Do Roaches Like Air Conditioning? A Tampa Tech Answers

July 24, 2018

They go by many names: Palmetto bug, Croton bug, waterbug and cockroach.

But no matter what you call them, roaches are a nuisance—and the last place you want them is inside your home.

So you’ve seen the roaches near your air conditioner (or coming out of your air vents), and you’re wondering if these little creatures like your AC for some reason.

Well, the short answer is yes: roaches do like air conditioning systems.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  1. Why roaches like air conditioning

  2. What to do if you have roaches in your AC system

Why roaches like air conditioning

Your air conditioning system offers 4 things that attract roaches:

  • Moisture

  • Shelter

  • Temperature

  • Food

Let’s look at each of these roach necessities in more detail…


Roaches (like many critters) need water to survive.

And here’s the thing: Your AC always has water near it.

You see, in addition to cooling your home’s air, your air conditioner also removes moisture from warm, humid air (the process is pictured below).

condensation process air conditioner

AC condensation process

How the AC condensation process works:

  • Moisture is extracted from your home’s air (via the evaporator coil) and drips into the drain pan

  • Once enough water collects in the drain pan, it exits your home via the condensate line  

Since water is always sitting in the drain pan and it’s constantly flowing through the drain pipe, it’s an open invitation for roaches to take up residence in your AC system.


Roaches also need shelter. And they prefer living in dark spaces, which is why you’ll often find them in crevices like drawers and cabinets in your home.

Since your air handler (the indoor part of your AC system) is located in a dark attic or closet, it provides shelter for roaches away from the outside elements and away from human disturbance.


Roaches thrive in temperatures from 77° F to 86° F.

The unconditioned space where your air handler is housed (attic or closet) often falls within this temperature range.

When temperatures rise or drop from that range, roaches will often migrate into conditioned spaces inside your home where it’s a more comfortable temperature for them.


Roaches are omnivores, meaning they eat almost any organic matter.

Organic matter roaches will eat include:

  • Hair

  • Human dander

  • Dry skin

  • Decaying matter

  • Even their own feces (ewww!)

Your AC system sucks in your home’s air to be cooled, which means it can also suck in that organic matter. While your air filter should catch a lot of that matter before it circulates into your home again, some of that matter sneaks into your AC system. And until you change your filter that matter is just sitting there for the roaches to eat.

What to do if you have roaches in your AC

If you have roaches living in your air conditioning system, we’ll cover a few steps you should take:

Step #1: Make the inside of your home roach-proof

You don’t want roaches migrating from your AC system into your home.

So, make your home roach-proof by following these points:

  • Turn your thermostat below 77° F. Roaches hate the cold. So if you drop your indoor temperature below 77° F, that will dissuade the critters from entering your home. Sure, your energy bills may go up a little bit, but it may be worth it to keep the roaches out.

  • Close doors and windows and sealing openings with caulk so the roaches can’t enter your home.

  • Clean your home regularly. That means wiping off surfaces where food may have spilled and sweeping away crumbs off of the floor.

  • Store food instead of leaving it out.

  • Fix sources of leaking water like plumbing pipes.

Step #2: Clean your AC

This is where you need an AC professional’s help.

If you haven’t done so recently (within the last year), contact an AC professional to perform a maintenance tune-up. During a tune-up, a tech will clean your evaporator coils so that organic matter doesn’t build up around your AC. This will reduce the roaches’ food source.

Step #3: Make sure your condensate line isn’t blocked

If your condensate line is blocked, you’ll get pools of water around your indoor air handler (see image below).

clogged condensate line AC roaches

A clogged condensate line

Remember: Sitting water is an open invitation for roaches to take up residence.

If you see water around your AC, contact an HVAC professional to clear the condensate line to eliminate standing water.

Related reading: Is Your AC Leaking Water Inside? Here's Why

Step #4: Hire a pest control specialist

If you have a roach infestation issue, you should hire a pest control specialist to safely spray your home. This will kill the roaches and prevent them from breeding.

Live in Tampa and have roaches in your AC?

We can help.

We’ll make sure your AC is clean so those pesky insects stop taking up residence inside your system.

We offer…

  • 24/7 cooling service

  • Clean techs—we use gloves, shoe covers and drop cloths when we enter your home

  • On-time service (if we’re late, we pay you $100)

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