Have you ever wondered why when you call an HVAC company one of the first questions they always seem to ask you is, “Have you checked your filters?” What would my filters have to do with why my system won’t turn on or why it is making a loud noise all of a sudden? The truth is, a dirty or clogged filter can cause long term damage to your heating & cooling system.
How a dirty filter effects air flow through your system
When your filter is dirty it restricts air flow to your system, air flow that your system needs to efficiently run and keep your home comfortable. Your heating and cooling system works like a big vacuum, air gets sucked in through the return, pulled through the blower and heat exchanger, then out the supplies and back into your house. Restricting this air flow puts more pressure on the systems blower motor and changes the CFM (Cubic Feet / Minute) output within the system. If you don’t have the correct amount of CFM going across the heat exchanger, the temperature will build inside the system causing it to go off limit, overheat or shutdown completely. In order for your whole system to work correctly, it needs to have the right amount of air flow going through it at all times.
Make sure you are using the correct filter
Filter size is very important as well. Not having the correct size will allow dust and particles to go around the filter instead go through it. While filters do help clean the air we breathe inside our homes, they also stop dust and particles from getting inside the system where it can build up quickly on various parts, such as the blower wheel, resulting in parts failures and incorrect system CFM. Filters that don’t fit right have also been known to get sucked into the blower, which in turn will cause major damage to your system.
While you must always use the correct filter size, you can however, use any brand, type or merv rating filter. This will allow you to choose a filter perfect for your families needs. For example, If someone in your family suffers from allergies, you might consider getting a filter with a higher merv rating or having a media cabinet filter or an electronic air cleaner installed. The merv rating determines how much the filter is going to clean the air, a higher merv rating means the filter will catch smaller sized particles, resulting in cleaner air. If you are budget conscience, you might look at getting a washable filter. If you decide to get a washable filter, make sure that you allow time for it to dry completely before putting the filter back into place and never run the system while the filter is not installed. Also keep in mind that a washable filter will not last forever, you will notice that over time the filter will start to breakdown during the washing process.
Did you know you can customize your systems filtration?
Although every household has different filtration needs, checking your filters on a regular basis is extremely important. Even though you might not need to change them every single month you will definitely want to check them at least once a month, especially if you have a one inch filter. If your home as a media cabinet filter, you will want to ensure that you check it every three months. Different things within your home will cause your filter to gather dirt faster, such as pet dander and candles. You might also notice that during the different seasons your filter might need to be changed more frequently. For example, if you like to open your windows during the nice spring weather to help circulate fresh air into your home, you might notice that your filter will need to be changed more often due to the increased dirt that the fresh outside air is bringing into the house.
How to locate your filters and determine how many you need
Finding out how many filters your home has and where they are located at is pretty simple. First you will need to know what type of filters your system has installed. If you have return air filter grills, you can count how many of the big registers you have through out your home. These will open up and your filter will go inside the filter grill. If you have flat grills, which are screwed directly into your walls and/or ceiling, your filter should be installed at the furnace. If you have a media cabinet filter it should be on the outside of your furnace. Some systems have the filter included inside of the furnace, which will require the bottom of the furnace door to be removed to locate the filter bracket. We highly recommend that if your filter is located inside the furnace that you have an HVAC professional change the filter for you, as it requires the furnace components to be exposed. If you have a maintenance agreement plan, many heating and air companies will change your filters for you during the maintenance visits, as long as you provide or purchase a filter at the time of the visit.
Know and understand your indoor air quality options
Just like there are many different system options to consider, there are a number of indoor air quality solutions that can be added to your current system to help customize to your home and families needs. The team at Andy Lewis Heating & Conditioning works with you to help you choose the best option for you. If you are interested in learning more about the indoor air quality options available, have any questions regarding your filters, or are interested in our preventative maintenance plan, contact us today!
Andy Lewis Heating & Air Is Here For You!
Remember, when it comes to complex systems, like your HVAC system, little things that can easily be fixed, such as a filter, can very quickly turn into big problems that if not addressed in time, could result into you needing to replace your unit prematurely. Setting a calendar reminder to check your filters once a month is a great way to ensure you start checking your filters regularly and if you do notice any noises or that your system is not heating or cooling as well as it has in the past contact your local HVAC company to check things out before its too late. The Andyman team is available to help you 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, just call 704-391-9191.