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 keep them well-cared for.  

However, pet hair usually has a negative impact on the efficiency of your air conditioning system. But if you keep up with maintenance, you can ensure adequate 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. The filter is the primary solution to capture airborne particles, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, keeping them from reaching other rooms or areas of the property. AC filters come in many different versions, including fiberglass, pleated and electrostatic. Your filter’s effectiveness can be illustrated with its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), which ranges from 1 to 20, with higher ratings illustrating maximum efficiency. 

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. An efficient enough filter also improves indoor air quality by reducing particulates in the air, which often contribute to allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues in sensitive individuals. 

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

While animals are shedding, their hair becomes airborne and is drawn into the HVAC system through the return air ducts. When the filter is missing, pet hair accumulates within the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, slowing them down and reducing efficiency. 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 with a filter in place, pet hair isn’t harmless. When return airflow arrives at the HVAC system, the filter does its job by trapping the hair and preventing it from landing on delicate cooling components. That being said, eventually the filter will clog, decreasing airflow and increasing strain on the HVAC system. Without intervention, 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 cause of respiratory problems for those suffering from allergies or asthma. You may benefit from a higher efficiency filter to ensure it can effectively capture and remove dander, which is much smaller than pet hair. 

How to Care for Your AC System and Filter with Pets 

Maintaining an efficient, properly functioning air conditioner is certainly possible, even with pets living in your home. Here’s how: 

  • Stick to a regular schedule when cleaning or replacing the filter: Depending on the number of pets and the filter’s specific design, you may need a new filter every 30 to 90 days. Check it every 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. 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 is a great strategy for reducing pet hair. 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: Pet hair can be found in pretty much every room of a house. A lot of it settles on surfaces or in corners. 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 mounted to a concrete slab somewhere along an exterior wall of 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: An HVAC technician should inspect and maintain your cooling system once a year, preferably in the spring. This professional can identify and fix small issues, keep internal components clean and provide recommendations about how to keep your air conditioner running efficiently with pets. 

Contact 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 personalized recommendations on the best solution. We can direct you to the right indoor air quality products to help keep pet hair and dander at bay, such as advanced air filtration, whole-house ventilation and air duct cleaning. We can also maintain your HVAC system for maximum performance and 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