Every spring season we receive service calls for pest problems. Some insects, like ants, are attracted to the current and electromagnetic field of your air conditioner’s condenser. Unfortunately for homeowners, bugs can cause a short circuit in your condenser and rack up service call fees. So, what can you do about it?
1. Spray bug repellant
Many homeowners already spray around their houses in the spring to keep bugs out of their homes, so don’t forget to spray around your AC unit as well. Never spray on or in your unit or on electrical components. You can choose from traditional bug repellant products as well as eco-friendly and organic versions now available.
2. Sprinkle boric acid
Another method is to sprinkle boric acid around your unit. The granules stick to insects like ants and they carry it back to their nest. This is not a recommended method if your unit is in an area that your pets or children have access to. Although boric acid is considered less toxic than other chemicals, it should never be inhaled or ingested. Wearing gloves and eye protection is recommended while using. However, boric acid is relatively non-toxic to birds, aquatic life and bees. Be careful around your lawn though, because it can kill grass and plants when used in larger amounts.
3. Make a chalk line
In many cases, ants won’t cross a chalk line. This is the easiest solution if you have pavement around your unit and are worried about other methods that may be toxic to children, pets, or the environment.
4. Plant peppermint or spearmint
Many bugs (including ants) don’t like the smell of mint, although a lot of humans love it! It is sometimes recommended to plant low growing mint around your unit. However, for homeowners in Maryland and warmer climates mint can be invasive. Instead, we recommend planting mint in low, wide pots and placing them near the unit or burying the pots an inch or two above ground level to keep the roots contained. (Bonus! You can pinch a sprig or two for mint iced tea or mint lemonade this summer!)
5. Upgrade to a closed contactor
If this is a recurring problem or if you have replaced your contactor due to pests in the past, we recommend upgrading to a closed contactor. A closed contactor’s internal compressor relay is completely sealed from insects and other debris, making this the most efficient option. It also has additional benefits, like a longer part warranty and built-in compressor protection from circuit overloads, brownouts and short cycling. Contactors should be installed by your HVAC guy, so the initial investment will be a bit more. To decide if this is the best option for your pest problems, weigh the initial cost against the future stress and money you’ll save on service calls in the long run.
How do these methods work for you? Do you have any other tips you’d like to recommend? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!