What Can Animal Hair Do to My AC Filter?
A family pet is part of millions of families. 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?
A filter is an important part of any forced-air HVAC system. Your air filter captures airborne contaminants, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, stopping them from spreading through the ductwork. AC filters come in many different versions, including fiberglass, pleated and electrostatic. Your filter's effectiveness can be illustrated with its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which could be anywhere from 1 to 20, with higher ratings corresponding to stronger filtration.
An air filter’s key purpose is the protection of the evaporator coil, blower motor and other important parts from dirt and debris that could lead to problems. At sufficient efficiency, the air filter also improves indoor air quality by minimizing particulate matter, which often contribute to allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.
How Does Pet Hair Affect Your HVAC System and Filter?
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 collects inside the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, reducing their efficiency and life span. Hair can also encourage clogs if it interacts with the moisture inside your cooling, creating a breeding ground for microbes like mold, which give off foul odors and lower indoor air quality.
Even with a filter in place, pet hair can still lead to problems. When return airflow draws it toward the HVAC system, the filter does its job by trapping the hair and preventing it from landing on delicate cooling components. That being said, eventually the filter will clog, putting extra strain on the HVAC system. Without exchanging or cleaning the filter, higher energy bills and more repair visits could be likely.
What About Animal Dander?
Pet dander, which consists of tiny skin flakes and saliva particles, commonly exacerbates respiratory problems in people with 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:
- Stick to a regular schedule when cleaning or replacing the filter: Depending on the total number of pets as well as the filter's efficiency, you should try to replace it after 30 to 90 days. Check it every month and replace it when it starts to appear clogged.
- Keep ventilation clear: Pet hair can accumulate on air registers and grilles, preventing proper ventilation. You can clean them 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.
- Groom your pets: Regular brushing and bathing reduces the hair and dander your pets generate. Brush your pets outside when possible and sweep the area after you've finished to keep any hair from getting back inside.
- Consistently vacuum and dust: Pet hair can be found in pretty much every room of a house. A lot of it settles on surfaces around the house. Proper cleaning should include vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and washing any pet beds.
- Clear the area around the outdoor unit: Central HVAC systems need an outdoor unit fixed to a concrete slab outside your home. Clear away any accumulated debris, including pet hair, grass clippings, dead leaves and similar materials. This helps maintain consistent heat transfer for more efficient operation.
- Keep up with routine AC maintenance: An HVAC technician should inspect and maintain the air conditioner annually, preferably in the spring. They'll know how to identify and fix small issues, keep internal components clean and share advice on keeping your air conditioning running efficiently with pets.
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