Most people tend to underestimate the importance of filtration in their HVAC system. A neglected unit with a filter that has been in place for too long will eventually begin to resemble a large dust bunny. The efficiency of the filter has increased to the point that air can no longer flow through it at all, which is extremely damaging to your heating and cooling system. It would be equivalent to the difference between breathing through your shirt and breathing through a thick pillow. Don’t let it get to the point where your system is starving for air. It’s extremely easy and fast to replace the filter on a regular basis, as long as you’re adequately prepared. Here’s what you need to know in order to properly care for your HVAC system’s filtration.
First, you’ll have to make sure you know the size of the air filter for your unit. The grille/grate in most homes in our area (Delaware) contain a slide-in filter and are located right next to the unit. This isn’t the case 100% of the time, so you might need to find out exactly where your filter is located. Once you’ve found it, simply pull out the filter that’s in your system and look on the side. If the size isn’t marked there, just use a tape measure.
Once you know the correct size, the more difficult decision comes from how much you want to pay and what efficiency you’re looking for. Filters range in price from a few dollars up to $20 or more. The ones that cost a few dollars are like throwing a handful of pebbles at a chain link fence—it will knock some of the larger debris away, but most of the smaller particles will get through. Those small particles will end up on either the blower motor or on the air conditioner coil, impacting the efficiency and longevity of the system.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum, there are HEPA grade filters similar to those that are used in a hospital. You have to be very careful when selecting these, though, because they require the assistance of a professional. These filters are likely to restrict airflow, negatively impact performance, and shorten the life of the unit. Fortunately, these HEPA filters aren’t found in the filter rack at the hardware store due to their specialty application. (HEPA filters usually pull air directly from/through the ductwork itself.)
Once you select a suitable filter for your HVAC system, the best thing to do is adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations about how often it needs to be changed. Then buy a 6 or 12 month supply so that you’ll be prepared once it’s time to change out the filter. (Boulden Brothers sends out email reminders to let you know when it’s time.) If you already have the filter on hand and ready to go, replacement will only take a couple of minutes to perform. Just make sure that the filter is slid all the way in so that no air can flow around it. Some filters have an arrow indicating the direction that air should flow, so make sure it’s housed facing the proper orientation. Close the filter door, throw away the old filter, and you’re ready to go.
High efficiency filtration can have health benefits for the family, especially if people suffer from asthma or allergies. If you have any questions about what’s best for your HVAC system’s filtration, give us a call or contact us online. We have electrostatic filters, for example, that generate a small electric charge. They are highly efficient and don’t have a large negative impact on airflow. Our technicians are always happy to talk to homeowners about the ways that they can increase the life and efficiency of their system.