HVAC Maintenance Tip – ‘Tis the Season to Change Your Filter!
Changing the filter in your HVAC system is one of the least expensive, easiest, and yet one of the most important things to do when it comes to routine maintenance and preservation of your system. Changing of the filter should happen once every 30 days, ideally. Filters are relatively inexpensive and can be found in most stores that carry home improvement items such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc.
While the process of airflow through your HVAC system is simple enough to understand not everybody has a clear understanding and/or they just don’t think about it. When your system is running in the spring and summer months it’s pulling air from the inside of your home and through the filter, cooling it, and then pushing it through the ventilation into each room of your home. The air is then recycled through the return vents and goes through the same process until the inside temperature of your home reaches what it was set to, at which point it shuts off. Your system will continue to cycle this way as temperatures fluctuate and each time it cycles on and pulls air from inside your home it is also pulling in dust and pollen that was let in through windows and doorways, and carried in on your clothing from the outside, which is then caught by the filter. Some people will spend the extra money for a filter that promises to catch more of these allergy offenders thereby reducing or even eliminating allergic reactions within the home, providing more comfort. While these filters may help with one’s allergies they also inhibit airflow within your HVAC system. A regular filter is the same as one that reduces allergens. The difference is the size of the holes in the filter. By having smaller holes in the filter you are able to catch smaller particles and allow less to pass through. The particles stay on the filter and over time build up until the filter is removed and cleaned or replaced. As they build up on the filter they begin to restrict air flow. Take a kitchen sink strainer for example; there are two different kinds of strainers. One strainer has large holes and the other is more of a mesh. If I were to pour a pot of broccoli and water into the sink while using the large holed strainer the water would quickly drain but some of the smaller particles from the head of the broccoli would go through the strainer and down the drain as well. If I were to do the same thing using the mesh like strainer none of the broccoli would go down the drain but the water would have a much more difficult time draining also. By restricting the air flow in your HVAC system during the cooling season it could cause your air conditioner to freeze up, a motor to burn out, or cause other costly repairs.
During the winter months it is equally important to mind the frequency of changing your filters because of the increase in germs and illness. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz humidity during the summer months is denser than germs therefore creating a ceiling between us and the germs, preventing sickness. In the winter months when the humidity is lacking there is no protective barrier which is why people get sick more frequently. Much like the air conditioner your heater pulls air from the inside of your home, goes through the filter, heats it, and then pushes it through the ventilation to each of the rooms in your home. Therefore if someone in your home gets sick the germs continue to cycle through your ventilation time and time again. Changing your filters will aid in reducing the longevity of a germ induced illness and prevent it from reinfecting that person as well as others. Changing your filters regularly during the heating season will also help to prevent costly repairs.
So… what are you waiting for? Go change that filter!