Pets can add an abundance of warmth, happiness, and love to a household. But, they also add dander, hair, dirt, and other allergens that compromise indoor air quality. We’ve put together our top 7 A/C tips for pet owners so that you can improve the air quality in your home and keep it safe and comfortable for the entire family—including Fido and Fluffy.

1. Change your filters regularly

While it’s important for everyone to change their filters regularly, it’s extra important for pet owners. Your filters are your system’s first line of defense against allergens and contaminants—including the ones your pets bring into your home. When they become dirty or blocked, your cooling or heating system will have to work harder to bring your home to a comfortable temperature. And, in the process, billions of tiny airborne irritants will be able to circulate freely in the air. To protect your home against indoor pollutants like pet dander, dust, and hair, make sure and change your filters every 30 days. Set a reminder or mark your calendar so you won’t forget!

Use filters with a high MERV rating

Not all filters are created equal. MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting value, is a ratings scale that measures how effective certain air filters are at filtering specific airborne particles. The higher the MERV rating, the greater the filter’s capabilities are. In a household with pet, you should use filters with a MERV rating of 8 or higher to capture airborne allergens, pollutants, and contaminants.

  • MERV 1-4: Effectively removes pollen, dust and dust mites, textile fibers, and carpet fibers.
  • MERV 5-8: Effectively removes the same particles as MERV 1-4, along with pet dander and mole spores.
  • MERV 9-12: Effectively removes the same particles as the previous two MERV categories, along with lead dust and auto emissions.
  • MERV 13-16: Removes all particles listed in the previous MERV categories as well as bacteria and sneeze droplets.
  • MERV 16-20: HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that offer the highest level of protection available. HEPA filters remove all airborne contaminants larger than 0.30 micron particles, including viruses and smoke.

2. Seal your ducts

As a pet owner, maintaining good air quality in your home is important, since it can help counter the effects of pet dander and allergies. Sealing your ducts is a great way to improve the efficiency of your system while also improving air quality. A profressional can evaluate your ducts to see if any leaks are present, and then seal them accordingly.

3. Keep your pets away from the outdoor unit

While your indoor unit may be safe from your pets, your outdoor unit isn’t as lucky. Pets can chew on the outer fins of the condenser, or on the exterior wires. They may also mark their territory by urinating on the unit. The bottom line is, you can save your unit from corrosion and electrical issues by pet-proofing your unit. One easy way to do this is by putting a fence up around it. If you do decide to put up a fence or barrier around your unit, make sure and allow for a 3-4-foot perimeter around the unit to avoid compromising its efficiency.

4. Dust, vacuum, and clean regularly

Part of being a pet owner means cleaning up after the hair they leave behind. It’s important to keep a regular schedule of dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the surfaces in your home to keep them pet hair free (or as close to pet hair free as possible). There are great tools designed specifically to help pick up pet hair, from microfiber cloths and lint rollers to rubber rakes and grooming gloves. It’s also easier to pick up a little bit of pet hair than a lot, so it’s a good idea to make a quick cleaning session part of your daily chores.

Also, make sure you change your vacuum’s filter regularly, as a dirty vacuum filter won’t be able to suck up as much hair. A great item to put on your wishlist is a vacuum designed specifically for pets, such as one of Better Homes & Gardens the 10 best vacuums for removing pet hair.

5. Keep up with your pet’s grooming schedule

Pollen and dirt can build up quickly in your pet’s coat, so regular baths and grooming are a must. Without it, those contaminants will make their way into your home’s air and potentially contribute to blocking your filters. In-home and professional grooming of your pets can help reduce shedding and keeps pets looking and feeling their best. Grooming also helps reduce the number of allergens in the air, which is a win-win for your home.

6. Consider an air purifier

Ranging from desktop sized models to whole-home solutions, air purifiers are a great way to improve the air quality in your home. They can provide an additional line of defense against pet dander and allergens as well. Air purifiers utilize a variety of filters, including activated carbon and UV light, to trap and neutralize pollutants. To find the one that’s right for you, we suggest starting with the air purifier buying guide from Consumer Reports.

7. Schedule regular maintenance

With pets in your home, a well-working A/C system is a necessity. And, with the added strain they can pose on indoor air quality, it’s even more important to make sure your system is prepared to provide cool, clean air. At Donley, we provide maintenance services that clean, tune and adjust your system to run efficiently. With a home maintenance agreement, you’re guaranteed two 50-point maintenance inspections per year, in addition to more energy and money-saving perks, which makes it easier than ever to keep your home comfortable for you and your furry family members.

Want more tips? Ask the pros at Donley

Whether you’re a pet owner, a homeowner, or both, we have home comfort solutions for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment or for answers to your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs.