Comedian Rodney Dangerfield always lamented he got no respect. Well, either do the air filters in our homes’ heating and cooling system(s). Few of us realize what an important role air filters play in our health and in the cost of heating and cooling our homes.
A filter should be properly sized and retained in place so that ALL of the air flowing through the system passes through the air filter. Nearly 60% of all filters I inspect allow unfiltered air to flow around the filter. When filters are improperly installed or maintained, dirt builds up on duct coils and causes condensate water to be diverted down into the furnace, where it will damage the heat exchanger and create a potential combustion/exhaust hazard.
What kind of filter is best? Fiberglass and spongy foam-like filters allow too much dirt to pass through (they’re less than 50% efficient). Reusable filters can’t be sanitized, e.g., washing doesn’t remove mold or bacteria which then re-grows on the filter. A disposable high efficiency pleated filter does an outstanding job that’s hard to beat.
Be sure to change your filters regularly as indicated on the label. Why?
A dirty, clogged filter actually releases dirt back into the air stream as more dirt strikes it. It can even fragment and release filter pieces.
Clogged filters cause reduced air flow, leading to many costly problems, and even potential health issues. A furnace operating with a clogged filter gets too hot, which can actually warp the heat exchanger and cause a leak of exhaust gases into the home. When air conditioning operates with a clogged filter, the ducts get extra cold and water vapor starts condensing in/on them, which allows mold to flourish.
How does the air filter impact your energy and maintenance costs? A substandard or malfunctioning air filter can nearly double your operating costs and cause excessive, unnecessary wear, tear and damage to your system.
MAINTENANCE TIP: Always turn off the air flow (thermostat or disconnect switch) before removing the air filter. Otherwise, dirt/pet hairs that were blocked by the filter will flow through and permanently clog blowers and duct coils.