August 30, 2022

How to Dog-Proof Your AC Unit

Does dog pee on your AC unit damage it?

Those of us with male dogs know how obsessively they can mark their territory. Unfortunately, in the backyard that could mean harmful dog pee on your air conditioner unit. Turns out that the acids in your dog’s urine are highly corrosive and can cause significant damage that will shorten the lifespan of your AC.

We explain how a dog peeing on your air conditioner unit becomes a problem and what you can do to stop it. 

An air conditioner unit with corrosion from dog pee. The aluminum fins and condenser coils are labeled.

Can Dog Urine Ruin an AC Unit?

Dog urine quickly corrodes two main components of your outdoor unit:

  • Copper coil. Your condenser’s copper coil – the greenish-blue tubes inside – contains refrigerant that moves heat from inside your home to the outdoors. 
  • Aluminum fins. Your condenser’s aluminum fins – the gray mesh on the outside –  act as a “heat sink” and help your condenser coils transfer more heat at a faster pace. 

If either (or both) of these critical air conditioner parts corrode away, you’ll be looking at repairs or replacement sooner than later. 

The Consequences of Dog Pee on Your AC Unit

 If your dog continually pees on your air conditioner, it may lead to any of the following repairs that we often see with dog owners:

Freon replacement

Infographic describing reasons to keep your dog from peeing on your air conditioner unit.

Air conditioner coil corrosion will inevitably lead to a freon leak. Check your coils often. If dog pee creates a small leak that you catch early enough, you may get lucky. A professional may be able to find and repair the leak without having to replace 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) you may need to replace your air conditioner. R-22 is no longer produced or imported in the U.S. 

Higher energy bills & lowered efficiency

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

Replacing your air conditioner coil and fins

Your condenser coil and fins are attached so once one component is badly damaged, you’ll have to replace both. This replacement job requires a professional.

In most cases, replacing coils and damaged ac 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 installing a new unit. 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.

Should I Put a Fence Around My AC Unit?

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 plan to build a fence around your AC unit, build it AT LEAST 3 feet away from the unit. You’ll also want to stay away from solid coverings that block airflow or completely encase the unit. Your outdoor unit needs room to release the heat from inside your house. 

In addition, if you ever need AC repairs in the future, your AC technician will need to be able access it. Make sure they will be able to fit in between the unit and the fence, or make the fence removable.

AC Maintenance and Repair for Pet owners

If you see signs of air conditioner corrosion due to dog pee (or any other reason), schedule your maintenance appointment today. Our technicians can clean, repair and tune damaged air conditioning units to give them better performance and longer life. We’ve been servicing families and their pets in the Denver and Boulder area for decades. Trust Applewood with all your HVAC needs.

Call  303-328-3060

Schedule Now