We rely on our HVAC systems to keep us and all the occupants of our household comfortable. They provide cool air in the hot summers of Austin and heating in the winter. But for many of us, our household isn’t just comprised of people but also our furry family members. This has certain ramifications when you’re considering HVAC and all of its nuances. For example, some people have problems with pet dander that is kicked around the house due to the circulation caused by the HVAC system.
That’s why it’s worth knowing a thing or two about how to better maintain and use your air conditioner and heating when you share your home with pets, specifically cats and dogs. There are a few things to keep in mind that you may not have considered before that are specific to where pet ownership meets HVAC ownership and maintenance. Read on to learn a few handy and helpful tips on the usage and maintenance of heaters, air conditioners, and all things HVAC when it comes to pet ownership. Austin air conditioning and pets can coexist peacefully with a few small considerations.
Filter Out the Extra Hair
One fact is almost universal when it comes to mammalian pet ownership; there will be more hair in your house than usual. One obvious exception to this is of course having a hairless cat, but let’s suppose for the sake of brevity that you don’t have a hairless cat but instead a dog, cat, or several of both. This means there is going to be hair in your house that will eventually make its way to the ductwork. This can spell trouble for your HVAC system and your air quality if not taken care of.
It’s no secret that when dogs and cats shed, their hair finds its way into every nook and cranny of your home. But what you may not have considered is how cat and dog hair affects your HVAC system. As your system sucks in the air, pet hair can clog air filters and decrease the efficiency of your system. This means you’ll use more energy and pay higher utility bills and it may shorten the life of your system as well. That’s something to be avoided. Luckily, there are way to combat this problem from both ends, both on the HVAC side of things and with your pets themselves.
To combat problems with pet hair in your HVAC or ventilation system, establish a routine of regular bathing and grooming of your pet and step up you housekeeping routine, too. Dust, sweep, vacuum and mop regularly to keep pet hair under control and don’t forget to check and replace your air filter frequently. This will keep your HVAC system functioning properly, reduce allergies from pet hair and dander and make you feel more comfortable.
Even better than simply changing your air filter more frequently is to invest in your home’s air quality by upgrading to a HEPA filter. The benefits of switching to a HEPA filter are numerous. HEPA filters are made of densely packed layers of fibers which can capture ultrafine dust and dirt particles. This type of filter is ranked very high for its effectiveness and can remove approximately 99% of particles from your home’s air.
So when it comes to pet hair remember two things, bathe your pets regularly and if they have a lot of hair to shed consider a regular grooming and brushing routine, and secondly, change your air filters regularly. That’s important even if you don’t have a pet but doubly so if you do. And consider upgrading your type of air filter as more advanced filters will do a better job at keeping your air quality high and the impact of your pet’s hair low.
Paws and Claws
One thing most dog and cat owners both love and hate about their pets is that for the most part, they do as they please. Of course, dogs can be trained but they’re never going to lose all of their inherently wild nature. They have teeth and claws and they will find ways to use them. It’s up to us to make sure they aren’t using them in a way that’s damaging to our HVAC systems. With a little preventive action, this can easily be avoided.
Let’s start with the tendency of dogs to chew. This is a behavior that’s more common among puppies but it can be an issue for older dogs as well. Some dogs just like to chew. It’s a fact of life that sometimes our canine pals have the propensity to nibble on things that they shouldn’t. If your pet is guilty of this, they may chew on the wires to your HVAC system. This can cause it to malfunction and may injure your pet, too. To prevent pets from chewing on wires, encase the electrical lines in a conduit so they can’t get to them. This is a handy tip for all the wiring in your household incidentally, not just any that might be connected to your HVAC system.
Other dogs prefer to claw and dig at hard surfaces. When allowed to roam in the yard or left to entertain themselves outside, they might decide that your outside condenser is an excellent target for their interests. Or perhaps your cat decides that the condenser looks a lot like a scratching post. If they claw or dig at the fins on the coils, it can injure their sensitive paws and damage your system. Your best bet is to fence in the outside unit so that your furry friend can’t get near.
