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An Air Filter Primer: How and When to Change It and More

An Air Filter Primer: How and When to Change It and MoreChanging or cleaning the air filter on your A/C, heat pump or furnace on a regular basis is HVAC maintenance 101. It’s a simple job that will improve your cooling and heating system’s energy efficiency and performance in many ways.

How a Clean Air Filter Helps

You should replace or clean the HVAC air filter on a regular basis because a dirty filter can result in serious consequences. A filter that is clogged will restrict airflow, which forced the blower motor to work harder. This extra work causes unnecessary wear and tear, and if the filter is dirty enough for a prolonged period, the extra stress could cause the motor to fail. Insufficient airflow also can cause issues throughout your system, including with the A/C compressor and coils, not too mention reducing the amount of conditioned air that arrives in your home’s rooms.

The second main issue is that dirty filters can’t remove contaminants in the air as well as a clean one. This allows particles such as mold, mildew and dust to pass through and re-enter your home. This can cause breathing and other health issues for home occupants. Finally, mold and bacteria can collect on your air conditioner’s indoor coil and lower system efficiency.

How to Change the Filter

Fortunately it’s simple to avoid those problems. Check the filter by pulling it out of its slot at least once per month and holding it up to a light bulb. If you can see through it, the filter doesn’t have to be replaced. Once you can’t see through it, which usually takes one to three months, it’s time to slide in a new filter. Double-check that the new filter is inserted in the same direction as the old one, indicated by an arrow on the frame. If your HVAC system requires reusable filters, follow the equipment instructions for how and when to clean the filter.

There are many different filters you can buy to replace yours, so do your homework. The most important thing is that it’s the right size. When choosing from a selection of standard air filters, it’s important to know that pleated filters offer higher efficiency than flat-panel filters. This is because the pleats create more surface area both for airflow and particulate removal.

For assistance maintaining your Fresno area home’s HVAC system, please contact our professionals at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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