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Heating & Air Conditioning

Pet ownership: How to protect your HVAC system

Believe it or not, 58% of Canadian households own a cat or dog. That means that more than half the country lives with a furry family member! The percentage is probably higher if you count bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters, and more (which we certainly do). And we can’t forget about pets with scales. It’s estimated that roughly 300,000 Canadians have a reptile. Birds are also very popular—there are around 2.5 million cohabitating comfortably in homes. 

Clearly, we love our pets! Unfortunately, our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems do not. Pets cause excess dust and dander, and drag dirt and sand into our homes. While most pet owners would argue that this is a fair price to pay for companionship, it can be a real problem for your indoor air quality if you don’t take proactive measures.

What if we told you that there are steps you can take to keep your HVAC system and ductwork clean if you have pets? Even small adjustments to your routine can maintain a higher indoor air quality and keep your furnace from experiencing preventable wear and tear caused by feathers, fur, and other debris. 


Here are our practical tips for pet owners:


Change your air filter frequently

Air filters are your first line of defence against pollutants entering your air supply. For this reason, pet owners will likely find their filters full of fur, feathers, shedding, and anything else your pet might leave behind. Changing your air filter frequently will ensure it doesn’t become clogged or compromised. 

How often is frequent? This will depend on your filter’s specifications and your pet. You’ll likely want to change it more frequently than recommended by the filter manufacturer, which means as often as every month or two. If it looks dirty, swap it out for a fresh one. 

Keep your pets well groomed

Furry pets should be brushed and groomed regularly so that their shedding can be managed. Many dogs have thick undercoats, and these will naturally shed and leave piles of hair throughout your home. Regular brushing can help to catch the fur before it has a chance to scatter and get into your vents. And make sure that you vacuum often for anything you weren’t able to capture when brushing your pet. 

It’s not just the furry dogs and cats you need to worry about. Unless you have a hypoallergenic pet, they all shed somewhat. Even hypoallergenic animals should be groomed, since they pick up dust, dirt, and more on their adventures. 

Clean your pet’s favourite areas often

Many pets live in cages, and even some dogs and cats have their own crates. Keeping these areas tidy and vacuumed is a great way to reduce the strain of a pet on your HVAC system. 

If your pet bird or hamster lives in a cage, be sure that its bedding is clean and not spilling over the edges of the cage. It’s often made of a variety of materials like wood chips, paper shreds, and straw that harbours allergens and can easily make its way into your vents. 

If you own a feathery or furry animal, be sure to vacuum the area where they sleep. Reptiles should also have their cages well maintained to be sure none of the sand or stone in their cages escapes into your vents. 

Guard any outdoor HVAC accessories

If your air conditioning unit is outside, it’s important to protect it from curious pets. This is especially important for dog and cat owners, as these animals tend to spend more time outdoors in the yard. Construct a fence around your outdoor unit to keep dogs from territorial peeing near it. You should also deter your animals from exploring outdoor vent openings. 

Get regular HVAC maintenance

We always recommend regular HVAC maintenance checks for everyone, but this is especially important for pet owners. In fact, you’ll likely need more frequent service and cleaning. Regular maintenance and duct cleaning removes allergens so that they don’t negatively impact your indoor air quality or HVAC system performance.

If you aren’t proactive about keeping your ducts and HVAC system clean, debris can accumulate and contribute to excess wear and tear and increased energy use as air is forced through clogged vents. If you own a pet, be sure to get your HVAC system maintained at least once a year. 

Pets are wonderful companions, but they can wreak havoc on your HVAC system if you aren’t taking action to keep it well maintained. With our simple tips, you’ll be able to limit the impact of your furry friend’s debris on your home, and help to reduce your allergic symptoms and prevent costly wear and tear on your system. 

Whyte Ridge Heating & Air Conditioning can help keep you and your pets healthy and comfortable in the Winnipeg area. Don’t let pesky pet-related HVAC problems get out of control. Contact us today for preventive HVAC cleaning and servicing that will keep all of your family members happy…even the furry ones.