Changing Filters

Something about changing your filters

1 reply
  1. August
    August says:

    Typical 1 inch wide furnace filters should be changed at least every 3 months, if not every 2 months ideally. If you have pets and/or children in the house, a filter will likely not last as long as one without extra activity throughout the home. If you run your system’s fan constantly, you will have to replace your filter sooner than folks who don’t run their system’s fan all the time. Some 4 inch wide (Hi-Efficiency) filters can last about 5 or 6 months as a general rule of thumb. Best practice is to check your filter every month if possible, and have additional filters on hand to replace as needed. A filter not only helps protect the air we breathe inside, but it also protects the equipment from excess dust and buildup. Neglecting to change out a dirty filter can actually cause furnace damage and excessive wear and tear on components after only a week or two of operation. Repeated ignition attempts, hi-limit (overheating) trips, and frequent starting and stopping of motors will cause premature failure and shorten the life expectancy of the system overall.
    Filters have a rating system called Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating. This was established to rate the effectiveness of a filter. The MERV rating scale is from 1-16, with 1 being least effective and 16 being most effective for trapping airborne particles. Ideally, you would want something between 8-12 for a typical residential furnace/air conditioning system. I suggest staying away from the pricey, heavy pleated filters that have “airflow guaranteed” stamped on the packaging. They typically boast some sort of “Allergen Defense” or “Healthy Living” line on the label as well. Not only are they expensive, they also have a very restrictive effect on airflow due to pressure drop across the filter (even brand new), which worsens as the filter actually pulls particulate out of the air. The filter itself is very effective for removing airborne particles, but because of that reason it tends to become plugged up and too restrictive very quickly. If indoor air quality is a concern, especially for allergen sensitive people and asthma sufferers, there are better alternatives for cleaning the air than an overpriced filter that will cause system performance issues.
    IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) products are abundant on the market today. EAC (Electronic Air Cleaner) units, HEPA filtration systems, UV lights, ionizers, humidifiers, charcoal filters, electrostatic filters, Ozone (activated oxygen or 03) generators… the list goes on. Of these, I recommend a company called PremierOne Products, and have personal experience with several of their products through live demonstration and personal home use. Even adding something as simple as a humidifier will help capture additional particulate from the air, as the additional moisture helps those little particles stick together, enabling your regular filter to capture them as they come through the return air ductwork. Humidifiers also enable you to keep a slightly cooler sensible temperature in the house, with the feeling of it being a few degrees warmer from the added humidity. You win again with lowered energy bills along with a more comfortable environment inside…that’s a win-win-win in my book.

    The easiest (and most important!) thing for any homeowner to do in regards to maintenance on a furnace is simply changing the filter. A mechanical system can’t take care of itself as we all know…and just like changing the oil on your car or truck, changing your furnace filter is just a good way to take care of the things that take care of you.

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