How Animal Hair Affects Your Home AC Filter

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Cat sitting indoors on a couch looking sad after learning about his negative impact on the home AC filter.

Homeowners in Central Florida are already faced with keeping mold, mildew, and pollen at bay – but pet owners have even more indoor air pollutants to battle. Pet hair and dander can quickly build up in your home’s AC filter and it can cause some serious damage if you don’t maintain it. In this article, we’ll discuss how animal hair and pet dander affect your home AC filter, and what you can do to keep your indoor air quality crisp and clean.

What Does Animal Hair Do to Your Home AC Filter?

As much as we love them, pets add to the dirt and dust in our homes – and pet hair doesn’t play nicely with your home’s AC filter. Fine hair and pet dander easily get sucked into HVAC systems. If your AC filter is properly installed, it’ll stop the hair, dust, and dander from circulating throughout the house. However, buildup over time can cause damage to your HVAC system and reduce your home’s air quality.

  • Clogged Air Filters

    • Pet hair floats through the air in your home until it eventually gets sucked up into your unit and stuck onto the AC filter. Over time, especially if you’re not diligent about cleaning or replacing the filter, it will become clogged and prevent proper airflow throughout your house.

A clogged air filter degrades the efficiency of your HVAC system and puts extra strain on the entire unit.

  • Poor Indoor Air Quality

    • While Fido’s outside rolling in the dirt, he’s not just having a grand old time – he’s picking up contaminants that he’ll bring into your home. Dirt, dander, pollen, and other allergens attach to your pets’ fur and are brought indoors. These contaminants will circulate through your home, which can trigger allergies and asthma, particularly in those who are already sensitive.

Without proper indoor airflow, your home’s air quality will suffer.

  • Unpleasant Smells

    • Enjoy that musty, wet dog smell? Love the scent of ammonia seeping from your kitty litter? Didn’t think so. Pets have a knack for creating bad smells, but a clogged home air filter will make things even worse.

You can reduce pet smells by keeping your air filter clean!

Poor airflow from a blocked home AC filter makes unpleasant smells linger in your house – and stinky smells don’t just sit in the air. Over time, your furniture, your clothing, and even you will eventually smell like whatever Fido rolled in this morning.

  • More Wear and Tear

    • If you let animal hair build up in your AC filter, it will eventually cause much bigger problems than you becoming the smelly office pariah. Over time, a clogged filter will put more wear and tear on the HVAC unit itself. This could cause it to break down and require more frequent repairs, which isn’t good for your unit – or your wallet.

Picture of a small puppy with fine hair sitting indoors on a red couch after Scott's Air changed home AC filter.

How to Keep Your Home AC Filter Clean

Animal hair might not be great for indoor air quality, but that certainly doesn’t mean you have to choose between your pets and a clean home. By keeping your home air filter clean or replacing them, you’ll be able to improve your indoor air quality and avoid the issues previously discussed.

Here are some HVAC filter cleaning tips to help you get started:

  • Replace Filters Regularly

    • If your HVAC unit uses disposable air filters, be sure to replace them regularly. For us pet owners in Central Florida, changing your home air filter on a monthly basis is recommended to keep the air clean and the unit functioning properly.
  • Vacuum the Filter

    • If your HVAC unit has a reusable air filter, you’ll need to clean it yourself each month. If you don’t feel confident with doing it yourself contact your trusted local AC company to teach you how to maintain your unit. When cleaning the air filter, your vacuum’s soft brush attachment will work well for gently sucking up the debris from the AC filter.
  • Wash with Water and Vinegar

    • If the vacuum doesn’t remove the buildup on your AC filter, you’ll need to wash it. You can wash your home AC filter with a water and vinegar solution to give it a deeper clean.

How to Wash Your AC Filter

  1. Turn off your air conditioner.
  2. Remove the filter.
  3. Vacuum loose debris.
  4. Fill your sink with one part water and one part white vinegar.
  5. Allow your HVAC filter to soak in the solution for one hour.
  6. Gently rinse it off with fresh water.
  7. Let it fully dry before returning to your AC unit.

Always be sure to check the manufacturer instructions on your AC unit before cleaning your air filter.

The method you choose for cleaning your air filter depends on the type of HVAC unit and the type of AC filter you have. For example, AC filters are made with different materials, have different MERV ratings, and can be disposable, reusable, or electrostatic – and they should all be maintained in different ways. Learning how to keep your home AC filter clean will reduce the strain on your AC unit and help you save on electricity bills.

More HVAC Cleaning Tips

Contact an AC Company in Orlando

If you’re not careful, animal hair can wreak havoc on your Central Florida HVAC system. By following the steps outlined above, you can easily maintain your HVAC filter and keep the air in your home clean.

Along with keeping your home air filter clean, you should have your AC unit inspected regularly by a professional. Working with an AC company in Central Florida allows you to pick up on potential issues right away and fix them before they escalate. An HVAC maintenance agreement will keep you on a regular schedule and can help you avoid costly repairs!

For more help keeping your AC unit running smoothly, contact Scott’s Heating & Air Conditioning today. We are a trusted AC company that services the Orlando metro region and all of Central Florida. We’re always happy to help Central Florida residents keep their homes feeling cool and smelling fresh.


Scott’s Heating & Air Conditioning is a full-service heating and air conditioning company and a Bryant® Factory Authorized Dealer in Central Florida. Whether you need repair, maintenance, or installation of a new heating or cooling system, we provide efficient, cost-effective, and professional service. When it’s hot, call Scott!

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