How Animals Cause HVAC Chaos

Written By 5 Star Charleston Heating & Air
March 16, 2022

You may have heard the saying that animals are a man’s best friend. But what about your air conditioner? Believe it or not, animals can actually cause a lot of damage to your HVAC equipment – and that can lead to costly repairs. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how animals can damage your AC unit – and what you can do to prevent it.

Your air conditioner/heat pump was created to work in the great outdoors. It also has to endure the greatest and worst of Mother Nature: hail, sleet, snow, ice, and so on.

The good news is that HVAC equipment is designed to withstand harsh weather and has been tested to ensure it will function properly for years under a variety of weather conditions. However, as we’ve seen from air conditioner repair calls, there’s a wildcard: dog pee.

Also mice, snakes, spiders, and cats.

Some are pets that we can’t live without. Others are nothing more than a problem.

Dog Pee Can Ruin Your AC or Heat Pump

There are two distinct types of coils in your air conditioner or heat pump. You have copper and aluminum, with only aluminum following afterward.

On a spiny fin unit, picture a tube with spikes surrounding it. Both the spikes and the tube are made of aluminum.

Dog urine is highly acidic. Aluminum will be destroyed rapidly by dog urine, resulting in a hole. If your dog’s pee comes into contact with the condenser coils, the corrosion could lead to a freon leak. If you detect a tiny leak and repair it promptly, you may be fortunate enough to get help from a professional rather than having to replace the whole system later.

When dog urine has severely damaged the coil, or more than 25% of the fins have been destroyed, AND:

  • Your air conditioner is still relatively new.
  • A new coil can be obtained and set at a cost of less than half of what it would cost to replace the entire outside unit.

Replacing a similar refrigerant condenser coil, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $1800 and up. This is determined by the amount of refrigerant needed to recharge the system and the size of the machine.

If the AC Coil Isn’t Completely Ruined

Although a single fin is destroyed, your air conditioner will still function. The AC will just move air at a slower rate since a few fins are lost. Because of this, the AC has to work harder and fewer fins are used. This leads to higher energy costs and an inefficient cooling system.

If you have the copper or aluminum variety, the copper is where the refrigerant is carried. The urine will dissolve the aluminum fins off of the copper pipes. You’ll be left with copper pipes that aren’t capable of transferring much conditioned air. This may be seen in older air conditioners and heat pumps.

Repairs might necessitate a replenishment of your system with more refrigerant—and if you’re using a unit that takes R-22 , this may end up costing you more.

How to Prevent Dog Pee Damage

Louvered panels are used to protect the inner workings of outdoor units. Steel is used for the exterior. They have a finished coat that protects the coil and gives it a beautiful finish. It’s similar to the paint on a car in terms of durability. It can withstand urine, but it will not prevent all damage.

So you should teach your pet not to go there or construct some sort of barrier. For access, the fence must have a gate, and it should not be located near the unit. Your air conditioner/heat pump needs to Breath. If the fence prevents fresh air from circulating, the device will suffocate, resulting in another costly repair. A mesh cage installed at a safe distance from the equipment may work provided that it is large enough to prevent splashing.

Even if you can teach your dog to avoid your air conditioner, stray neighborhood dogs will be difficult to keep out. Because it’s a non-manufacturer problem, this sort of damage isn’t covered by warranty. Nothing deteriorated or broke because of a lack of supplies. It is an unfortunate repair.

If your fins or coils are damaged and your AC is more than ten years old, it may be a better investment to replace it. The cost of repairing the fin and/or coil will frequently (if not more so) than replacing the whole outdoor unit.

If you’re installing a new air conditioner, inquire about a wall rack that raises the unit above a dog’s pee zone. Alternatively, you might put the new device away from the dog’s fenced space. To prevent harm to your air conditioner, spray it with an odor that discourages dogs.

Pet Dander Can Clog Your Furnace Filter

Despite the fact that you can safeguard your outside heat pump/air conditioner, you will still have to deal with your pets inside. Pet dander is a major issue because it floats until it lands on your furnace filter. The more pets you have, the more pet dander there is, and the sooner your filter needs to be changed.

You could have a filter that claims it needs to be changed every six months. If you have several pets, waiting six months may be too long. After four or five months, check your filter to see how dirty it is. When it’s apparent that the filter can no longer capture much more airborne debris, replace it.


Related Article: How Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Allergies?


Mice Can Chew Through Wires

Chewing on electrical wires sharpens their teeth. Biting on hard objects makes their teeth stronger and more firm. The insulation surrounding HVAC cables may be gnawed by mice. When the unit activates, it could be fried as a result of this.

Mice may be deterred from your property after all, and you may wish to consider getting a duct-sealing service to keep both mice and insects out of the ducts. You should also check your house’s ductwork for any cracks between them and the wall. A mouse only needs a tiny hole to get through.

The process of constructing a mouse home begins when one is discovered. Attic insulation and duct insulation are ideal nesting materials.

Even if no pests have died and begun decomposing, you may detect a strong stench in the ductwork; this is due to decaying rat urine. Not only can a rodent change the smell of your house, but they can also begin to affect the efficiency of your HVAC system’s airflow.

Rodents have little regard for material, but some materials are more vulnerable than others. Some houses have fiberglass duct board or paper ductwork in their ductwork. These items might easily become nest materials and result in HVAC system leaks.

That is one of the advantages of air conditioning maintenance. Mice (and other rodents) have invaded your ducts and furnace since there’s nothing else to do in there; no one goes in. If HVAC professionals visit a few times each year, they may shatter that dark, cozy nest by entering the dwelling.

Snakes consume mice. If you remove the mice, the snakes will seek for food elsewhere and hopefully away from your property.

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