What Can Animal Hair Do to My AC Filter?

Pets can be found in millions of homes. In fact, pets are usually considered part of the family, and we want to have them around for many years-->

How Do AC Air Filters Work, and Why Are They Important? 

Your air filter is a key component of the HVAC system. Your air filter captures airborne contaminants, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, preventing these contaminants from circulating in your home. There is lots of variety in the materials they use to accomplish this, 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. 

Your filter is primarily responsible for protecting the evaporator coil, blower motor and other cooling system components from dirt and debris that could cause damage. At sufficient efficiency, the air filter also improves indoor air quality by minimizing particulate matter, which can cause allergies, asthma attacks and similar conditions. 

How Does Pet Hair Affect Your HVAC System and Filter? 

When pets shed, their hair becomes airborne and may gradually reach 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, slowing them down and reducing efficiency. Hair can also mix with condensation formed during air conditioning, creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria that can generate foul odors and lower indoor air quality. 

Even with a filter in place, pet hair can still lead to problems. When return airflow arrives at the HVAC system, the filter captures the hair as it passes, keeping it from landing on sensitive cooling components. However, this clogs the filter more quickly than usual, limiting airflow and placing additional strain on the HVAC system. Without exchanging or cleaning the filter, high energy bills and frequent breakdowns may be right behind. 

What About Animal Dander? 

Pet dander, consisting of tiny skin flakes and saliva particles, commonly exacerbates respiratory problems for those suffering from allergies or asthma. You need a filter with a high MERV rating to effectively capture and remove dander, which is much smaller than pet hair. 

How to Care for Your AC System and Filter with Pets 

You can take steps to maintain the efficiency of your air conditioner, even with pets living in your home. Here’s how: 

  • Stick to a regular schedule when cleaning or replacing the filter: Depending on the type of filter and how many pets you have, you should try to replace it after 30 to 90 days. Keep an eye on it every month and replace it when a clog appears. 
  • Periodically clean the return air ducts: Pet hair can accumulate on air registers and grilles, preventing proper ventilation. 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. 
  • Bathe or brush away excess pet hair: Regular brushing and bathing reduces the hair and dander your pets generate. Keep the brushing outdoors and sweep the area afterward to prevent the hair from getting tracked 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 under furniture. Keep up a regular cleaning routine that includes vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and laundering your pet’s bedding. 
  • Keep the area around the outdoor unit clear: Central HVAC systems need an outdoor unit mounted to a concrete slab just outside the home. Keep the area around this unit free of debris, including pet hair, grass clippings, dead leaves, and other objects. This helps maintain consistent heat transfer for more efficient operation. 
  • Schedule regular maintenance: For best results, have a trusted HVAC technician inspect and maintain your cooling system once a year, preferably in the spring. They can identify and fix small issues, keep internal components clean and provide recommendations about how to keep your cooling system running efficiently with pets. 

Get in Touch with for Indoor Air Quality Services 

If you want to minimize the impact your pets have on your HVAC system and indoor air quality, choose for expert advice and solutions. We offer a range of indoor air quality products to help keep pet hair and dander at bay, including high-end air filtration, whole-house ventilation and air duct cleaning. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep getting the most from your air conditioning. Rest assured that everything we do is backed by a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! To request indoor air quality services in North America, please contact today

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