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Dogs are Not an Air Conditioner’s Best Friends

As we close up our houses for air conditioning season, we need to consider the relationship between our dogs and our HVAC system. There are a number of ways that Fido impacts the functioning of your air conditioner but, fortunately, most are easily dealt with.

Inside your home, fur and dander can become an issue especially since dogs shed more of both during warmer weather. Fur can clog an HVAC system by getting caught in filters which reduces efficiency because a dirty filter makes your air conditioner work harder. Dander is tiny flakes of your dog’s skin that become airborne and are pulled into the HVAC system. While it is more difficult to trap than hair, pleated, HEPA filters can be effective at combatting dog dander.

You’ll want to replace or clean filters more regularly than the manufacturer’s recommendation when living with furry friends. You can also give your dog regular baths and brush him – outside! Well-groomed dogs will leave less hair and dander to be circulated into your HVAC system. It is also recommended that you clean and seal your home’s ducts to ensure clean air circulation. Oh, and Fido will survive with an AC setting of 83 degrees when you are away from home so your system isn’t constantly running.

Outside your home there are multiple ways dogs can negatively impact your air conditioner. Dog urine is corrosive. It contains chemicals that eat away at softer metals and cause damage to the aluminum fins and copper coils. You may see signs of damage, like erosion, on the metal fins. Damaged fins will cause your AC to work harder which will cost you more money.

When Fido uses your outdoor air conditioning unit as his toilet, his urine cannot only cause the metal of the condenser unit to be eaten away but can also get through the grates to the coil. The fan can suck the urine in through the coils and cause unseen damage. Corrosion on the refrigerant coil can cause a freon leak. If you think the outside unit has been affected by dog urine, you should have it professionally cleaned and assessed for any damage.

To discourage marking of the outside unit, put up a barrier that doesn’t impede airflow and allows room to access the unit (3 feet, minimum). You can plant bushes or put up a non-solid fence. If you install a fence, remember to include a gate that allows access for cleaning, service and winter covering. If you have a new outside unit installed, ask about a wall rack that situates the unit above a dog’s pee range or the feasibility of placing the unit outside of the dog’s fenced in area.

Dogs may also claw the outdoor unit, especially if chipmunks or some other fun rodent use it as a safe space. When doing this, dogs may injure themselves or damage the unit – another great reason to erect a barrier to keep them away. Also, dogs playing near the outside air handler can kick up dust that gets pumped into the air conditioner and spreads through the house. So best to eliminate Fido’s access to the area in general.

One more outdoor danger are the wires leading from the air conditioning unit to the house. Puppies, especially, may be tempted to chew on exposed wires. Secure loose wires and protect exposed wires by enclosing them in conduit.

For more information on dogs and air conditioners or to schedule an air conditioner inspection, contact us today!