Air filters happen to be the most used part of an HVAC system. Unfortunately, they are also the most neglected. Time and again, the homeowners are advised to change their air filters at regular intervals, and yet, that does not always happen.
It’s just an air filter, so just chill it, dude!
If you, too, think the same, this article is going to be quite an eye-opener. To begin with, it’s not just an air filter. It happens to be an integral part of the heating and cooling system that one cannot possibly do without.
The purpose of an air filter is…
…to trap or capture the pollutants or contaminants floating about in the air. The cleaner the air filters, the better the indoor air quality and vice-versa. They ensure that the air inside your home is cleaner and also keeps the inside of your HVAC system free of build-ups. So in effect, it keeps the central heating and cooling unit working without any added stress.
Here’s why changing the air filter is necessary
The root cause of most problems that crop up in an HVAC unit is the dirty air filter. As soon as you replace it with a cleaner one, there will be a marked improvement in its performance. However, you don’t have to take our word for it. Instead, look at the facts and let them speak for themselves.
1. It Improves Indoor Air Quality – The air filters have a rating known as the MERV rating. It is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the rating, the smaller the contaminants it can capture. The prime objective of the air filter is to prevent dust and other impurities from finding their way inside your house. Surprisingly, in addition to dust and debris, it can also catch dander, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. All of these are either allergens or illness-causing micro-organisms that are detrimental to our health. Their presence in the indoor air not only deteriorates its quality but also makes the residents fall ill frequently. Clean air filters trap all of these and more and keep the indoor air that you breathe healthy and hygienic.
2. It Prevents Your HVAC From Working Under Stress
– Dust and dirt particles present in the air tend to settle over fans, motors, and other moving components. When that happens, the system has to work harder to perform the same amount of cooling as before. As a result, it often heats up and trips the circuit breaker or blows a fuse. If you are really unlucky, it may cause damage to one or more components and, in extreme cases, may even run your unit to the ground. Working under stress is not good for any equipment, and the same stands true for your HVAC. Clean equipment ensures the long life of the unit. But when the dust starts accumulating inside it due to dirty air filters, it restricts the free flow of air over the heat exchanger, ultimately leading to equipment failure.
3. It Improves The Efficiency Of Your HVAC
– Clean air filters mean free and unrestricted flow of air. When there are no obstructions in the movement of air, your system works at optimum efficiency. Optimum efficiency means proper cooling, lower energy bills, and maximum comfort. Dirty air filters prevent your unit from working efficiently. Inadequate airflow and dirt inside the unit make it work harder and consume more power, thereby reducing its efficiency. Continuously running the unit in such adverse conditions can lead to its breakdown and costly repairs or replacement. In comparison, changing the air filters frequently is an inexpensive and effective option.
Other Problems Created By Dirty Air Filters
There are several other problems that result from dirty air filters. Some of them are:
1. Mold Growth – Dirty air filters are often the reason for mold growth inside the house. The clogged filters trap the moisture from the air and provide a thriving ground for the growth of both bacteria and mold. If they grow on the wrong side of the air filter, they will make the indoor air more contaminated and unhealthy.
2. Bad Odors – Clogged air filters lead to bad odors in the house. It can be as offensive as the smell of rotten eggs and dirty socks or mild as wet clothes. In any case, none of these smells is pleasant and wanted in the house. These odors are, in fact, a sign of budding trouble for your health.
3. Freezing Of Coils – In the absence of free flow of air over the coils, they tend to freeze. Sometimes the freezing is so severe that you may be able to see ice formation on your unit. Also, when this ice melts, it may create water puddles inside the house, damaging your walls and woodwork.
So, how often should the air filters be changed?
Change your air filters at least once every quarter. Though changing them every month is preferable. Do not at any time exceed the three months period as that can be detrimental to the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC.
Choosing The Right Air Filter
Purchasing the highest MERV rating air filter will not serve any purpose if it is not compatible with your heating and cooling system. You can only replace the air filter with the company recommended option. Ideally, check your current air filter specifications and replace it with a new one of the same specification. This will ensure that there are no compatibility issues.
Now that you know how important it is to change the dirty air filters, you will hopefully stick to a strict regimen in following it. At the end of the day, the cost of replacing the air filters is far less than that of bearing costly repairs or financing a new heating and cooling system.
Clean air filters guarantee unit efficiency, health and comfort of the residents, and long life of your HVAC.