What Can Animal Hair Do to My AC Filter?

Pets are an important part of many people’s lives. In fact, pets are usually considered part of the family, and we want to keep them well-cared for.  

Regrettably, pet hair can adversely affect your air conditioning system. With proper maintenance, you can avoid impacting airflow and protect your cooling system from harm. 

How Does an AC Filter Work, and Why is It So Important? 

Your air filter is a key component of the HVAC system. Your air filter captures airborne contaminants, such as dust, pollen and pet hair, preventing these contaminants from circulating in your home. 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 is rated on a scale from 1 to 20, with higher ratings corresponding to stronger filtration. 

Your filter is primarily responsible for protecting the evaporator coil, blower motor and other important parts from dirt and debris capable of damaging them. An efficient enough filter also improves indoor air quality by minimizing particulate matter, 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? 

As pets shed, their hair becomes airborne and is drawn into the HVAC system through the return air ducts. Without a filter installed, pet hair collects inside the evaporator coil, blower motor, fan blades and other components, potentially stopping them from working efficiently. 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. 

But even if you have an air filter installed, pet hair can still lead to problems. When return airflow reaches the main HVAC system, the filter does its job by trapping the hair and preventing it from landing on delicate cooling components. At the same time, this quickly clogs the filter up, decreasing airflow and increasing strain on the HVAC system. Without maintenance, high energy bills and frequent breakdowns may be right behind. 

What About Animal Dander? 

Pet dander, consisting of small skin flakes and saliva particles, commonly exacerbates respiratory problems for those suffering from allergies or asthma. You need a filter with a high MERV rating to 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: 

  • Change the filter regularly: Depending on the type of filter and how many pets you have, you might need to replace it 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 in the air ducts every few years. 
  • Keep pets well-groomed: Regular brushing and bathing reduces the hair and dander your pets generate. Keep the brushing outdoors and sweep the area afterward to prevent the hair from getting tracked 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. 
  • Don’t let debris collect near the outdoor unit: Central air conditioning systems come with an outdoor unit fixed to a concrete slab somewhere along an exterior wall of the home. Clear away any accumulated debris, such as 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. They can find and resolve any small issues, clean key components and provide recommendations about how to keep your air conditioning running efficiently with pets. 

Contact for Indoor Air Quality Services 

When you’re tired of excess pet hair affecting your HVAC system and indoor air quality, choose for expert advice and solutions. We sell and service many quality indoor air quality products best suited for combating pet hair and dander, like high-efficiency air filtration, whole-house ventilation and air duct cleaning. We’ll do our best to maintain your HVAC system’s performance and energy 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

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