The Story Behind Your Filter
Uh oh, your furnace isn’t working! As the HVAC technician walks towards you from the mechanical room, you zero in on the very dirty air filter in his hand. “Gosh, when was the last time I replaced it?” skirts through your mind. When you see the date on your filter, you can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. So a new filter is all you need, right? Unfortunately, the tech informs you the plugged filter has caused the blower motor to fail. He adds the fact that further diagnostics on the furnace can’t be done until the part is replaced. More parts may be failing or already have failed. What would have been a minimal charge, has now ballooned into a very expensive fix or possibly even an emergency replacement of your furnace!
Filters are a simple part of any HVAC system. They are also the most overlooked and underestimated component. Maintaining a clean filter is critical to your family’s health and the health and longevity of your heating and cooling system.
What does a filter do?
The filter for your heating and cooling system performs two tasks. Its primary responsibility is to shield the HVAC equipment from dirt, grime, and damaging air-born particles, but depending on the quality of filter it also improves air quality by catching those particles. A good quality filter captures anything from dust mite debris, mold spores, pet dander, smoke, to particles carrying bacteria, viruses, and odors.
How can I tell what is a good filter?
Filters are most commonly rated by the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) system which measures a filter’s ability to trap particles between 3.0 to 10.0 microns. Air filter MERV ratings can range from 1 to 20. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at capturing smaller particles and effectively and efficiently removing them from the air you breathe. While a majority of manufacturers follow the MERV rating system, there are a few with their own measurement systems. When selecting a filter, carefully review the filtration level to ensure you get the desired results.
Our technicians recommend using a MERV 10 or better pleated filter.
How often should a filter be changed?
The package at the store says “Up to 3 Months” on your 1” filter. We emphasis the important part of the phrase being the “Up to…”. While most manufacturers recommend replacing every three months, both our Design Air technicians and EPA’s Energy Star program recommend checking your 1” to 2” filter every 4-6 weeks especially during the heavy heating and cooling months. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. If you have a 4” or 5” wide media filter, check you filter every 6 months and change at least every year.
How long your filter lasts will depend on individual factors, such as how frequently the system runs, how clean the house is kept and other variables such as number of people in a household, pets, if someone in the household smokes, outside air quality, and how often your windows are open.
Tired of those frequent filter changes? Consider looking into an upgraded 4” or 5” wide media cabinet. A mentioned before, wide media filters normally only need changed once or twice a year and can be changed by your HVAC technician during your annual/semi-annual tune up of your system. Moving to a wide media filter can cost less in the long run and reduces the needed trips to the local hardware store!
What are the benefits of a regularly changed, good quality, filter?
A dirty filter slows down air flow causing your system to work harder to keep you warm or cool. Not only do you waste energy staying comfortable, but the additional stress on the equipment leads to expensive repairs and/or early system failure. Changing your filter frequently with a good quality filter can help you save energy bills, keep you HVAC equipment running longer, and maintain the quality of air in your home.
Call the team at Design Air today to schedule for your system’s HVAC annual maintenance and safety inspection or to ask us regarding our filter drop ship program.