Pets are an important part of many people’s lives. To be honest, our pets are usually considered a beloved member of the family and we want to keep them well-cared for.
Regrettably, pet hair usually has a negative impact on the efficiency of your air conditioning system. With proper maintenance, you'll help preserve steady airflow and protect your air conditioner from harm.
How Does an AC Filter Work, and Why is It So Important?
Air filters are one of the most important parts of any forced-air HVAC system. The filter is the primary solution to capture airborne particles, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, keeping them from reaching other rooms or areas of the property. Various designs can be used effectively, including fiberglass, pleated and electrostatic. Your filter's effectiveness can be illustrated with its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which ranges from 1 to 20, with higher ratings indicating better filtration.
An air filter’s key purpose is the protection of the evaporator coil, blower motor and other delicate hardware from dirt and debris capable of damaging them. An efficient enough filter also improves indoor air quality by reducing particulates in the air, which often contribute to allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.
How Does Pet Hair Affect the Air Filter of My HVAC System?
As pets shed, their hair becomes airborne and can eventually get into the HVAC system through the return air ducts. If there isn't a filter in place, pet hair accumulates within the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, potentially stopping them from working efficiently. Hair can also encourage clogs if it interacts with the moisture inside your cooling, creating a breeding ground for microorganisms which can produce foul odors and lower indoor air quality.
But even if you have an air filter installed, pet hair isn’t harmless. When return airflow draws it toward the HVAC system, the filter captures the hair as it passes, keeping it from landing on delicate cooling components. At the same time, this quickly clogs the filter up, limiting airflow and placing additional strain on the HVAC system. Without maintenance, high energy bills and frequent breakdowns may be right behind.
What About Animal Dander?
Pet dander, consisting of microscopic skin flakes and saliva particles, commonly exacerbates respiratory problems for those suffering from allergies or asthma. Filters with higher MERV ratings are more likely to effectively capture and remove dander, which is much smaller than pet hair.
How to Care for Your AC System and Filter with Pets
Fortunately, it isn't hard to protect the efficiency of your AC, even with pets living in your home. Here’s how:
- Change the filter regularly: Depending on the total number of pets as well as the filter's efficiency, you may need a new filter every 30 to 90 days. Keep an eye on it every month and replace it if you notice weaker airflow or can see evidence of a clog.
- Keep ventilation clear: Pet hair gradually piles up against the air registers and grilles, limiting circulation. Clean these with the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner as often as needed. Then, hire a professional to remove built-up pet hair, dander and dust inside your ductwork every few years.
- Keep pets well-groomed: Regular brushing and bathing is a great strategy for reducing pet hair. Brush your pets outside when possible and sweep the area when you're done to stop hair from just drifting back inside.
- Consistently vacuum and dust: While it affects your HVAC system, pet hair can be found all throughout your home. A lot of it settles on surfaces or in corners. Proper cleaning should include vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and laundering your pet’s bedding.
- Clear the area around the outdoor unit: Central air conditioners feature an outdoor unit mounted to a concrete slab somewhere along an exterior wall of the home. Clear away any accumulated debris, such as pet hair, grass clippings, dead leaves and other objects. This ensures effective heat transfer for more efficient operation.
- Don't ignore preventive maintenance: Ideally, your local HVAC professional will inspect and maintain your air conditioning system every year, preferably in the spring. They'll know how to find and resolve any small issues, clean key components and share advice on keeping your air conditioner running efficiently with pets.
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