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Why You Should Keep Your Dogs Away From Your AC

If you have a male dog, you know how obsessive they are about marking their territory.

And when it comes to tree stumps or fire hydrants, this canine compulsion is relatively harmless.

But if there’s one thing your dog’s urine can completely destroy, it’s your air conditioner.

An air conditioner with damage from dog urine

Your dog’s urine can leave your outdoor unit looking like this. Source: Ris C Handmade

It turns out that the acids in your dog’s urine are highly corrosive and can eat through your AC coil and aluminum fins.

Let’s take a look at what this means for your AC (and your energy bills) and how you can protect your air conditioner from this kind of damage.

What does dog urine do to my air conditioner?

Dog urine quickly corrodes the aluminum fins and copper coil in your outdoor unit.

Here’s a quick look at what your fins and coils actually do:

  • Your condenser’s copper coil contains refrigerant that moves heat from inside your home to the outdoors. (See the greenish-blue tubes pictured below.)
  • Your condenser’s aluminum fins act as a “heat sink” and help your condenser coils transfer more heat at a faster pace. (See the grey mesh pictured below.)
An outside air conditioner damaged by dog urine

Photo source: Gridquality.com

If either (or both) of these parts corrode away, here are some of the issues you’ll face:

Freon replacement

If your dog’s urine hits the condenser coils, the corrosion will inevitably lead to a freon leak. If the leak is small and if you catch it early enough, you may get lucky and a professional may be able to find and repair the leak instead of replacing the coil.

The bad news is that you will need to recharge your system with more refrigerant—and if your unit takes R-22 refrigerant (an old refrigerant that’s being phased out) this can end up costing you.

Related: 4 Signs Your AC May Need a Refrigerant (Freon) Charge

Higher energy bills & lowered efficiency

If a small percentage of your fins are damaged, your AC will still function but will transfer heat at a slower pace. Basically, your AC has to work harder without as many fins. This results in higher energy bills and an inefficient air conditioner.

But if a large portion of the fins are corroded you may want to look into….

Replacing the coil and fins

Your condenser coil and fins are attached so if only one component is badly damaged, you’ll still pay to have both replaced. This replacement job requires a professional.

In most cases, replacing the coils and fins is the best solution for dog urine corrosion. But if a replacement isn’t available or if your AC unit is older, you will probably be better off replacing the entire unit.

Replacing your outdoor unit

Oftentimes, the cost to repair the fins and/or coils will be just as (if not more) expensive to replace the outdoor unit entirely. So, if your fins or coils are heavily damaged and your AC is over 10 years old, it’s usually more practical to replace the unit.

How to keep your AC safe from dog urine corrosion

Now that you know the kind of damage that dog urine causes, you’re probably looking for a way to keep your dog away from your air conditioner.

Adding a fence around your AC usually does the trick and is relatively inexpensive.

If you are interested in building a fence around your AC unit, it is important to build it AT LEAST 3 feet away from the unit. You’ll also want to stay away from solid coverings that block airflow and completely encase the unit. Your outdoor unit needs room to release the heat from inside your house, so be sure that you aren’t accidentally suffocating it. In addition, if you ever need repairs done to the unit in the future, your AC technician will need to be able to fit in between the unit and the fence, or the fence should be removable if it is tightly enclosing on the unit.

Need some inspiration for your AC fence? Click here for some beautiful, dog-proof options we came across.

George Brazil has been keeping Phoenix-area homes safe, comfortable and energy efficient since 1955.

Contact us online for more information about any of our services.

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