Calgary Heating and Air Conditioning: Importance of HVAC Filter Maintenance
The furnace filter is a hardworking part of your HVAC system, screening out unwanted debris and pollens from your system and increasing the system’s efficiency and output. By replacing the furnace filter often, your indoor air will be healthy and clean as the filter works to screen away allergens and bacteria that can make you sick or exacerbate symptoms in asthma. In addition, the replacement of your filter on a regular basement will keep your expensive HVAC system running like it should, prolonging its life, and reducing the cost of keeping your home comfortable in both the warm and cold months of the year.
It is important to inspect your furnace filter monthly, particularly during the seasons when you are operating your system more heavily than normally, such as during periods of intense heat or cold. An inspection can reveal if your furnace filter needs to be cleaned or replaced. If your furnace filter is not properly monitored for cleaning or replacement, your HVAC system will have to work harder than it needs to, which reduces its overall performance and increases your energy bills.
Furnace Filter Types
There are two types of furnace filters – disposable filters with cardboard frames or permanent filters with metal or fiberglass frames. The disposable filter is inexpensive but requires monthly replacement (or more often during periods of heavy HVAC system usage). Permanent filters lost for a long time and rarely require replacement. Permanent filters must be routinely cleaned, however. All furnace filters, including disposable and permanent types, are rated with a MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency report value. This rating is based on the filter’s ability to trap particulate matter and is a useful tool when evaluating filters based on performance. The higher the filter’s MERV rating, the more particulate matter, dust, debris, and allergens it will capture from the air – and the better the filter will work to keep these things out of your expensive HVAC system. Filters can be further broken down into various subtypes. Most filters are mechanical filters that work by trapping unwanted material in manmade or natural mesh netting. Most disposable filters are mechanical. The electrostatic filter is made from polyester strands that become charged electrically when air flows through them, and this static attracts pollen, dust, and other matter and traps it. Most permanent filters are electrostatic filters. There are also HEPA filters available in both disposable and permanent types. HEPA or high efficiency particle absorber does not have a MERV rating because it exceeds the ratings system’s specifications and provides the ultimate in indoor air quality for the home when utilized.
How to Clean or Replace a Furnace Filter
The first step to cleaning or replacing the furnace filter is to turn the system off and then locate your service panel. This is typically a panel that can be removed by hand, although some systems may require that you use a screwdriver to remove the panel. Locate the furnace filter inside the service panel. It will usually be near the intake/outtake fan or blower. Check the dust level of the filter. Can you see through the filter? If your furnace uses a reusable model, you can simply rinse the dust away in the sink or out in the driveway using a garden hose; allow it to dry and then reinstall it. If your furnace uses disposable furnace filters, make a note of the size that the unit requires and then throw the dirty filter away. Purchase and replace the filter and then turn the system back on.
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