While pets can make your house a home, they aren’t always good for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (or HVAC) system. We breathe in the air every day, and proper ventilation is critical to home comfort. However, your pet’s dander, hair or fur can wreak havoc on the HVAC system and mess with indoor air quality.
Considering that people spend most of their time indoors, it’s important to have fresh air to keep us healthy and happy, so it’s especially important for pet owners to do regular checks on the systems that process that air. Proper ventilation also can help regulate temperature and control moisture levels, protecting you and your home.
Here Are Some Tips for Pet Owners:
- Maintain air filters: Cleaning or replacing air filters on a regular basis is important, even more so when you have pets. It’s best to change filters once a month, especially if you have multiple animals in your home. Filters tend to clog more frequently in homes with pets. Changing filters often increases the efficiency and lifespan of your system while maintaining proper airflow.
- Groom and bathe your pets often: Not only does grooming help your pet, but it also reduces the amount of hair, fur and dander that can linger in the air and clog an HVAC system. Pet dander is flakes of skin produced by animals. Like dust, it can become airborne and circulate through an HVAC system, causing residents to breathe it in. Dander also can accumulate on surfaces, causing itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing. The more grooming and bathing an animal receives, the less dander and loose hair around the home.
- Use a HEPA filter in your home, especially for family members suffering from allergies. HEPA filters reduce allergens in the air and help extend the life of your system. Invest in HEPA vacuums or filters, electronic air filters or cleaners, or an air purification system to help eliminate allergy-causing pollen and mites from the air. Air cleaners or a thicker filter will pull more dust, pet dander or hair from the air. The type of air filter you choose depends on how sensitive the allergies are of the person.
- Keep pets away from your outdoor air conditioning unit, for their safety and for the life of the system. Some animals like to chew on the wires or will rub against or even urinate on an outdoor unit. Building a small fence around the unit is usually the best option.
- Keep air ducts clean: Air ducts transport the air throughout your home, and if they are filled with dander or hair, it can make it difficult to breathe. Adding air duct cleaning to a regular maintenance plan can alleviate the problem.
- Schedule routine HVAC maintenance: Consider a yearly maintenance plan with your HVAC company. It can save you money and energy while prolonging the lifespan of your system. Proper maintenance will help ensure the unit can heat and cool your home efficiently.
Often, staying indoors can be worse for your allergies than the great outdoors. Your home is filled with items that can elevate symptoms – like fabric-covered furniture and pillows, carpet, tightly-sealed windows, and warm, damp spaces. Indoor pollution can be much greater than outdoor pollution, especially if you have family members who smoke or if you have pets. And because most of us spend a lot of time inside, it’s essential to take inventory to determine where allergens are building up.
It’s always a good idea to hire a professional to inspect and perform maintenance on your HVAC system every spring for the air conditioner and every fall for the heating unit. A professional can inspect and clean the wiring and mechanisms of each of the units and take care of the more challenging maintenance work that the average homeowner should not attempt on their own.