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A Closer Look at Air Filters

As seemingly unimportant as a lightweight air filter appears, it is actually one of the most crucial components of your HVAC system, and it is imperative to change the filters in the HVAC system on a routine basis. Units that are not well maintained are more likely to cause issues, making the unit run less efficiently, and eventually break. Most major issues in an air conditioning unit can cost thousands of dollars to replace if it is not properly maintained.  Additionally, you can greatly improve the lifespan of your HVAC system by keeping the interior components clean and free of debris, dust, dirt, pet hair and other particles.

Problems With a Clogged or Dirty Filter

When the filter in the HVAC system is dirty and filled with particles including debris, dust and pet hair, it can dramatically restrict the flow of air in the home. The heating and cooling unit’s air handler can become easily strained, making the fan motor work harder than it was designed to perform. Over time, the fan motor can easily burn out, causing the entire system to fail.

A dirty air filter becomes highly inefficient, and allows dust, debris and dirt to be pushed into the A/C ductwork. Eventually, the accumulated dirt in the ductwork will require a costly cleaning. Simply by changing the filter on a routine basis (at least once a month) the home’s HVAC system can avoid these potentially costly problems.

Reducing Allergens and Mold

A major purpose of installing an air filter in the HVAC system is to capture harmful contaminants including mold, dust, dander and other harmful allergens. There are specialized air filters available that can significantly reduce the levels of contaminants in the air as it passes through the filter. However, when an air filter becomes dirty, it can quickly produce poor air quality in the home. Dirty air can aggravate respiratory conditions and possibly produce an asthma attack. Regularly changing the air filter can enhance the health of every one living in the home.

Energy Efficiency

Without replacing an air filter, the energy costs in the home can be significantly increased as a result of the unit needing to work harder to produce the same amount of cool air. The only way to ensure great energy efficiency at the proper temperature is to maintain the unit, which includes regularly changing the air filter.

When the air filter is clean, it can prolong the lifespan of the A/C unit by protecting the coil and the blower motor from harmful particles. Needing to replace the blower can cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars.

Finding the Correct Filter

It is important to replace the old filter with the correct filter which should be the exact dimensions required for the air conditioning unit.  Air filters are rated specifically for their ability to filter out harmful particulates, debris, dust, pollen, dirt, pet hair and other particles. The industry uses the MERV rating. The higher the filter is rated using the MERV system, the less pollen, dust, dirt and other particles will have the ability to pass through the air filter. Typically, an air filter will be rated in a range of MERV 1 – 16.

Exactly where the air filter is located on the HVAC system is based on the design of the heating and cooling system. In a standard central A/C system, the filters are built into the return air ducts and are usually located in the walls or ceilings, or located close to the HVAC unit itself. A room A/C unit typically has a mounted filter located in the grill.