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.  

Unfortunately, pet hair can adversely affect your air conditioning system. But with routine maintenance, you’ll help preserve steady airflow and protect the cooling equipment from harm. 

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

Your air filter is a key component of the HVAC system. It captures airborne particles, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, stopping them from spreading through the ductwork. 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. An efficient enough filter also improves indoor air quality by keeping particles out of your indoor air, which could lead to allergies, asthma attacks and other breathing problems. 

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

While animals are shedding, their hair becomes airborne and can eventually get into the HVAC system through the return air ducts. Without a filter installed, pet hair collects inside the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, reducing their efficiency and life span. 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 with a filter in place, pet hair can still lead to problems. When return airflow reaches the main HVAC system, the filter does its job by trapping the hair and preventing it from landing on vulnerable cooling components. That being said, eventually the filter will clog, putting extra strain on the HVAC system. Without intervention, high energy bills and frequent breakdowns may be right behind. 

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 

You can take steps to maintain the efficiency of your air conditioner, 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 may need a new filter every 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 collects on the air registers and grilles, reducing airflow. 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 in the air ducts 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 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 in corners. Proper cleaning should include vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and laundering your pet’s bedding. 
  • Don’t let debris collect near the outdoor unit: Central HVAC systems need an outdoor unit fixed to a concrete slab somewhere along an exterior wall of the home. Clear away any accumulated debris, like pet hair, grass clippings, dead leaves, and other forms of yard waste. This encourages normal heat transfer for more efficient operation. 
  • Keep up with routine AC maintenance: Ideally, your local HVAC professional will inspect and maintain your cooling system once a year, preferably in the spring. They can find and resolve any small issues, clean internal components and share advice on keeping your air conditioner running efficiently with pets. 

Call for Indoor Air Quality Services 

When you’re tired of excess pet hair affecting your HVAC system and indoor air quality, look to for expert advice and solutions. We can direct you to the right 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 whatever it takes to keep getting the most from your air conditioning. 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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