During the cold winter months and the hot summer months we turn relentlessly to our air handling system to either provide us with warmth or cool air to get us through the fluctuating and extreme weather conditions present outside our home’s doors. Although our air conditioning/furnace systems are so vital to us during most part of the year, the air filter component of our systems are often neglected and not commonly kept-up with which can play a significant role in the way these systems run and even more importantly the quality of the air inside your indoor environment.
What should you know about your HVAC filter inside your home and what steps do you need to take to maintain both the proper performance of your air handling system and good air quality inside your living space?
Find out important information about your HVAC filter below that will help you to successfully store the best air filter inside your home’s air conditioning/furnace system.
What Does an Air Filter Do in a House
When you are changing your home’s temperature, your heating and air conditioning systems pull in the air from the room and blows the conditioned air through the ducts to the rooms in your home. The air filter in your home is positioned where air is pulled into the system, allowing the heating or cooling process to begin.
The air filter in your home acts as a barrier, trapping airborne particles that get sucked in with the air and shields it from blocking the blower and even clogging up the coils. If a clog occurs inside the coils than it will be impossible to heat or cool the air passing over them and can potentially damage the system. Therefore, the air filter helps not only keep the system doing its job, but it also helps the systems lifespan – by protecting it to last longer and keep it running efficiently.
Do HVAC Air Filters Work?
Do air filters really work inside your home by preventing contaminants from flooding your air and helping to maintain your air handling system? The answer is yes, they really do. According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, so it is really important to maintain clean indoor air.
By remembering to check to your air filter every month, you will be able to enjoy the following benefits:
- Longer System Lifespan: When you neglect your air handling system it can easily reduce the overall lifespan of the system, sometimes nearly in half. If you want to increase the life of your air system, you will want to schedule annual professional air conditioning maintenance and keep up with filter replacements.
- Less Fixing & Repairs: Clogged air filters within your air handling system can lead to restricted airflow, overheating, and a back-up of dirt in the entire HVAC system. When any of this happens, it can mean repairs & more frequently needed services to the system.
- Increase Energy Savings: As dirt gathers and accumulates on your filter it can slow down the flow of air. This in turn, makes your HVAC system work much harder and longer than it should. When this happens, it will increase the amount of energy used and you will see this increase on your electricity bill. The U.S. Department of Energy even backed this claim saying that clean air filters can save you around 5-15% on your energy bill.
- Improved Indoor Air Quality: The quality of the air inside indoor environments is important as folks spend the majority of their time indoors. To accomplish cleaner indoor air, it is vital to keep up with filter replacements and professional maintenance. In addition to replacing your air filters, you may also want to use an air purifier to help maintain improved indoor air quality.
There can also be problems that you may face when you improperly maintain your HVAC system and the air filter inside this system. As the air filter gets clogged it will increasingly restrict the air flow through the machine and lead to an array of issues.
Here are the top three most common issues you will face when you have dirty, clogged filters in your air handling system:
- Reduced Function: If your air filter is clogged it will mean that air flow will be restricted, and less air will be moving throughout the environment. This can lead to an impairment in function with less warm/cool air flowing from the system- which can mean severe discomfort for those in the indoor area.
- Issues with Fan Motors: The fan motor is designed to turn the blades and push air flow through your home. When the air filter gets clogged it can mean that the air systems fan motor will have to work harder to pull air inside the indoor environment. And even worse, this may lead to a strain on the motor that can cause it to break down.
- Higher Energy Bill: When your home’s air conditioning system has to work harder to pump out cool air into the area, it will result in more energy use. Also, even your air filter can potentially increase your energy consumption, as the filter fills up and is not replaced it will become harder to push air through which will take up more time and work to produce the air into the home. It may become evident of this increase in energy from your home’s energy bill where you will see a spike in the total amount that needs to be paid.
Types of Air Filters for HVAC
Have you ever stopped to consider the type of HVAC air filter you have in your home’s air handling system? Often times, this is something that we don’t put a lot of time and consideration into, but should we really look into this more in-depth – yes! There are four main types of HVAC air filters that people typically use in their home, these types of filters include the following:
- Fiberglass Filter: This throwaway (disposable) filter is the most common type of filter found in HVAC systems. The filter is layered with fiberglass fibers that are laid over each other to form the media of the filter. Typically, this is reinforced with a metal grating support that holds the fiberglass up to prevent failure. You will be able to easily purchase this type of filter in a store and it is one of the cheapest options available for HVAC filters. However, it does a poor job of effectively trapping particles, which can lead to poor indoor air quality.
- HEPA Filter: A top of the line HVAC filter for your air handling system. The HEPA filter actually filters the air passing through them at a very fine scale. These filters can capture up to 97% of all particulate matter and remove nearly all allergens from your home’s air. Unfortunately, there are flaws with this type of air filter, as they are too efficient and block airflow. This can mean you will notice a lack of air in your home and can increase your energy bill substantially.
- Pleated Filter: A step up from fiberglass filters, but with increased efficiency in trapping dust particles and other airborne contaminants. A pleated filter is a good option for those who need dust particles to be trapped in the filter to prevent allergic reactions. The majority of air handling systems and corresponding filters only focus on particle filtration through the use of this type of filter, however, many pleated filters do not address chemical pollutants and odors. Be sure to look for a pleated filter that works against particulates as well as contains neutralization capabilities for chemical pollutant removal like the EnviroKlenz HVAC Filter.
- Washable Filter: One of the most economical filters because you don’t have to replace them every month. Washable filters are designed to stop debris from going through the filter, so they work better when they are dirty. This type of filter is very flawed though, as it needs to have a layer of protective dirt on the filter to be effective.
Home Air Filter Replacement
Replacing your home’s air filter is one of the easiest and quickest repairs you can make to your air handling system. However, it is also one of the most important maintenance requirements for your system. When you replace your home’s air filter you are ensuring that your home has a clean air filter that can both help the life of the air handling system and increases the quality of air inside your home. Although this is an important task that is a must with your HVAC system, there are many filters that go unchanged for way too long. We are going to discuss how frequently you should change your air filter and the easiest way to install the air filter into your air handling system.
How Often Should Air Filters Be Changed
The life of your filter depends on several different environmental factors, such as the density of airborne contaminants, the use of airborne contaminants in the environment, an increase in the systems activity, and even the type of filter used. If you use fiberglass filters you will need to change the filter every month. When you have a pleated filter, it can last up to 90 days – and with a more efficient pleated filter it can sustain for up to 6 months. And if you have a washable filter you can change that filter every 5 years but be sure to wash the filter every month. Following these replacement guidelines per filter type will help both your air handling system and your indoor air quality.
How to Install Air Filter
Most modern air handling systems have the filter located close to or right next to the blower unit. Once you have located your air filter, take off the grill or box cover that is holding it in place and remove the dirty filter. Dispose of it properly or clean it thoroughly if it is a washable filter and place a new one into the system with the air flow pointing toward the blower.
The air filter inside your home is an important component to your air handling system and making sure that you properly upkeep this component is necessary to increasing the overall life of your system and improving the overall air quality throughout your home environment.