As a pet owner, you’d do anything for your four-legged best friend. You buy them a plush bed to snooze in, toys to play with, and healthy/tasty treats to reward them. And let’s not forget all those excessively hot or cold days when you venture outside to take them on their beloved walk — just so they can get fresh air and exercise.
But how mindful are you of the extra maintenance that’s needed for your heating and cooling systems when you have pets in your home? Most homeowners forget about their HVAC systems — until there’s a problem and the furnace or AC stops working on a very cold or hot day.
Now that summer is in full swing, to help you keep your family, including your “fur child,” comfortable and cool in your home, we’ve put together some simple HVAC maintenance tips.
Tip #1: Change your air filter regularly.
Many homeowners are surprised to find out that all air passing through their vents flows through the same filter. Often, the air filter is installed as part of the furnace. However, even when you’re running your AC in the heat of summer, the conditioned air also passes through this same filter. That’s why it’s critical that you keep it clean and replace it regularly — especially when you have cats or dogs in your home.
The job of the air filter is to prevent airborne materials, such as pet hair and dander, from being blown out through your vents. As time passes, this filter gets dirty and is covered with dust, pet hair, dander and more, making it difficult for air to pass through. When this happens, your cooling system has to work overtime to keep your loved ones comfortable. This doesn’t just mean that you’re increasing your risk of having to deal with an unexpected AC breakdown, but you may also have higher energy bills as a result.
It’s recommended that you replace the filter in your home monthly. If you aren’t sure what size filter you need, can check the specs on the side of your current filter. Write this information down or take a picture of it with your cell phone.
It’s also important to note that while we know you love your pets, you or another family member may suffer from allergies. Pet-related allergies are often made worse from their dander and hair. This is just another reason why it’s so important for you to change your air filter regularly!
Tip #2: Keep your vents clean.
It’s no surprise to any pet owner that when you’ve got a cat or dog living in your home, their hair is going to get…well, everywhere. You likely have to vacuum your furniture, area rugs and even your bedding just to make sure they don’t have an accumulation of pet hair.
But did you know that you should also sweep around the vents in each room of your home? Of course, this is the spot in your room where that wonderful cool air passes through when your AC is running on hot summer days. If the vent is full of cat or dog hair, that hair is also going to get blown out into your living space. This could cause problems for anyone in your family who suffers from pet-related allergies. Not only that, but this pet hair will be blown onto your flooring, furniture, drapes, etc. — the things you already work so hard to keep clean when you have a pet!
Use the hose extension on your vacuum to give your vent a thorough cleaning at least once a week, more often if you have allergy-sufferers or long-haired pets in your home.
Tip #3: Groom your pet regularly.
When you bathe and brush your pet regularly, you can help lessen the amount of shedding. Both cats and dogs shed more during the hotter months since this is how their bodies help them to acclimate to the warm temperatures. Less shedding means less hair getting stuck on your vents and HVAC air filter. Also, when you routinely clean your pet, you can help lessen the amount of dander in your living space.
Tip #4: Be mindful of exposed wiring.
We all know how curious cats and dogs can be. They want to smell, taste and scratch at pretty much anything that seems new or interesting to them. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure you don’t have exposed wires coming from your heating or cooling systems. If a pet happens to chew on these wires, it could cause serious harm (even death) to them. Not just that, but damage to the wiring could cause problems for the overall efficiency of your furnace or air conditioner.
Additionally, outside your home, it may be a good idea to keep a well-ventilated fence around your condenser (this is the part of your air conditioner that’s outside). Keep a minimum of two feet of clearance around the base of the unit so you aren’t restricting airflow. This will help keep curious pets at bay.
If you suspect that your pet has been injured from biting or chewing on exposed wiring, contact your vet immediately as this could be a life-threatening emergency.
Tip #5: Keep your curtains closed.
We know that your pet’s favorite spot in your home may be on the back of a couch or chair so they can look out the window and see your front or back yard…and watch for your mail carrier! However, on really hot days, you may benefit from keeping your blinds closed and your curtains drawn.
Many homeowners are surprised by how much sunlight can get in during the day. These rays can warm the inside of your home by several degrees, causing your AC to run more often than may be necessary.
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