Have you recently noticed that your outside air conditioner unit isn't working as efficiently as it once did? Do you also have a dog? If so, good old Fido may have caused your warm weather-woes by turning your AC into his own personal outhouse. Read on to learn about the devastating effects of dog urine on your air conditioner.
A Corrosive Double Whammy
The fins on your air conditioner's coils are made from aluminum, and aluminum is an amphoteric metal. What this means is that it will chemically react to both acidic and alkaline substances.
Urine, be it from a human or dog, is unique in that it's the only known natural substance that changes from an acid to an alkaline state. As it exits the body, it has a pH of between 5 and 6, but when it dries the pH rises to between 10 and 12. How does this fact relate to your air conditioner problems? If your dog is urinating on your AC unit, that urine is damaging the aluminum coil fins both during the process and long after your pup has lowered his leg and walked away.
Urine is so damaging, in fact, that it's been known to bring down 20 meter tall metal street lamps; now just imagine the impact it could have on your fragile AC coils.
DIY Coil Cleaning For Dog Owners
Pull the back panel off of your outside AC unit to expose the aluminum coil fins. If dog urine is the culprit, you'll either see bluish-green corrosion on them, or you'll find that some of your coil fins will be completely eroded away.
If the damage doesn't appear to be too extensive, you can try to limit the problem yourself by filling a spray bottle with a dog urine neutralizer (sold at pet stores) and then gently spraying the coil fins from the outside and in a downward direction -- the same direction in which your dog initiated the damage. Let the solution sit on the coils for the duration of time recommended on the neutralizer container, and then use a clean, water-filled spray bottle to thoroughly rinse the neutralizer from your AC coil fins.
Cleaning your AC fins won't fix your problem, but it will prevent it from getting worse. Now is also a good time to fence off your unit so that your dog can no longer gain access to it.
When The Damage Is Severe
Your AC unit has refrigerant running through copper tubes within its compressor. In order to cool your home, your unit takes warm air from inside your house, passes it through these copper tubes, and then transfers it to the larger surface area of the fins where it is then fanned outside and away from the unit.
An AC unit with missing or damaged fins will still cool a home, but it won't get it nearly as cool as a unit with fully functioning fins. Missing fins will also spike energy consumption since your AC will need to work a lot harder to transfer heat outdoors.
If you're missing more than a few coil fins, it's best to call an air conditioner repair service to come and replace them; the cost of repair will quickly be recuperated with lower energy bills.
Your dog might be your best friend, but he might also be your air conditioner's worst enemy. If you've got an outside AC unit that doesn't seem to be functioning as properly as it once did, there's a good chance that your furry companion has been doing his business on it. Take steps to keep your dog away from your outside unit, assess the damage, and then act accordingly. For more information about keeping your AC unit in good condition, contact a local heating and air conditioning repair company.