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Homeowner Tips: Protect AC Unit from Dog Damage

Who knew you had to protect your AC unit from dog damage? Raise your hands. Anyone? Unless you’ve experienced this or you’re a home inspector or HVAC tech, you may be unaware of this risk. In this blog, we’ll review the signs of doggy damage, how to protect your AC unit from dog mischief, and what to do if it’s already happened.   

Results of Not Protecting AC Unit from Dog Damage

Simply, when a dog marks his or her territory, sometimes it chooses your AC compressor. The urine corrodes the metal, leaving a rusty, beat-up mess. Some newer air conditioner compressors often have durable paint and heavy-duty grates. Unfortunately, these usually hide it instead of protecting the AC unit from dog urine. 

Why it Matters: What Your Outdoor AC Unit Does

At a high level, your air conditioning system cools because it removes heat and moisture from the air indoors. Unlike a furnace, which creates heat to warm the air, an AC cools by removing heat. The outside AC unit’s task is to exhaust the heat your air handler (indoors) collected from your home’s air.

Step One: Hot refrigerant flows through the condensing coil, which is basically a copper tube. 

Step Two: A blower fan pushes air over the coil. 

Step Three: The refrigerant cools as the air absorbs heat from the condensing coil. 

Step Four: The AC compressor returns the cooled refrigerant to the indoor air handler to absorb more heat and repeat the process. 

Aluminum fins attach to the condensing coil and increase the coil’s surface area. This improves the air conditioner’s efficiency because it helps the coil expel the heat quickly. The dog urine usually eats away at the metal until the fins literally disappear.

Too Late to Protect AC Unit from Dog Damage: What to Do

Ignore it?

The efficiency suffers, though, which means higher electric bills and an increased risk of AC repairs and breakdowns. If a small area of the aluminum fins are damaged, say, less than a quarter and the there’s no leak from the coil, you could leave it alone. 

The fins improve air conditioning efficiency, their absence doesn’t mean the AC doesn’t work anymore. If you choose to ignore it and absorb the higher electricity bills, take steps to prevent it from getting worse. 

Purchase a new condensing coil?

If, however, the coil is damaged, it needs a new one. Replace the coil if the dog urine has corroded more than 25 percent of the aluminum fins, your AC is fairly new, and there’s major coil damage. 

Be advised, a replacement coil should be 50 percent or less of the cost of a new outside AC unit. 

Replace the entire outdoor AC compressor?

How to decide? Use these criteria:

  • The cost to replace the coil exceeds 50 percent of an AC compressor replacement. 
  • Your air conditioner is ten years old or more. In the south our air conditioners run so much, they tend to skew toward the lower end of the lifespan. 
  • A replacement coil is unavailable. 

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How to Protect AC Unit from Dog and Other Animal Marking

So, now that you’re familiar with the cost – potentially thousands – some dog urine can do, what steps can you take? 

If you have a dog, install a fence around your AC compressor. Wait! Before you run to the home improvement store, we have more details for you. Airflow is to an HVAC system like oxygen is to you and me. 

We frequently caution homeowners against planting hedges or other invasive plants near AC compressors. Likewise, do not install a solid fence. Any shrubbery or fencing should be at least three feet from the air conditioner. 

Also, choose a style air flows freely through, like lattice or a wide-picket. The idea is to deter dogs from getting close enough to urinate on the metal of the AC compressor. 

AC Compressor Repair, Service and Installation Pros: Douglas Cooling & Heating

So, now you know why it’s important and how to protect your AC unit from dog damage. If it’s already happened, decide the best course of action for your budget. Our team is always happy to consult and provide a free estimate. 

In the meantime, take care of your heating and air system with one of our service plans. We offer three levels of plans to fit any budget. So call Douglas Cooling & Heating today and schedule an HVAC maintenance tune up for your heating and cooling system. 

Our team serves homeowners throughout the Birmingham, Alabama area, including Bessemer, Chelsea, Calera and Helena. You’ll also find our team in Pelham, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, Mountain Brook, and Hoover. 

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