The latest stats that I could find says that Americans spent $72 billion (with a “b”) on their pets in 2018, according to the American Pet Products Association. We love our pets, whether it’s a dog, cat, guinea pig, or other furry cuddler.
Just like our favorite pets require special care, including annual check-ups with the veterinarian, vaccines to prevent illness, and proper nutrition, homeowners with pets need to be cognizant of the special treatment our home’s HVAC systems require when we co-inhabit our structures with these great domesticated creatures.
Pets can have a fairly serious impact on the indoor air quality and HVAC efficiency of your home. Pets can release fur, or dander into our indoor environment, and they can track in contaminants from outdoors. Follow the tips in this article to find out what actions you need to take to protect your home’s HVAC system from the potential issues with pets.
Inspect and Replace Filters. FREQUENTLY
Again with the filters! Yep, we preach about furnace filters because they provide relatively cheap protection for our relatively expensive HVAC systems. Other than a roof, your home’s heating and air conditioning will probably be one of the biggest expenses when it comes time to replace. Regularly changing filters can be one of the best preventative measures to extend the life of your furnace and to allow it to run more efficiently.
When should you change your HVAC filters? It depends. Normally, we recommend you check them monthly and change then quarterly. If you have pets, especially the long-haired variety, you’ll probably be looking at changing them monthly. The important thing is to actually pull the furnace filter, check it, and replace as needed. We recommend you keep a couple of spares so you can stay ahead of that curve.
One way to improve the function of your furnace filter is to upgrade to a better filter. Those cheap, department store variety fiberglass furnace filters aren’t the best. That’s why they’re so cheap. Opt for a better quality, pleated air filter with the optimal MERV rating for your home’s HVAC system. If you have household members that have special breathing issues like allergies or asthma, you may want to consider upgrading to an electronic filter or at the very least, running a slightly higher MERV rating. Just don’t overdo… filters that are too dense can actually burn up your furnace’s blower motor faster.
Clean Ductwork is Your Lungs’ Best Friend
Your home has a labyrinth of metal tubes extending throughout the structure whose sole purpose is to provide clean, warmed or cooled air (depending on the season). Unfortunately, those ducts contain a LOT of surface area, plenty of spots for some really bad agents to land and stay. For the family with a pet, that could include fur/hair and dander.
Dander is the real culprit when it comes to allergies and asthma. It is the small particles of skin that animals with fur or feathers shed. People with sensitive breathing issues can exhibit cold or flu symptoms when their bodies over-react to the dander in the air. That ductwork described above is the superhighway that transports pet dander out into the air in the home.
Every time the HVAC system is turned on… which is pretty much year-round in Central Ohio… the pet dander gets stirred up and recirculated through the home.
You can combat the effects of collected pet hair, fur and dander by inspecting your ductwork several times a year. We recommend getting your home’s ductwork cleaned every 3-4 years. If you have pets? Every couple of years, especially if you have family members with breathing issues.
Clean Those Carpets
Carpets collect the nastiest particles that are fed through the ductwork. Those particles settle in the carpet to stay, except when you walk over the carpet and disturb them, causing them to become airborne again. During peak allergy season in the spring and fall, you can track tree pollen and lint in on your shoes, just adding to the lowering of your indoor air quality. Mixed with the byproducts of having animals in your home, this can have a pretty serious impact on the home’s air quality.
Wondering if your home’s air is polluted? Check out this list of common symptoms, many caused by pets living in the home:
- dry eyes
- flu-like symptoms
- irritated nose and throat
Maintaining a clean home by vacuuming frequently and changing those air filters (the filters… again?? C’mon man!) can minimize these symptoms in your family members. If you really want to up your cleaning game, consider a HEPA filtration equipped vacuum cleaner to get a nice deep clean of those carpets. The HEPA filter will capture smaller particles (like dander) that could be literally fouling the air and the heating system in your home.
Get Pets Groomed
Your home stays cleaner when your pet is clean and well-groomed. Experts say you shouldn’t bathe your dog too frequently, and most recommend bathing every three months. Personally, we bathe our dog about once a month, brush her long Golden Retriever fur weekly (outdoors if at all possible) and get her groomed from time to time to ensure we’re not literally breathing her fur. There are even devices you can attach to your vacuum, with a comb attachment, that suck all the excess hair and dander away.
Protect Outdoor AC Unit
Preventing your pet from interacting with your outdoor air conditioning unit helps preserve the equipment AND prevents Fido from being injured. If you have a fenced backyard and your dog roams freely within the yard, consider installing some sort of barrier around the AC outdoor unit, such as a small fence.
Dogs like to “mark” their territory, and often that territory includes the AC equipment. Having a protective barrier will prevent that corrosive urine from causing your AC to fail prematurely.
Of course, be sure you don’t block airflow, but you definitely don’t want animal urine damaging the fins and coils on your outdoor AC unit. A small fence around the unit can also help your air conditioner run more efficiently if it helps shield the unit from the constant sun beating down on it.
Regular HVAC Service
As an HVAC contractor serving central Ohio for nearly 60 years, we know the importance of routine semi-annual maintenance on your home’s heating and cooling system. We typically perform a service in the preseason of an upcoming heating or cooling season, covering AC in the spring and furnaces in the fall. Late summer or early fall is a great time to get a head start on getting that annual heating equipment service completed before we get busy with repairing our customers’ heating units.
If you’ve had us service your HVAC equipment in recent years, chances are you are a member of our service contract program. We will be reaching out to our customers in the coming week to schedule pre-season furnace maintenance.
In review, take care of these items and your HVAC system will take care of you:
- Regularly check and replace filters
- Vacuum Frequently
- Groom Your Pets as Needed
- Protect Your Pet from that Outdoor AC Unit (and vice-versa)
As a pet owner, take advantage of this time of year to get your heating system serviced, but also consider getting your ductwork checked out and cleaned. Your lungs will thank you!
Dor-Mar to the Rescue!
Schedule an appointment for HVAC system troubleshooting or maintenance with us today by using our online contact form, or call one of our seven neighborhood offices listed below. We pride ourselves on our customer-focused service, and our reviews show it.
Dor-Mar…Your Climate Hero!
*Please note: neither the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), nor the manufacturer of our UV-C Devices have officially announced whether UV-C kills the current strain of Corona Virus (COVID-19). We urge you to err on the side of caution until we have a definitive answer, and take other measures to prevent the acquisition or spread of this virus.