Ok, we sound like a broken record...
but I can't tell you how many service calls are the result of a clogged, dirty filter.
Each day, when you heat and cool your home through a forced air (ductless) system, air flows through the ductwork in your home or office bringing warmth or cooling to your living space.
These systems are designed to have a "return". Basically what that means is that the air cycles through the system bringing along with it a collection of skin cells, animal dander, hair, lint, and other airborne particulates.
This same air is either heated (in the cold months) or cooled (during summer), and continues to circulate through your home.
So, in essence if you don't keep up with filter maintenance, you're recirculating this 'mess' throughout your house for you and your family, and pets, to breathe. Sounds kind of nasty, doesn't it? Well, it is.
The determination of how often you should change your filter is by evaluating how clean your air is (smokers in the house?) if you have pets (the more pets...the more dander), and seasonal effects (pollen). We like to say, pay your mortgage or taxes each month...change your filter. The first day of each month is a good reminder.
The bigger issue relating to filters for your system, (as if that accumulation of 'dirt' isn't enough...) is that when your furnace filter becomes blocked or clogged here's what can happen:
- POOR HEALTH: Unhealthy air can circulate through your home when you have a clogged filter.
- Infants, small children, older adults and those with allergies, asthma and compromised immune systems can suffer from the quaity of the air.
- INCREASED ENERGY COSTS: Your furnace has to work harder in order to compensate for a clogged or obstructed filter, resulting in increased energy costs (as much as 15% until the filter is serviced).
- This is the greatest cause of high energy bills.
- FROZEN SYSTEMS: Seasonal (Summer) troubles may become evident when an obstructed filter causes the evaporator coil to freeze, preventing your system from cooling the air.
- Eventually this will cause system failure.
- INSUFFICIENT HEATING OR COOLING: Your furnace just doesn't work properly if the conditions surrounding its operation are incorrect.
- You can't be comfortable when your system isn't working properly.
- COMPLETE FURNACE FAILURE: Ignoring your filter eventually can lead to the complete failure of your furnace. So, in essence the ounce of cure can lead to thousands of dollars spent on a new furnace prematurely.
So, how do you avoid this situation?
Pay attention to your filters.
If your system uses a disposable filter it's an easy DIY job for many. You should see a hinged door that conceals the home of the filter. Remove it carefully and avoid disrupting the dust and debris in the filter, and swap it out for a new, clean filter. These filters; however, are only about 5% efficient and are limited as to what they will catch from the air. Also, be sure to close the filter door completely otherwise the furnace will not start up as a safety precaution.
Many local hvac contractors offer annual maintenance which will get you on the right track and a tech can easily show you how to change your filter or make suggestions.
Some homeowners have opted for pleated filters which don't require monthly changing, but too often that gives permission to you to ignore the filter totally. The result....well, all of the above! These filters are about 40% efficient.
There are filters that can be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher to and then replaced in your system.
The ultimate 'creme de la creme' of filtration systems is an electronic filtration system. You can learn more about that here.
The takeaway: If you don't have a system to properly filtert the air in your home or office, your lungs will become the filter...
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