Rodent Proof Ductwork: How To Keep HVAC System Critter-Free

Rodent Proof Ductwork

Performing rodent-proof ductwork procedures isn’t only for homes with critter infestation. 

Even if you’ve NEVER had a single rodent damage or signs of mice or rats in ducts, you can still shield your duct systems for prevention.

Because ductwork is one of the first places rodents will sneak into once they access your home. 

They love these tight spaces because they are good transit systems for their dirty deals while avoiding getting spotted. 

Once they take refuge, they will start breeding, nibbling on anything they can find, including your air ducts and the insulating material covering it –compromising your HVAC system’s performance.

Well, I’m here to help!

I will show you how to read signs of rodent infestation (if any), eradicate the existing infestations, and do rodent-proof ductwork for the first time. 

Understanding The Importance Of Rodent Proof Ductwork

We have discussed rodents damaging the ducts, but that is not even the worst-case scenario. 

This is:

Rodents aren’t the most hygienic animals. They harbor harmful germs and spread diseases like hantavirus and Salmonella. 

They are detrimental to your health and the entire household. Hence, if they enter your ductwork, they will contaminate it, deteriorating indoor air quality. 

That is why having a critter-free HVAC is SO imperative. 

You might sit here and argue your home doesn’t have mice or probably feel reluctant about the decision. 

Here is a shocking research that further proves my point: 

According to Pestworld

You are not the only one with a rodent infestation. About 21 million homes in the U.S. are invaded each winter. Mice also have BIG appetites, eating about 15 and 20 times daily. They also spread more germs than you can imagine, carrying over 200 human pathogens!

Pestworld

So not only your HVAC systems but your entire household isn’t safe. 

Signs Of Rodent Infestation In Your Ductwork 

Rodent Proof Ductwork
Credits: SOORACHET KHEAWHOM/Shutterstock

It isn’t always easy to tell if you have mice or rats in ducts. That is because you barely see them. 

However, there are tell-tale signs you may have rodents in your ductwork:

  • Hear Unusual Noises: You ALWAYS hear scratching, scurrying, or gnawing in the ductwork and attic, especially at night. 
  • Catch A Whiff Of Foul or Putrid Odors: Rodents presence has this awful musky odor, which is a result of their droppings, urine, or dead pests they use as food. And your air ducts will help circulate the conditioned air. 
  • You See Their Droppings: This clearly signifies a rodent infestation. Their small, dark droppings are like their logo, their identity. 
  • Nesting Materials And Gnaw Marks: Rodents will tear and use your insulation, fabric, papers, and other materials to build their nest. So, see if you can find shredded material in the ducts or near the vents. Also, check for gnaw marks. 
  • Visible Rodents: At some point, the rodent will grow enough balls to come out more often in search of food. You might catch them red-handed entering or exiting vents or duct openings. 

Aside from these, you might experience certain allergy symptoms or breathing issues. That is because rodents bring in a host of germs and spread disease. You may have contacted it. 

And since rodents are fond of tampering with wires, blocking, or damaging ducts, your HVAC system might have been compromised. 

 

Eradicating Existing Infestations: Steps To Rodent Proof Your Ductwork

Once it is confirmed that mice might be in your duct, start responding immediately. 

First is to arm yourself with these tools below: 

Things You Might Need While Rodent Proofing Ductwork

  • Mice trap
  • Bait (bacon, cheese, peanut butter)
  • Flashlight
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic disposable bags
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Fine wire mesh
  • Vertical louvers
  • Air vent and flue covers

1. Getting Rid of Rodents

The first line of action is getting rid of any existing rodents. That is the ONLY way your ductwork could ever heal. 

You can’t do it by chasing after them. Instead, you bait them. 

Rodents might be tricky but they aren’t smart enough to resist food. 

First, turn off your HVAC system. Let it cool completely. Take off the vent covers and load the mice traps with some baits –cheese or peanut butter. 

Place the traps in each vent and check occasionally. If it is mice glue traps, check every morning, get rid of the stuck, and place it back in. 

Ensure you’re putting on your gloves and wash your hands soon after. 

Repeat this process until you are certain not a single rodent is left. 

WARNING! 

Never try to eliminate them using pesticides or rat poison, as they could die within the ductwork. 

Locating them would be another mighty challenge. Moreover, the pesticide could circulate in your home through the ducts. 

2. Clean the Ducts

You don’t just rodent-proof the ductwork; you MUST disinfect it. 

I prefer asking a professional for the dirty job since they have the tools and equipment to properly clean up any remnant and apply some biocides to kill germs.

I won’t recommend you take the DIY route. You will be forced to use a vacuum, which is a terrible idea. 

The vacuum will move around the mouse dander, bacteria, mold, and other contaminants within the space instead of eliminating them. Plus, you will be inhaling all those particles. 

3. Repair And Seal All Entry Points

Now, it is time to prevent further incursion. 

Use your flashlight to investigate all their entry point. They must have nibbled the air duct, wires, or insulation material. Get them patched up immediately using a foil tape or duct sealant. 

Foil tape is more of a temporary solution. So I’d rather you go with the latter. 

Apply the sealant to the holes or gaps using a putty knife or paintbrush. It will harden after it dries.

Do not hesitate to buzz the HVAC if the damage is severe or the entire ducting needs to be replaced.  

Inspect any holes or cracks within the intake vents and exterior air vents. Go further to parch any around the doors, window frames, walls, pipes, fireplaces, and roof rafter. 

4. Focus On Regular HVAC Maintenance

A tight HVAC maintenance routine could also help shield your ductwork against rodent infestation. 

YES, it can be tiring at times. But it is worth the sweat. 

Keep the HVAC unit clean, trimming any vegetation that might lure rodents to cozy in or nest around your air conditioner. Dripping or standing water is another attraction for rodents and other critters. 

Hence, no rainwater should form puddles. 

Furthermore, scheduling for servicing could also help detect early infestation or any pest activity within the duct system and vents. 

Conclusion

So that is how you protect your investment! 

It can be a bit hectic, but if done properly, as discussed above, you will enjoy efficient heating and cooling by rodent-proofing your ductwork. 

If using these strategies as a long-term prevention, you can skip the whole mice trap and bait thing. 

Start by inspecting and sealing any possible entry point around the plumbing line, chimneys, vents, and whatnot. 


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