What Can Animal Hair Do to My AC Filter?

A family pet is part of millions of families. In fact, pets are usually considered part 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 can ensure adequate airflow and protect the cooling equipment 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. The filter is the primary solution to capture 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. The overall effectiveness of an air filter can be measured with its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which is rated on a scale 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 capable of damaging them. 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 respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.

How Does Pet Hair Affect Your HVAC System and Filter?

While animals are shedding, 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 accumulates within the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, potentially stopping them from working efficiently. Hair can also become clogged with moisture found in the cooling system, 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 isn’t harmless. When return airflow reaches the main HVAC system, the filter captures the hair as it passes, keeping it from landing on sensitive cooling components. At the same time, this quickly clogs the filter up, limiting airflow and placing additional strain on the HVAC system. Without maintenance, higher energy bills and more repair visits could be likely.

What About Animal Dander?

Pet dander, consisting of small skin flakes and saliva particles, is a common allergen that causes respiratory problems in people with 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 when it starts to appear clogged.
  • Periodically clean the return air ducts: Pet hair can accumulate on air registers and grilles, reducing airflow. Trying cleaning these using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner as often as needed. Then, call a professional for cleaning out the collected pet hair, dander and dust in the air ducts every few years.
  • Bathe or brush away excess pet hair: 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: Not all pet hair ends up in the HVAC system. A lot of it settles on surfaces or under furniture. Proper cleaning should include vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and laundering your pet’s bedding.
  • Keep the area around the outdoor unit clear: Central HVAC systems need an outdoor unit fixed 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 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 can find and resolve any small issues, clean key components and share advice on keeping your air conditioner running efficiently with pets.

Contact for Indoor Air Quality Services

If you’re concerned about how your pets are affecting your HVAC system and indoor air quality, turn to for personalized recommendations on the best solution. We offer a range of indoor air quality products best suited for combating pet hair and dander, such as advanced 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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