Pets and HVAC: there's cat and dog dander in the duct

catinsheets.jpgAs much as you love your furry little friend, your HVAC system may not be as pleased as you are. Pet odor can become trapped in the air filter, which spreads through your home. Pet dander may also lead to allergies that can cause you or your loved ones to become ill. Fear not, however. A few simple steps can keep your air ducts clean and working efficiently for you, your family and your pet. 

What is pet dander?

Pet dander is essentially tiny pieces of skin your pet sheds. It can also be bits of saliva that can become airborne. If you have a litter box in the home or a puppy that hasn't learned what the great outdoors are for, this can add some extra spores to the air.

Any pet, whether it has furs or feathers, can cause dander. While some animals are considered hypoallergenic, such as poodles, Kerry blue terriers, and west highland white terriers, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that no true hypoallergenic dog exists. The chances of causing an allergic reaction might be lower, but they're still there because all animals shed.

Try not to judge your beloved pet too harshly just yet, however. We shed too. For humans, shedding results in the dust particles you clean up every day.

Many scientists disagree about how much dust lying around is actually caused by humans, but the Nerdist reports quite a bit of the dust lying around your home could be from you.

How does owning pets affect your HVAC?

Pet dander can wreak havoc on your air filtration system. In some cases, it can even make you or your loved ones sick.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, pet dander and other biological pollutants can lead to:

  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • and digestive problems

It's also possible for people with allergies to pet dander to develop allergic reactions such as: 

  • some types of asthma
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • allergic rhinitis

So how does this happen? As it turns out, pets affect your HVAC system by having pet dander and odors becoming trapped in the ducts. This can clog up your system if not cleaned regularly. This, in turn, lowers the quality of the air that you breathe in every day.

If the pet dander continues to build up, you or your loved ones can develop allergies. 

It may sound like a nasty cycle, but it doesn't have to be. While it's next to impossible to prevent pet dander if you have a pet, there are ways to reduce it or lower it to levels that aren't harmful.

How can you reduce pet dander in the air?

Getting rid of pet dander doesn't have to be tricky. A few simple changes will greatly help reduce it.

The National Library of Medicine reports that using a HEPA air cleaner greatly reduces the amount of pet dander in the air. It wasn't able to eliminate pet dander completely, but the percentage was significantly lowered.

Another great tool to use is a humidifier. A good humidifier can help reduce the pet dander floating around in the air, according to the EPA.

Having a humidity level of 30-50 will help prevent other allergens, as well. Too much humidity will increase your allergies, however, so keep an eye on your levels.

What steps can you take to prevent pet dander?

Preventing pet dander pretty much revolves around cleaning. You can keep it to a minimum with regular grooming, but the dander will still be there. Your pet never actually stops shedding, after all. 

With that being said, dusting your home is a great start. This keeps the dander from settling in the room. Vacuuming the floors at least once a week will also help. If you don't have carpeting, sweeping the floor on a regular basis will go a long way towards keeping pet dander to decent levels. 

The one area that many people tend to overlook is the air ducts. You don't actually spend much time looking at the vents, after all, so it's easy to forget about it until something goes wrong. They still need to be cleaned regularly, however, which is not quite as simple as running a duster over your counters.

This isn't something you should overlook. Pet dander can stay in the air for months after having a pet in your home, according to the American Lung Association. This means that if you haven't had your air filters cleaned in a while, the pet dander could still be caught up inside. 

Cleaning your HVAC doesn't need to be a hassle

Keeping your air filters clean may not be at the top of your spring-cleaning list, but it still needs to hold a place of high importance. 

The U.S. Department of Energy reports, "An air conditioner's filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a airconditioner.jpgsteady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases."

Furthermore, the United States Environmental Protection Agency states, "No filter or air cleaner, regardless of its rating, will be effective if it is not properly maintained."

Cleaning the coils, drain channels, and ducts can be difficult to clean without the right tools, however. That's where we come in. 

At AdvantaClean, we take care of cleaning your air duct and coils, as well as your dryer vents. All we need you to do is clear a path to any fans or registers in your home, and give our technician a tour when he arrives. We'll take care of the rest. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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