Furnace Air Filter Maintenance - We all know that fresh clean air is important to our health. Furnace Air Filter MaintenanceWe should also know that our home air filters need to be kept clean. Kept clean not only for our health but also to protect the air conditioning and heating equipment. A dirty (or worse, no filter at all) air filter can cause our heating and air conditioning equipment to fail. By maintaining a good air filter maintenance schedule we protect our health and the heating and cooling equipment.

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance - Importance of Air Flow

Before we discuss the different types of air conditioning and heating furnace filters and which one is the best for you, I want to stress the importance of keeping your air conditioning and heating furnace filters clean. Airflow is very important to the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Furnace filters play a key role in maintaining the proper airflow. Whether it be your A.C. system or your Heating system, both HVAC systems need the proper amount of designed airflow. Airflow throughout the HVAC system. Dirty HVAC furnace filters restrict the airflow. That results in higher energy and HVAC repair costs to you.

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Furnace Air Filter Maintenance and Health

Indoor air pollution causes the filtering media and refining the air we breathe a necessity for healthy living. Granted, it takes the best of HVAC air filtering media and technology to stop the aforementioned hazards, but the better we can filter the air in our living spaces the better we protect ourselves and our health from harmful particulates and compounds. It is a fact that certain dwellings cause people to become or remain ill.

Quality IAQ

When an indoor air quality program is instituted to eliminate indoor air pollution in these environments, people begin to recover from illnesses that seemed insurmountable. The air we breathe inside of buildings can be toxic to our health and needs to be addressed before our health is affected in a negative way. You will find indoor air quality solutions on these pages that will help you with the sick building syndrome. Take it seriously now and breathe easier and healthier later.

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Furnace Air Filter Maintenance - Furnace Filter Categories

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance | HVAC & Indoor Air QualityThere are different definitions, categories, and ratings for HVAC filtering media. High Performance HVAC will do its best to take the confusion out of this and help you better understand these different categories and ratings so you may choose for yourself. First of all, HVAC furnace filters are rated by a MERV value.

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a method developed by ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) to test the effectiveness of HVAC air filters. The higher the MERV number the higher the effectiveness of the HVAC furnace filters to block certain particles and compounds. There are three distinct categories of HVAC air filters. These are:

HVAC Air Filter Categories
  • Mechanical Air Filters – This is your typical off-the-shelf throw-away HVAC filter. This filter collects particles in its filtering medium. After it collects so many particles you simply remove it, throw it away, and replace it with another. Note that some mechanical filter media are washable. HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air filters) are also in this category. There are three sub-categories of mechanical air filters. These are:
Mechanical Air Filter Categories | Furnace Air Filter Maintenance
  1. A1 and A2 – these are the standard 1 inch thick filters. These are typically rated MERV 1 to MERV 4.
  2. B filter media are 2 to 4 inches thick. These filters typically range from MERV 1 to MERV 12.
  3. C filter media represent the HEPA filters. MERV ratings for these filters exceed MERV 13 and are the most expensive.
  • Electronic Air Cleaners – The electronic air cleaner does not qualify for a MERV rating. Because its efficiency can change depending on how clean it is. It is important that electronic air cleaners are cleaned on a biannual basis (more frequently in dusty environments) for best performance. Additionally, these work best when used in conjunction with mechanical filtering media.
  • Gas-Phase Absorption – uses carbon to absorb odors and gases from the air stream. This media is not very effective at removing particulates and is used mainly in laboratory and industrial settings.

It is important to understand that the better the mechanical filter is at filtering the air the faster it will load up. The faster it will become clogged with particles. This can affect the performance of your equipment and the frequency of filter changes. Unless your dwelling is particle and dust-free do not believe that the filter will last for three months. This is despite the air conditioner filter manufacturer’s claims. Additionally, it is imperative that the filter has the proper fit. Absolutely no air leaks around the frame which holds the filter.

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance - Planned Maintenance

Understanding how HVAC air filters work is important. How they work to eliminate particles from the air is important. Additionally, understanding the different types and ratings for HVAC filters will help you. Understanding all this helps you take action to set up a planned filter-changing routine. It is recommended that HVAC air filters at least be checked every 30 days for excessive load up of particles.

If the filter is excessively loaded on a thirty-day check then you need to narrow the time. Possibly 3 weeks or relax that schedule if they are not loaded up. Some modern digital thermostats come with an air filter reminder feature. The reminder will flash based on the number of days or runtime of the fan. These thermostats help you remember to change or check your HVAC air filter at regular intervals.

Primary Reason for Filtering the Air

The primary reason for air filters is to protect the equipment first and then clean the air. The basic air filter will not do much to clean the air for the dwelling. Additionally, it only provides a minimum amount of protection for the equipment. Upgrading to better filters will help the equipment. It will also filter more particulates from the air inside the dwelling. However, since these filters filter more particulates they need an increased schedule for maintenance. In other words, change the filters more often especially if you have the better filters. (as described in the filter categories above).

In closing, remember that HVAC air filters are very necessary. Necessary not only to keep particles out of the air inside the dwelling but also to protect the equipment. If you don’t have a filter or there is a filter that is clogged the HVAC equipment will fail. You will lose your HVAC comfort system until corrective action is taken. Set an air filter schedule and stick to it so that you keep your air clean and the equipment protected.

The following is a true story of a service call where an extremely dirty furnace air filter was found:

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance - Real Savings

The technician arrived at the customer’s residence on a no heat call. Greeted customer and went straight to the thermostat. Turned T-stat to heat and turned up to the highest set point. Checked the filter and found it almost completely blocked with dust. Changed the filter and went to the furnace. Checked the unit and found the limit switch open. Replaced limit and furnace started. Rollout flames became the next issue.

Because the filter was dirty and airflow was restricted it caused an unusual amount of soot build-up. Soot build-up in the heat exchanger. Technically speaking, it was a pressure problem. The pressure around the blower created a negative pressure too close to the burners. This caused roll-out flames and exacerbated the soot build-up. Roll out is when the flames come out the front of the unit. The flames roll into the control area of the unit. The reason these flames “roll out” is because the path they are designed to follow is blocked off or plugged. This is a very dangerous problem and could very well have been prevented by regular air conditioner filter maintenance.

Lesson Learned

Finally, the unit was in a tight closet. It made the job of tearing the unit down and cleaning the heat exchanger much more difficult. The job took 3 hours to complete. The technician departed location with a check for $172.00. $172.00 that the customer could have spent on other things. Consequently, change your furnace filters and your air conditioning filters on a regular basis and avoid problems!

Furnace Filter Maintenance

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance