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Fall is Here: Change Your Air Filters

The transition of seasons is always a good time to think about changing the air filter that plays such an important role in your home’s cooling and heating system. With Florida’s lengthy cooling season, air has circulated through your home’s forced-air HVAC system thousands of times, and an effective air filter eventually will get clogged with dust and debris. A dirty air filter will block smooth airflow in your home’s HVAC system, forcing the A/C or furnace to work harder to move air through the equipment and ductwork. This wastes energy and stresses the equipment. Similarly, with a clogged filter, dust will be more likely to collect on sensitive HVAC components, creating friction, impeding smooth operation and leading to more frequent breakdowns. An air filter working the way it’s intended not only prevents these situations but also helps improve indoor air quality. Get in the habit of inspecting the air filter monthly during the high-use summer season and during the winter if your heating system is often in operation. If you live in a particularly dusty area, or perhaps construction is occurring near or inside your home, you’ll probably want to inspect the air filter even more often. Determining whether you need to replace an air filter is easy. If it’s covered with dust and debris, or if you hold it up to a light and can’t easily see through it, you’ll want to change the air filter. When you decide to change air filters, don’t make the mistake of selecting the cheapest available replacement – a flimsy, flat-panel filter that cost a couple bucks at the grocery or...

How to Remember to Change an Air Filter

Believe it or not, the air filter for your home’s HVAC system is one of its most important parts. It keeps the indoor components clean, prevents excessive wear on the parts and maintains the system’s energy efficiency. However, you’re not alone if you forget to check and change it routinely. These tips might help you remember to check and change the filter on a regular basis. Neglecting it is the primary cause of high energy costs, premature part failure and reduced indoor air quality. When you get your utility bills. Since heating and cooling account for half your energy bill, your HVAC system and the weather probably cross your mind as you look at the gas and electric bills. If you’ve been running the system with a dirty filter, chances are they’re higher than they need to be. Check the filter on the day you receive the bill. Use automated reminders. Your phone may have an app that triggers a reminder once a month. Don’t clear the reminder until you’ve had a chance to look the filter over, especially during the peak cooling and heating seasons. Don’t hide the spare filters. Instead of tucking the new filters away in a closet or the garage, put them in an obvious place and change where you keep them monthly so the location doesn’t become a habit. Reward yourself. Since a dirty air filter raises energy bills, reward yourself for checking and changing it routinely. Give yourself permission to lower the temperature a degree or two indoors as a reward everyone will appreciate during the long, hot summers in Orlando. A dirty...

How to Understand HVAC Air Filter Ratings

Air filters remove particulates and similar pollutants from your indoor air while helping to maintain the internal airflow your cooling equipment needs to work properly. Regular filter changes are necessary, but you might find yourself confused by the different types of ratings assigned to filters. Here is a brief introduction to HVAC air filter ratings and what they mean. MERV Ratings A common rating for HVAC filters is the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is an industry standard rating throughout the United States. MERV numbers indicate how effective an air filter is at trapping and holding particulates of sizes ranging from 0.3–10 microns. Even the largest of the particles in this range are still very small; human hairs, for example, average about 100 microns in width. Standard MERV ratings range from 1–16, with higher numbers indicating better performance at removing particulates. MERV filters rated 1–4 provide some filtration, but are the least effective. Filters with MERV 9–12 ratings usually provide the level of filtration most homes need. Higher-MERV filters of 13–16 offer excellent filtration, but may be too thick to use in many HVAC systems. HEPA Filters In some cases, even higher MERV ratings may be needed. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters range from MERV 17–20 and are able to remove almost 100 percent of the contaminants in the air. HEPA filters are not often used in residential settings. They are more common in environments where air quality is extremely important, such as medical facilities, computer clean rooms, and some types of manufacturing plants. HEPA filters are extremely thick and require specialized mountings...

Should Your Air Filter be Changed More Frequently During Summer?

Air filter maintenance is essential if you want your cooling and heating system to operate at peak efficiency year round. This means inspecting the filter regularly, and changing it before it gets clogged and starts restricting system airflow. With summer here, you might be wondering, “Should the filter be changed more often in the summer?” That question has a relatively simple answer. Of course, you should. The answer is somewhat obvious, in that in a mild climate like Central Florida, summer’s the season when your HVAC system gets the most work. It’s running most of the time, trying to keep your home cool and dry. And the more air that’s being pumped through an air filtration system, the more dust and debris will get captured in the filter. It gets dirtier quicker, so you need to check and change it more often. In the winter, the Orlando area can get fairly chilly by Florida standards. However, you’re still not using the furnace or other type of heating system nearly as much as you use the A/C during the cooling season, which actually is much longer than the calendar summer. Generally speaking, you’ll want to check the air filter once per month during the heavy-use seasons, and very three months when the HVAC system’s not running as much. If you want to be safe, however, just get in the habit of looking at it every month year round. A clean air filter will allow the blower fan or air handler to push air across the A/C evaporator coil and circulate it through the house without unnecessary restrictions from dirt and...

A Wet Air Filter Could Be a Sign of Bigger Air Conditioner Problems

The air filter is a simple, yet vital component of the HVAC system. The filter protects the blower motor and evaporator coil from damage and poor performance caused by debris accumulation and mold development. For the best cooling results, the filter should be changed as the manufacturer suggests, installed correctly and remain dry. If you notice a wet air filter when changing yours out, it may actually signal a bigger problem with the air conditioner. Wet Air Filter Even in our humid Central Florida region, the air filter should always be dry. A wet air filter loses efficiency and restricts airflow across the blower. This can cause the blower motor to fail, which will put your air conditioner out of service until a major repair is performed. A wet filter also promotes mold development—a serious indoor air quality problem. The following are common reasons why you may have a wet air filter: Location: Check to make sure the filter is installed in the right place. Filters are typically installed in a return duct slot preceding the air conditioner or behind each return grille. Leaky dehumidifier: If you have a whole-house dehumidifier attached to your HVAC system, check to see if it is leaking water on the filter. Condensation: As the home is cooled by the air conditioner, cool return air can cause condensation on metal ductwork around the filter. If this is the problem, the ducts should be insulated to inhibit condensation and reduce heat gain/loss. Condensate drain: The condensate drain removes condensate that drips from the evaporator coil. The drain is susceptible to blockages from mold, algae and debris that accompanies the dripping condensate....