What Can Animal Hair Do to My AC Filter?

Pets can be found in millions of homes. You probably consider your dog or cat a beloved family member and want to keep them well-cared for.  

Annoyingly, pet hair can be a constant struggle as it affects your air conditioning system. With proper maintenance, you can avoid impacting airflow and protect your air conditioner from harm. 

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

A filter is an important part of any forced-air HVAC system. It captures airborne particles, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, keeping them from reaching other rooms or areas of the property. 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 is rated on a scale from 1 to 20, with higher ratings illustrating maximum efficiency. 

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 breathing problems. 

How Can Pet Hair Impact an HVAC System’s Air Filter? 

As pets shed, their hair becomes airborne and is drawn 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, 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 reaches the main HVAC system, the filter traps the hair and prevents it from landing on delicate cooling components. That being said, eventually the filter will clog, 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 small skin flakes and saliva particles, is a common cause of 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 

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 number of pets and the filter’s specific design, you may need a new filter 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. 
  • Keep ventilation clear: Pet hair collects on the 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. 
  • Bathe or brush away excess pet hair: Regular brushing and bathing minimizes the hair your pet leaves behind. Make sure to handle brushing outside 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 around the house. Proper cleaning should include 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 other forms of yard waste. 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 identify and fix small issues, clean internal components and offer tips to keep your air conditioner running efficiently with pets. 

Contact for Indoor Air Quality Services 

When you’re tired of excess pet hair affecting your HVAC system and indoor air quality, choose for expert advice and solutions. We can direct you to the right 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 can also maintain your HVAC system for maximum performance and efficiency. 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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