Ants In Air Conditioner

We have two HVAC systems.  One controls the temperature downstairs, while the other controls the temperature upstairs.

Less than two months ago, I had both HVAC systems cleaned and inspected, so I was shocked when one of them started acting up.  I would turn on the upstairs system, air would circulate, but instead cooling, the room remained warm.  Upon inspection, I noticed that the fan, inside the outside unit, wasn’t spinning.

I called the HVAC company and they sent out a technician.  He inspected the upstairs controller and duct work and found nothing.  He then went outside and removed the protective cover from the outside unit – and found the problem.

All around the “contact” – the little piston-like device that tells the fan to spin – there were ANTS.  Fire ants, to be exact.  The ants were crawling in and around the contact area, and were preventing the contact from making, well, contact.

Apparently, this is a rather common problem, especially in the hot and humid South.  He turned off the breaker to the outside unit, removed all of the dead ants and used a small vacuum to remove the living ones.  He then suggested that I put some granules of fire ant poison, sprinkled around the base of each outside unit.  (I did this as soon as he left.)

The technician recommended treating the area for fire ants two or three times a year.  He also suggested visually inspecting the units once a month or so, especially during the spring and summer.  I asked him why the ants would choose to get inside the unit in the first place, and he suggested that it might have something to do with the slight magnetic field around the copper coil.

For the cost of a service call, we now have ice cold air, no more ants, peace of mind, and a little more knowledge.