You need a strategy for HVAC maintenance if you have pets. The simple truth about pets is that they make your heating and cooling systems work harder than average. Fur and dander enter vents in your home. While many people assume that your pet needs to be a certified “puffball” to clog up your HVAC system, the truth is that cats and dogs with thin and medium coats can drastically affect the performance of your home’s heating and cooling mechanics. These pets also drastically impact your home’s air quality. Even a hamster has enough fur to make a difference over time!
“Pet dander and other pet allergens may linger in the air for a longer time than other allergens,” according to the American Lung Association. This happens because dander particles are microscopic, jaggedly shaped particles that stick to surfaces easily. Exposure to pet dander can trigger:
- Dermatitis (skin rash).
- Sore throat.
- Red eyes.
- Hoarse voice.
- Asthma symptoms.
Pet fur and dander passively travel through your home on any given day. Running around the house, rolling on carpets, and cuddling on couches are all major dander spreaders. When you clean and brush your pets, you’re sending out clouds of pet debris that roll through the home. The good news is that you don’t have to say goodbye to good air quality in your home for Fido’s sake. There are plenty of easy HVAC maintenance tips for pet owners to follow for freshness. Follow these six proven tips for better indoor air quality all year long when you have pets in your household.
1. Change Your HVAC Filters More Frequently
Pet owners don’t get as much life out of their filters as people who don’t have pets. Your HVAC filters act as barriers between the inside of your HVAC system and the environment inside your home. They filter out dust, debris, dander, and pollen that act as irritants and allergens. In addition to keeping your home cleaner, filters also help your HVAC system to run more efficiently. While you may frown upon the idea of spending money on changing your filters frequently, you’ll actually save on energy costs when you keep your filters cleaner by replacing them more often. The amount of time you can get from each filter varies based on your HVAC system type, the number of pets you have, and the quality of the filters you’re purchasing. However, a home with pets may get about half as much time from a filter as a pet-free home. You may also find that certain periods of the year require more filter changes than others. For instance, filters can clog up much faster than usual when dogs shed their fluffy winter coats in the spring.
2. Consider Using Better Air Filters
Have you been “just getting by” with the cheapest air filters for your HVAC system? Your constant sneezes don’t lie. It might be time for an upgrade. Every HVAC air filter comes with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating that helps to compare the performance of different filters. A low MERV rating indicates lower filtering power. A higher MERV rating indicates better filtering power. If you have a standard modern home, MERV ratings between 5 and 8 are usually appropriate. However, upgrading to a MERV rating between 10 and 12 can help to trap smaller particles that are moving through your home’s air vents.
3. Vacuum Your Home Frequently
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your pet “doesn’t shed that much” if you’re not noticing balls of fur all over the house. However, pet hair and dander are often lingering on surfaces in your home that may not be overly obvious. Pet debris that rests on floors, couches, furniture, and carpets will eventually become airborne if you don’t remove it. Daily vacuuming can help drastically reduce the amount of pet debris that makes its way into your vents. Even the busiest of pet owners should at least be vacuuming one to two times per week. Don’t forget to use “edging” techniques focused on vacuuming all four corners of a room to get hard-to-reach fur that has nested into the sides of baseboards.
4. Groom Your Pets Regularly
Fur that falls off your pet is fur that you can’t control. You can avoid excess pet hair floating around your home by grooming your pet regularly. This allows you to gather excess fur in one spot instead of simply waiting for it to shed. Both at-home and professional grooming can be effective. Vacuum the area immediately after every brushing session when grooming your pet at home! If possible, perform pet grooming on an outdoor patio or porch.
5. Protect Your HVAC Unit From the Outside
This is one of the most overlooked tips for keeping your indoor air quality fresh when you have pets. If your pet spends a significant amount of time outside, you’ll need to take measures to prevent your pet from urinating on your outdoor HVAC unit. The easiest way to prevent this type of situation is to build a simple fence around the HVAC unit that prevents contact with your pet. Just make sure to install the fence at least 3 feet away from the unit to allow for proper ventilation with steady flow! “Boxing in” your outdoor HVAC unit can actually slow down performance. If you prefer, you can also plant hedgerows around your HVAC unit as a way to deter a pet from getting too close. However, the rule of keeping 3 feet of space for ventilation also applies when using greenery for fencing.
5. Keep Your Air Ducts Pristine
Think of your air ducts as the arteries of your HVAC system. As anyone knows, a clogged artery can be deadly. Clog ducts make it impossible for air to flow through your vents effectively. An unobstructed, clean path is needed in order for fresh, healthy air to circulate through your home. Pets cause ducts to get clogged faster than usual. If you have a pet, air ducts should be thoroughly cleaned at least once every three years. Consider cleaning ducts more frequently if you have several pets in your home.
6. Don’t Skip Routine HVAC Maintenance
The truth is that it’s easy to start to think that poor air quality is normal if we live with it long enough. That’s why pet owners need the objective opinions of HVAC professionals. The need for routine HVAC maintenance isn’t something that’s specific to households with pets. HVAC maintenance is designed to:
- Inspect the overall performance of the unit.
- Help your HVAC system run as efficiently as possible.
- Repair any small issues that could impact system performance.
- Identify potential issues that could lead to serious problems.
- Ensure that a system is running safely.
- Assess the need for updates or replacements.
HVAC technicians can also provide household-specific tips for taking care of your unit if you have pets. If you follow all of the tips above, you just may find that your HVAC tech will have no comments other than hearty “congratulations” on maintaining your system so beautifully! Stay on the ball with HVAC maintenance in your home with help from Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning. Our experienced technicians can perform annual inspections and maintenance to help you get the best performance possible. We can also rush into action if you suspect a problem with your HVAC system that has nothing to do with your pets. Keep a happy, healthy household for both humans and pets by booking your appointment with Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning today. Contact us online!