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Is Your Dog Damaging Your Air Conditioner?

08/22/16

You’ve heard a lot about the damage dogs can do. So when you finally decided to bring home a pup of your own, you took steps to prepare your property. You carefully covered your furniture. You stocked up on carpet cleaning supplies. And you even set aside a spot in your yard for your pooch to dig freely.

But as you anticipate the messes and spills, don’t forget about your air conditioner. Although your cooling system may seem safe and tucked out of sight, your furry friend can still wreak havoc on your unit in the following ways.

1. Fur Clogs the Filter

Some breeds are notorious shedders. Huskies, malamutes, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds can leave behind enough fur to make a sizeable rug. Even light-shedding dog breeds, such as poodles and Maltese, can cover your flooring, furniture, and bedding in small clumps and hairballs.

But though you may vacuum and brush your pooch constantly, you can bet that some fur will eventually find its way in your air conditioning system. Over time, the fur will clog your filter, severely inhibiting air flow. As a result, your cooling system will have to work harder to pull in outside air, and your unit will become less efficient.

Solution: Replace Filter Frequently

As a general rule, homeowners should aim to replace their filters every three months to ensure their air conditioner stays in good shape. However, if you add a pet to your family, you’ll need to replace it more often. Ideally, you should swap filters every two months if you have one dog or cat. If you have multiple pets or a heavy-shedding dog breed, replace the filter every month.

2. Urine Eats Away the Fins

All dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy. If you have a backyard, you and your pooch may spend a lot of time chasing tennis balls and Frisbees. Additionally, you may encourage your pup to relieve himself or herself outdoors to avoid any accidents on the rug.

Whenever you let your dog outside, however, keep a close eye on him or her. Some territorial dogs will mark every last inch of your property, including the outdoor portion of your air conditioner. As dog urine is high in nitrogen and similar by-products, the chemicals will eat away at the protective outer shell and erode the air conditioner coils. Repeated exposure will often result in refrigerant leaks and permanent damage to your unit.

Other curious pups may see your air conditioner as a potential chew toy. They will bite, nibble, scratch, and chew at the unit until they’ve eaten through the fins, wires, and condensing coils.

Solution: Build a Protective Fence

Now that you own a pet, you have the responsibility to teach your dog how to behave responsibly, indoors and out. As you encourage your dog to play safely, you should train him or her to stay away from your outdoor unit.

If your pup is slow to learn, or if you can’t watch your pooch 24/7, build a protective fence around your air conditioner. The fence should sit at least three feet away from the unit, and you shouldn’t use solid materials (such as thick wooden planks or vinyl panels) that would restrict air flow.

3. Dander Blows Through the Ductwork

While you may have anticipated your dog’s fur, you might not have thought much about your pet’s dander. Pet dander consists of microscopic skin cells, and these cells contain proteins that trigger allergies in those with sensitive immune systems.

Although pet dander doesn’t necessarily damage your air conditioner, the metal in your ductwork does attract the skin flakes and fur. Every time your cooling system turns on, the pet dander recirculates throughout your home, triggering sneezes, runny noses, and watery eyes for your other family members.

Solution: Invest in an Air Purifier

Your air conditioner filter will catch some pet dander, but many skin cells will be too small to stay stuck for long. To clear the air and reduce allergy symptoms, invest in an air purifier that works in conjunction with your HVAC system.

Don’t Wait to Repair the Damage

With these tips, you can prevent pet damage before it starts. However, if your playful pup has already found his or her way to your unit, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for repairs. The sooner you repair your air conditioner, the sooner you and your pooch can enjoy a more comfortable home.

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