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Ants... In Switchgear.

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Old 07-05-2016, 06:52 PM
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Default Ants... In Switchgear.

Well, when you get older, it becomes more rare that you learn something new.

It's hot in NC and I am working in my shop while building my new house. Soon I feel the shop getting muggy and sure enough air from the AC is not cold. Dang. 93F and my AC guy I know is swamped. So I pull out the screwdriver, flashlight and Fluke meter and head to the condensing unit. Open it up and start checking things out. 240V present at contactor inlet. Contactor coil energized. Contactor armature pulled in, contacts closed. No volts on outlet of contactor. Hmmm. Bad contactor. Oh, and why are ants in the control box? Any food in there? Strange.

So I de-energize the system and start removing the contactor. Ants start flooding out. Weird. So handle them with a can of bug death spray and continue. Get contactor out and contact points are packed with fried and squished ants. Lots of them.

So I cleaned up the contacts and reinstalled. Air back to op status.

Over the last several years I have had a good number of light switch failures in the shop. And now thinking back, there were ants around when I replaced the switches. I sprayed them but did not connect the two observations. Being a shop, bugs in it do not freak me out.

But apparently the ants were the likely CAUSE of the switch failures. It is just that I did not bother doing a post mortem on a 50c switch, and besides, they are glued together. I was blaming the failures on crappy switches.

So if you have electrical gear and see ants crawling around, NUKE 'em!!

Googled "ants and electrical" and first thing that popped up was this:

http://articles.extension.org/pages/...ical-equipment

Who'd a thunk it??
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Old 07-05-2016, 06:56 PM
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That is a pretty common thing here in SC. My Dad had a small lake house. At least once a year, he'd have to call an electrician to deal with that very problem. I have to replace a GFCI Outlet at our weapons range at least once a year, had to replace a switch under my house 2 weeks ago and a co-worker had his AC go out last weekend..............ants. Yep, those little bastards are a pain.
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Old 07-05-2016, 07:05 PM
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yep I have no idea why they are attracted to the electrical field, but they are, and have been as long as I can remember.

water pump contactors ,ACs, level switches,or any other electrical device.
if they can get into it they will. nuke them all
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Old 07-05-2016, 08:41 PM
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Just hope you do not get the invasive crazy ant. Been there, and it was not fun. They don't bite, but they cover the ground by the thousands. Any neaby electrical is at risk.
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Old 07-05-2016, 08:52 PM
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common is sc, I spray the area around the hvac in early spring to keep ants out
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Old 07-05-2016, 09:40 PM
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Same in coastal va. Fought them on contacts of a well pump for years. Spray the ones you see and then I had good luck with the stuff you sprinkle.
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Old 07-06-2016, 03:24 AM
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They invaded the control box for the well just a few weeks back. No open contacts but what they were building in there shorted the start capacitor to ground.....
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:58 AM
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Did any of you see the TV show Zoo last night? They had ants by the thousands attracted to electrical stuff including some underground proton accelerator. And I thought the show was just BS...

But of course the heros saved the world in the end by frying the ants. Is that considered a spoiler?
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob's Cay View Post

But of course the heros saved the world in the end by frying the ants. Is that considered a spoiler?
Only by PETA's standards I would assume.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:42 AM
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Try putting a piece of flea collar in the control box to repel the ants. Advice given to me from a pump service technician. Seems to work.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:49 AM
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I'm going to buy a bag of that fire ant control stuff, the granules that look like kitty litter... And sprinkle it around the condensing unit and around shop perimeter.
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:20 AM
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I've had good luck with Suspend SC as a perimeter treatment on my back porch. The active chemical is deltamethrin.
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Old 07-06-2016, 11:34 AM
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For the "crazy ants" that I referenced above, exterminators like to use Termidor that is marketed for termites. I believe it is because they live underground. I am not sure if this would be helpful for traditional ants.
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Old 07-06-2016, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Corndog38 View Post
I'm going to buy a bag of that fire ant control stuff, the granules that look like kitty litter... And sprinkle it around the condensing unit and around shop perimeter.
Amdro will work, theyll have it up the road from you at HD or I have some if you want to try it.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:22 PM
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When I was a kid, we had a well pump switch that fire ants seemed to love. I cleaned that thing out at least a half dozen times after ants would get in there and cover the contacts. I finally just gooped the cover up with some silicone to seal it up. My dad wasn't too happy but hey, it worked.

Years later, I was talking to a pest control guy and he said the ants were attacked to the ozone generated when the contacts opened. Don't know if it's true or not but it sounds reasonable.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:58 PM
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Another vote for amdro
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Old 07-07-2016, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by OReely View Post
When I was a kid, we had a well pump switch that fire ants seemed to love. I cleaned that thing out at least a half dozen times after ants would get in there and cover the contacts. I finally just gooped the cover up with some silicone to seal it up. My dad wasn't too happy but hey, it worked.

Years later, I was talking to a pest control guy and he said the ants were attacked to the ozone generated when the contacts opened. Don't know if it's true or not but it sounds reasonable.
Had exactly the same problem and explanation. Even had them get into a portable battery jumper sitting on a shelf.
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:56 PM
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Makes a bit of sense since the light switches and AC contactor and water pump contactors open and close often. A little puff of ozone each time.
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