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Most of us know that we should change our furnace filters on a ‘regular’ basis, but what does that mean? How much does it really impact the efficiency of our HVAC unit? The answers always seem to be ‘every house is different and there are many factors that determine how often your heating and air conditioning filters should be replaced.’ While this is not very helpful, we do know if you wait too long operating efficiency begins to decline.
As efficiency drops, operating costs increase. The dust that does not get collected by your filter gets redistributed back into your home, and while that can be bothersome if you are in charge of dusting, the bigger issue is the dust that collects on the fan, blower motor, and evaporator coil of your system. This can cause maintenance problems and impact your equipment’s performance, which leads to service calls and that just costs more money! On the flipside – if you change your air filters more often than necessary, it is equivalent to throwing money away.

How do you determine when a filter is dirty?
Many thermostats have ‘filter change indicators’ to remind you to make the change at a pre-determined interval and some thermostats can be programmed to remind you at your preferred interval. These reminders are okay, but don’t have much real value because they aren’t an indication of when the filter is actually becoming dirty enough to restrict air flow and begin effecting unit operation.
The best thing to do is a monthly inspection of your air filter. When it is visibly dirty enough, change it and write the date on the side of your air handler, duct system, or where ever your filter is installed. After a year of doing this you will have established a very good guide for when it is best to change your home’s furnace or air conditioner filter and you can make it a habit.

Residential Air Filter Change Guidelines
Here are some guidelines to follow in determining when to change your residential HVAC air filter:
-At the beginning of Heating & Cooling seasons
-During and after any significant home renovation
-After a professional has completed the cleaning of your furnace ducts
-When a decrease in flow is noticed at the registers
-When a professional HVAC technician measures a significant increase in pressure drop during Preventive Maintenance service
-Upon inspection, you note that the filter is loaded up with dust or debris or is damaged

Residential Air Filter Types
There are several choices in the 1-inch variety of residential air filters:
Fiberglass or Polyester ‘Throwaway’ Panel Air Filters – These air filters cheap, but are designed to remove only the larger particles from the air (and are actually very inefficient at doing so). ´Throwaway´ Panel air filters do have a very low resistance to the flow of air and, for this reason, are the filters most often sold for home units.
Pleated Air Filters – These filters cost more than ´Throwaway´ Panel air filters, but they will remove much more dust, without adversely affecting the resistance to flow, because of their higher surface area design and use of higher efficiency filter media. Look for the new MERV 13 Standard and High Capacity types.
Washable Electrostatic filters are available which are washed and NOT discarded, though care needs to be taken to wash them AND dry them well as you never want to introduce water (ie mold) into a HVAC system.

Summary
Change your residential air filter to maintain peak airflow efficiency, as indicated above. Preferably switch from ´throwaway´ panel air filters to more efficient Pleated Air Filters.
Nobody wants to breathe this in!
In Emergency situations, please never hesitate to call Christy Ikner @ 615.405.4923