foremost, mold will make its move. Mold requires moisture to grow and thrive, and the moisture carried by your heating system can offer the perfect delivery system for mold to take hold in wet spots along your ductwork. Plus, because your heating system features frequently-circulating warm, wet air, it offers the perfect method for mold spores to spread throughout your home unabated - and to spread even more sickness to your housemates.

In addition to mold, pests seek out the moisture buildup points along your heating system as a sort of small-scale watering hole, where fresh water is ripe for the taking. This can provide a solid base for everything from a rodent nest to a cockroach colony, each of which require this moisture to grow and succeed.

Luckily, there are solutions. Proper maintenance of filters, as well as frequent filter replacement, can help catch much of that humidity long before it has the chance to gather and condense. Likewise, a reliable dehumidifier can help remove much of the moisture from the air, preventing it from spreading throughout your system and keeping that key source of water for pests away from your heating system.

A Way In - And Out - Even In The Middle Of Winter

The “heat” element of your heating system likely relies on one key factor: combustion. Whether you utilize natural gas, wood, or oil, modern home heaters all rely on combustion to generate the heat that is circulated throughout the house. As with all combustion, the end products are heat, water, and combustion gasses, or the leftover carbon and particulate matter created during burning. This particulate matter needs somewhere to escape to, and almost always this means there’s a vent to the outdoors.

Whether you heating system utilizes a sidewall vent or a roof vent, this opening may be the easiest access into your home for pests looking for a way in. Mice, insects, and other pests that can find their way into your vent may have direct access to your entire heating system, and all they need is easy access through this one otherwise-inconspicuous vent.

Most homeowners know this, and guard against it with screens and mesh guards that prevent even small pests from making their way inside. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your heating system’s ventilation a thorough inspection, you might be inadvertently giving pests an easy way to access your home. With the help of a pest management specialist, you can identify this any any other openings, cracks, or damage to your system that might serve as a way in for determined invaders.

Don’t Let Pests Ruin Your Warm Winter Comfort

The winter season in the northeast is too long - and too cold - to lose your heating system to pests. Instead of waiting until you run into a problem, consider having a pest management expert take a look at your system on a regular basis, which will help monitor change over time and catch issues long before pests have a chance to take root.

Whether you’re looking for air duct cleaning or a partner who knows how to keep your system pest- and mold-free all year round, our pest management experts at JP Pest Services can diagnose your system and recommend personalized plans for upkeep, treatment, and even pest eradication. Get in touch today and start protecting your heating system from those you don’t want getting warm at your expense.

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