Advice BlogHVACChange your dirty air filters correctly

May 12, 2021by Ed Gabrish0

Clogged and dirty air filters are the single most common cause of HVAC failure. Many homeowners make the problem worse by installing the wrong grade of filter, which can lead to frozen coils and system breakdown.

It’s essential to change your air filter regularly to prevent dust, mold, and other particles from clogging the system and making you sick. But you must do it correctly to avoid damaging your system.

Dirty air filters have to blow harder to get the same amount of air through. This condition means they use more significant amounts of energy, costing you more money in the long run.

Don’t expect dirty air filters to work consistently. If you find that your home is too hot in one room and too cold in another, that could be due to a dirty air filter some-where in the system.

Letting air filters get clogged runs the risk of your HVAC system overheating or freezing. A dirty filter can damage the internal coils, resulting in costly repairs and even installing a completely new system.

Mold is one of the worst things to get stuck in an HVAC system. Since mold is alive, it can spread throughout the system. It is also dangerous for you and your family to breathe in moldy air from your HVAC system. Following the manufacturer’s recommended filter replacement schedule can prevent mold from expanding.

Optimally, you should change your air filter every two months. And, changing a filter is simple- you slide out the old one and slide in the new one. Make sure to identify the airflow direction printed on the filter and insert accordingly.

But you do need to make sure you put in exactly the right filter!

Did you know that there are many different grades of air filters? When upgrading your system, it’s not just the size of the filter that matters. Installing the wrong grade of filter could lead to frozen coils and damage to your HVAC system.

Did you know that for a 20x25x1 filter size, pleated air filters are at least 20 times more efficient than fiberglass filters?

Install the proper grade of air filter

All air filters are rated using an industry-standard metric called the MERV system. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, and it measures how small particles have to be to get through your air filter. The MERV rating system was designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (AHRAE).

The MERV score of an air filter ranges from 1 to 20. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing particles. But don’t assume that a higher number is automatically better.

It is imperative that you not install a filter with too high a MERV score for your HVAC system. Like most engines, your HVAC system’s compressor has a limit, and restricted airflow could lead to frozen coils and damage to your system.

What kind of MERV rating should replace your dirty air filter?

MERV ratings vary, depending on the size of your home and the environment of your dwelling. Most residential HVAC systems suggest using air filters with a mid-range MERV score, between 7 and 12. 13 is considered state of the art for homes but only for modern, more powerful HVAC systems.

By comparison, expect to find MERV ratings above 13 typically in medical settings, like surgery rooms, where a single particle could mean life or death.

Any MERV rating below a 7 is considered low and commonly found in simple win-dow air conditioning units.

If you are unsure which MERV rating to use, underestimate. Your HVAC system will benefit more from a lower-rated filter. As previously mentioned, a filter too re-strictive for your HVAC system could lead to frozen coils and damage your system.

Did you know that filter frames made of beverage board stay strong through humidity and temperatures up to 200° F?

Pros and Cons of a high MERV rating

The advantage of having an HVAC system that can utilize a higher MERV-rated filter is fewer particles distributed throughout the dwelling and perception of better air quality for you and your family.

Keep in mind that an HVAC system with a high MERV-rated filter will consume more energy to function correctly. Such energy consumption correlates with a need for more frequent filter replacements and slightly higher operating costs. HVAC Systems with higher MERV ratings tend to be more expensive.

So, understand the maximum MERV rating for your system when choosing a re-placement air filter. You can often save money by purchasing a carton of them and reduce trips to the store.

Benefits of changing your dirty air filters regularly

Routine air filter replacement helps prevent a breakdown of your HVAC system. It also saves money in the long run and helps keep your air fresh and clean (And if you want even fresher, cleaner air, why not consider an air purification system?)

Did you know that synthetic media provides significantly higher particulate efficiency than standard cotton media?

Right now is the best time to take a look at your HVAC system and change your air filter before your system breaks down during the dog days of Summer!

But be sure to do it right. Installing the wrong grade of air filter could damage your system.

Is Your HVAC System Ready for Summer Heat?

Routine service is necessary to ensure your HVAC system is operating at it’s peak performance. A regular maintenance program will increase the lifespan of your system, but if it’s been a while an inspection can remedy issues now so they won’t plague your family later.

Ask about a ComfortPlan when you schedule your appointment. Not only will you ensure the right preventative maintenance will get done, you’ll enjoy preferential scheduling and additional savings.

Use the form here to start the process. Or speak with a Schaible’s customer service expert about scheduling your appointment, and get answers to your HVAC questions. Just call 908-537-6770

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