Fido: Family Friend & HVAC Foe
For millions of Americans, pets are part of the family; they help transform a house into a home. However, most pet owners are probably unaware of the extra strain that their lively little pug or beloved Burmese cat can incur on the home HVAC unit. Indoor air quality can be compromised and system efficiency may be impaired by these friendly furballs. Here are some simple methods to make sure a house’s heating and cooling aren’t hampered by pets.
Check your HVAC filter every few weeks to ensure that it’s clean and replace it when necessary. Experts recommend a new filter every 30 - 90 days; though with pets this recommendation falls closer to the 30-day mark. In addition, opt for a filter with a higher MERV rating which better isolates airborne particles, such as dust and dander, as compared to a filter with a lower-rated MERV. (For a detailed commentary regarding air filters checkout our article here.) Bear in mind that a clogged filter will restrict airflow, which decreases system efficiency and causes it to consume more energy.
Air vents and returns cycle the air in your home through the HVAC unit and should be kept as neat as possible. Simply vacuuming the duct covers with a brush attachment, followed by a damp rag wipe-down will help. You may also want to research having your whole duct system professionally tended to by an HVAC tech, utilizing their tools and know-how to thoroughly cleanse the airways. The pros can also detect if there are leaks within the ductwork which will expel dust, pet dander and other particles into the air you breathe. These servicemen can easily seal these leaks to ease air circulation.
Keep your outdoor condenser unit enclosed by employing bushes, security cages, or fencing; anything that will prevent Fido from leaving his calling card on the unit. However, you need to maintain a 2-foot clearance between the condenser and whatever is enclosing it to ensure that airflow is not undercut. Also, secure any exposed wiring. Wires may look chewy and enticing to animals, but could prove harmful in their misapplication.
Clean Your Pet
Not only is good grooming and hygiene important to overall pet health, it will ease the burden on your HVAC system over the long haul. Pet fur can easily transport dirt, pollen, and allergens from outside which eventually get recirculated through the house’s ducts, reducing air quality.
Be vigilant about cleaning living space regularly. Hair and dander abound, especially when shedding season arrives. Keep floors and surfaces scrubbed, and vacuum carpets and furniture to keep this debris quarantined and out of the air.
If you have pets and it’s been awhile since your unit was last cleaned and serviced you may want to schedule an appointment with a reputable HVAC contractor. Not only do they have the proper cleaning equipment and supplies, they can detect whether your system is operating at peak performance so you and your pets are breathing fresh air 24/7.
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