The air filter of a heating and air conditioning system is responsible for preventing dirt, pollen, dust, debris and large pollutants up to 40 microns in size from entering the system and damaging delicate parts and interfering with the unit’s efficiency. Just as the oil filter in a car must be changed at regular mileage intervals, this system’s filter should be changed at least once every three months to maintain the optimum performance of the unit.
A clogged air filter is bad news for you and your HVAC. A dirty filter creates a pressure drop which reduces air flow through the unit, causing it to have to work harder to maintain efficiency. The result is an increase in the amount of energy it uses, which translates into much higher utility bills. The longer the unit works under this strain, the greater the chance is that parts may break down and repairs become necessary. Simply changing the air filter can solve the problems or prevent them from ever occurring.
There are certain environmental conditions within and around your home that make it vital to check your air filter’s condition on a monthly basic to maintain your system at its peak efficiency and to keep your interior air quality as clean as possible. First and foremost is the presence of family members with allergies and/or asthma. They need the air to be as free of dust, pollen, dander and pollutants as it can to aid their breathing. The presence of pets in the home produces dander which the filters collect. Larger families generate more dirt and debris with their comings and goings. Smokers who smoke indoors release pollutants that the filters collect. When a fireplace is used, the filter is working more. In colder or hotter climates, where the heat or air conditioning needs to run more than six months of the year, the filter works constantly.
External conditions around the home also impact the dirt and debris that enter into its indoor air. If there is construction occurring nearby there are gravel dust, sawdust, and other construction material floating in on the breeze. Homes with large gardens have fertilizers, soil, seeds, condensation and various tidbits from the garden to filter. If you live on a ranch, a farm or in a wildfire prone area, there are a multitude of environmental elements in the air. Changing the filters monthly should be the top of your “to do”list.
Be sure to purchase the right size from types of filters for your particular HVAC system and install each filter correctly. Have your system serviced annually by a licensed contractor. Have this person instruct you in the proper way to change the filter if you do not know how. Keeping a clean filter in your unit will help it work at its maximum potential to keep your interior air comfortable.