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? 

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, keeping them from reaching other rooms or areas of the property. Various designs can be used effectively, including fiberglass, pleated and electrostatic. A filter’s effectiveness depends on its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which could be anywhere from 1 to 20, with higher ratings indicating better filtration. 

The primary purpose of an AC filter is to protect the evaporator coil, blower motor and other delicate hardware from dirt and debris that could cause damage. At sufficient efficiency, the air filter also improves indoor air quality by reducing particulates in the air, which can cause allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues in sensitive individuals. 

How Does Pet Hair Affect the Air Filter of My HVAC System? 

When pets shed, their hair becomes airborne and can eventually get into the HVAC system through the return air ducts. Without a filter installed, pet hair accumulates within the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, potentially stopping them from working efficiently. Hair can also mix with condensation formed during air conditioning, creating a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can produce foul odors and lower indoor air quality. 

Even when the filter is already in place, pet hair can still lead to problems. When return airflow draws it toward the HVAC system, the filter traps the hair and prevents it from landing on vulnerable cooling components. At the same time, this quickly clogs the filter up, putting extra strain on the HVAC system. Without exchanging or cleaning the filter, you may experience higher energy bills and more frequent breakdowns. 

What About Animal Dander? 

Pet dander, consisting of small skin flakes and saliva particles, is a common allergen that causes 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 type of filter and how many pets you have, you might need to replace it every 30 to 90 days. Take a look at the filter each month and replace it if you notice weaker airflow or can see evidence of a clog. 
  • Periodically clean the return air ducts: Pet hair collects on the air registers and grilles, reducing airflow. Trying cleaning these using 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 minimizes the hair your pet leaves behind. 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: Not all pet hair ends up in the HVAC system. A lot of it settles on surfaces or under furniture. Keep up a regular cleaning routine that includes vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and washing any pet beds. 
  • Keep the area around the outdoor unit clear: Central air conditioning systems come with an outdoor unit fixed to a concrete slab just outside the home. Keep the area around this unit free of debris, like pet hair, grass clippings, dead leaves, and similar materials. This helps maintain consistent heat transfer for more efficient operation. 
  • Schedule regular maintenance: An HVAC technician should inspect and maintain your air conditioning system every year, preferably in the spring. They’ll know how to identify and fix small issues, clean key components and offer tips to keep your air conditioner running efficiently with pets. 

Call for Indoor Air Quality Services 

If you want to minimize the impact your pets have on your HVAC system and indoor air quality, look to for tailored solutions and top-notch customer service. We sell and service many quality indoor air quality products designed to minimize pet hair and dander, including high-end air filtration, whole-house ventilation and air duct cleaning. We’ll do our best to maintain your HVAC system’s performance and energy efficiency. You can rest easy with the knowledge 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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