Mechanical Insights

HVAC Systems and Cicadas

Apr 21, 2021 11:17:04 AM / by Tate Engineering

cicadas blog image

A brood of cicadas will soon be swarming the Mid-Atlantic states, and this means that homes and businesses will be dealing with a lot of loud, chirping insects crawling on every outside surface. The real problems only start there - it gets worse when they start to affect your HVAC systems.

Prepare for the Pests

Cicadas are a threat to your HVAC systems, and during the season when you need it most, you can’t have a bunch of bugs clogging it up. Some preventative maintenance, and preparation now, can help you to ensure that you stay cool and away from the nasty bugs. The following equipment (all parts of your HVAC system) will be the most in need of attention.

Cooling Towers

Your HVAC system’s cooling towers, which are exposed to the open air, are at serious risk of getting clogged with bugs (and yes, there will be large clumps of the dead ones). What does this mean for your system? Lower efficiency, less air flow (and the air that gets in will have gone through dead bugs) and clogged water strainers. In fact, they can actually clog the system up enough to cause issues in only one day - so be ready to clear them out on a frequent basis.

Evaporative Condensers

The condensers are a big part of modern HVAC systems, and extremely helpful in reducing the needed power of, and improving the efficiency of, your overall system. A cicada swarm, especially in large numbers, will block the airflow, clog water strainers and cause major issues with the compressors and motors, which will wear your system down. Not only will the system need more power, it’ll go under more and more strain due to the bugs clogging up essential components.

On top of that, get ready to see clogged heat exchangers - which will mean a tougher time staying cool in the first place. Your system, due to these bugs, will have to strain more and more to properly transfer heat (and you don’t want that in the middle of the hot summer, with all of the equipment at your facility on).

Air Handling Units

Of course these units are one of the most important parts of your HVAC system, especially when you need that fresh, cool air during the summer. If these units get clogged by the cicadas,and the internal filters get filled up with bug parts, you’re looking at IAQ problems - which could be hazardous to the health of occupants.

Related: Why IAQ Is Important When Returning to Work

What to Do

We can’t stop the cicadas from coming (as much as we’d all like to) but we can get our HVAC systems ready now in a number of ways. Setting up protective screens around your outside equipment, especially the intake units and cooling towers, can help to keep the insects from getting in. Consider setting up an additional late spring PM inspection.

You should also frequently clean your HVAC system’s water strainers, and make sure to change your filters frequently (and clear out any dead bugs while you’re at it - do it frequently and they can’t build up).

Related: Do You Know How to Clean Air Filters

Don’t get bugged by the cicadas this summer - stay cool and stay in control with help from Tate Engineering. Give us a call today about your HVAC system, and we’ll be happy to get started preparing you for the worst that the swarm can bring.

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Tags: HVAC, Seasonal, Maintenance

Written by Tate Engineering