If you have a male dog, you already know he has the tendency to lift his leg and mark his territory. This normally isn’t a problem unless he chooses your condensing unit as the target. Dog urine inside the coils can cause them to degrade and pose a risk of losing refrigerant. If your dog has decided to make your outside condenser part of his routine for marking his territory, put up a fence or other barrier to keep him away.
So as you can see, pets only post minor threats to the mechanical working of your HVAC system and these threats can easily be eliminated Just make sure wires and vulnerable parts of the HVAC system are hidden away and consider creating some kind of barrier around your outside unit so it isn’t disturbed by a rowdy pet.
The Needs of Pets
When most people consider air conditioning and heating they think of it as a way to keep people comfortable. And while it’s true that most animals including the ones we keep as pets are less picky about temperature than we are that doesn’t mean no consideration should be made to the comfort levels of our pets when it comes to our conditioned houses we keep them in. Different pets have different needs so let’s go over some of those now.
First off, cats. Cats, for the most part, take care of themselves. Cats have adapted to withstand hot or cold temperatures. Of course, that doesn’t mean let them get overheated or frozen. Give your furry friends a break when extreme temperatures hit. That means not leaving them outside all day when the summer and winter get to their highest and lowest points respectively. On more mild days this isn’t really a concern.
People with dogs shouldn’t worry too much about regulating the temperatures to accommodate your pet. Like cats, dogs are well equipped to deal with hot or cold temperatures. On days of extreme heat make sure your dog has plenty of water and a cool place to relax (either indoors or in shade). On days with freezing temperatures, allow your dog to come indoors or provide them with a dry shelter that blocks the wind.
With other types of pets, a little more thought and perhaps even research might have to go into play in order to provide the right kind of environment. For example, birds sometimes need a little more attention when it comes to temperature. Domesticated birds are often from tropical areas, so they’re used to warmer temperatures. With that in mind, avoid putting your birdcage near AC vents. The cool temperatures created when you’re air conditioning in Austin during the summer could negatively affect your bird’s health.
Both reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic, meaning they need to regulate their body temperature using outside sources. For reptile and amphibian pet owners, it is especially important to be aware of the requirements of your pet’s habitat. Learning the specifics of what your animal needs in terms of light, heat, and humidity will give you a better chance of providing a safe and comfortable environment for your reptile or amphibian.
Allergy Reduction and Dander Control
It’s a sad fact of life that many, many people have some level of allergic reaction to furry pets. For some this is extreme enough that simply can’t own a cat or a dog. There’s a sizable population though who have a certain sensitivity to pets but not enough to deter them from living with one. For these people, it’s important to know the ways in which you can minimize the allergic reaction you get from your pets.
This means limiting your pet’s dander. Pet dander is made up of tiny, oftentimes microscopic, flakes of skin and is found on animals with fur or feathers. Most people who suffer with allergies to cats and dogs are not allergic to the pet’s hair, but instead the pet’s dander. Dander is produced by most pets and can seriously affect your home’s air quality. This can occur as the dander accumulates and is distributed throughout your home by way of your HVAC system.
The most important step in reducing pet dander in the home is prevention. Regular grooming of your pets is essential to their health and well-being, but it can also make a huge difference in the amount of dander they produce. Clean, well hydrated and moisturized skin will create less dander. Bathe your cat or dog regularly using a gentle, moisturizing soap (as recommended by your veterinarian) and brush your pet’s fur regularly. Adding these simple steps to your pet care routine can go a long way in preventing dander.
Pets and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
Living with pets means a lot different things to different people. It’s a rewarding experience despite some of the chores it brings along with it. Accommodating the needs of your pets sometimes means rethinking how you use your HVAC system keeping that system healthy sometimes means protecting it from some of the side effects of owning pets.
Regardless of how advanced and robust it is, your air conditioning unit will occasionally need some special attention in the form of regular maintenance. If you need maintenance or AC repair in Austin consider AC Express. Our service area includes everything from Lago Vista and Lakeway to Round Rock and Georgetown. For Austin AC repair that can’t be beat, call today!