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Change Your Air Filter With the Seasons, and Other Tasks

09.24.13Furnace air filters are critical to the performance of your cooling and heating system. Every bit of heated or cooled air passes through those filters. That means every breath you and your family take depends on your air filter to remove harmful dust, pollen and other small particles that pass through the filter. An essential part of preparing for the change of seasons in the San Joaquin Valley is to check your filter, and change it if it looks dirty.

This should be a part of the homeowner’s regular maintenance routine, along with making sure objects aren’t blocking the HVAC registers in your home, that the condensate drain from your evaporator inside isn’t blocked, and that grass clippings, yard debris and other objects aren’t blocking airflow to the condensing unit outside.

For your HVAC system to be effective, it is critical to check the air filters at regular intervals. The monthly inspection of the filter applies especially if you are using standard 1-inch-thick filters. Generally speaking, the thicker, box-type filters have a longer effective life that might allow an inspection every two months. To be sure, mark your calendar or set a reminder on your smart phone or tablet.

When you do replace the air filter, take note of the filter size of the unit you are replacing, i.e. 25x19x1, 20x16x1, etc. (with the numbers representing inches). The filter should fit snugly in the filter slot to prevent any unfiltered air from getting past. At the store, look for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating on the filter packaging. MERV measures how well the filter captures the smallest particles, and for residential filters ranges from from 1-16. The lowest numbers are only effective at capturing the largest particles, so you should only select the highest MERV filters, right? Not necessarily. An air filter in the MERV 13-16 range may impede system airflow, forcing your equipment to work all the harder. Some may actually require system modifications to work properly with your cooling or heating equipment. An air filter in the MERV 8-12 range should provide an ideal blend of air quality and airflow maintenance.

If your filter resembles a sponge, it may be washable. If so, wash in soapy water, rinse repeatedly then squeeze dry and reinsert it.

For more information on finding the right air filters for your home, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We provide superior HVAC services to the San Joaquin Valley.

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.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock