Dirty Air Filters Are Bad News

Posted by admin on September 16, 2014, at 2:45 pm

Dirty Air Filters Are Bad NewsThe hot and cold weather in Dayton means your HVAC system operates year-round, keeping you cool during the summer and warm in the winter. Maintaining your heat pump, air conditioner or furnace is essential for efficiency, which translates to lower utility bills for you and lower carbon dioxide emissions for the environment.

Aside from your annual preventive maintenance call, there is one task upon which the efficiency of your system hinges, and that’s replacing dirty air filters.

The Effects of Dirty Air Filters

Air filters serve two important purposes. First, they filter out dust in the air to prevent it from building up on essential components inside your HVAC system. Secondly, they remove pollutants from the air in your home to improve your indoor air quality.

Dirty air filters can have devastating effects on both your heating and cooling system and your air quality:

  • They restrict the airflow in your system. This may result in the equipment overheating and shutting down, which can damage components and require expensive repairs. Poor airflow also means less air moving through your home, reducing your comfort level, and making your system work harder to compensate, therefore increasing your energy bills.
  • Dirty filters allow dust to enter the system and build up on essential components like the coils, fan, motor and heat exchanger. Dust buildup reduces system efficiency and may cause the early failure of these components, again resulting in expensive repairs, and in extreme cases, the need for replacement of the entire system.
  • They don’t clean your home’s air. Particles including dust, mold spores and pollen can have significant adverse effects on your health, from exacerbating allergies, COPD and asthma to causing respiratory problems down the road.

Protect the System and Breathe Easier with a Clean Filter

Experts recommend that you check your air filter on a monthly basis and replace it with a good-quality, clean filter when the filter material is covered with debris. Depending on several factors, including whether you have pets and how dusty your neighborhood is, you may need to replace dirty air filters every month or every two or three months.

Choosing the Best Filter for Your Needs

Air filters aren’t created equally. Some offer only minimal protection for the HVAC system and very little in the way of air cleaning, while others remove a large proportion of harmful contaminants from the air in the home.

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, scale is an industry standard that rates the quality of an air filter based on how many particles of a certain size it will trap. In most cases, the scale ranges from 1 to 12 for residential systems, though some home systems are able to accommodate MERV filters rated up to 16. Higher MERV values usually are reserved for commercial buildings, such as hospitals and manufacturing operations.

  • MERV 1 to 4: These filters are the cheapest you can buy, but they’re flat and made of fiberglass, which means they don’t have enough surface area to trap as many particles as a pleated filter, and they allow smaller particles to pass through and re-circulate throughout the home. Filters rated from 1 to 4 will only trap about 20 percent of particles that are larger than 10 microns, including pollen and dust mites, and are virtually useless against smaller particulates.
  • MERV 5 to 8: These filters are pleated, which provides a greater surface area to trap more particles, and they’re denser, so they’ll trap particles as small as 3 microns. MERV 5 filters will trap up to 34 percent of particles between 3 and 10 microns in size, such as mold spores and hairspray particles, while MERV 8 filters trap up to 85 percent of these smaller particles. Ratings of 5 to 8 are perfectly sufficient for most residential air cleaning needs.
  • MERV 9 to 12 filters are of the highest quality available for standard residential systems. MERV 9 filters will trap 85 percent of particles between 3 and 10 microns and up to 50 percent of those between 1 and 3 microns, including humidifier, lead dust and some bacteria. MERV 12 filters trap up to 89 percent of particles between 1 and 3 microns. These filters are best for those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, allergies and COPD.

Always check the specifications of your system before upgrading your air filter to ensure proper airflow, which is critical for the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC equipment.

For more expert advice about how dirty air filters affect your health and your HVAC system, please contact us in the Dayton area at Henscey Electric, Heating & Air Conditioning.

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