Your home air conditioning or HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system requires regular maintenance. This is especially the case if you live in a region that experiences extremes in temperature, like sweltering summers and frigid winters. During such days, your air conditioner will most probably be working continuously for weeks or even months. An air conditioner that is maintained properly will be able to function efficiently under this heavy workload.
The core mechanical and electrical parts of the system will need to be inspected and tuned up by qualified technicians. This could take up a fair amount of time. But possibly the simplest part of HVAC maintenance is the replacement of its air filter in a timely manner. It is straightforward and quick as it does not entail any dismantling of the system, as mentioned in the Houston air conditioning website.
What Does An Air Conditioning Filter Do?
An air conditioning system consists of a furnace, heating and cooling coils, tubing filled with refrigerants, and a few other components. Air supply ducts pump air from the unit into your living space and return air ducts transfer air from your space back to the unit for cooling or heating. When an air filter is placed at the return air duct or the outlet of the supply duct, a cleaning component is also included in the system.
The return air from your living space will typically contain a variety of particulate matter like dust, pollen, pet fur, hair, fibers, grime, and other pollutants. It might also contain chemicals, smoke, grease, and a variety of allergens. The air filter traps these contaminants, and clean air is passed into the cooling or heating system to be recirculated into your living space.
Why Do You Need To Replace Your Air Filter?
-If your air filter is clogged with impurities, the airflow through it gets constricted. So the unit has to stay on longer to cool or heat the space. If the unit has to work harder than required, it leads to more wear and shortens your unit’s lifespan.
-If the system has to work for longer, the energy consumption is higher. This leads to more expensive utility bills. According to the Department of Energy, maintaining a clean air filter will lower your energy usage by five to fifteen percent, making your climate control system more energy efficient.
– The most apparent reason for ensuring that your air filter is replaced regularly is that the air in your space will be clean. When the cooled or heated air is pumped back into your living area, it will be free of all the contaminants that the filter traps at the return air duct. The quality of air in your home can be maintained at safe and comfortable levels.
– Since the filter stops all the particulate pollutants that enter the system through the return air duct, they can settle on the system’s parts around the filter. This includes the evaporation coil, which can get dusty or even greasy. Such a buildup can cause the system to fail and lead to expensive repairs and downtime, which is exceptionally inconvenient when your area is experiencing extreme temperatures.
– Pollutants that are stopped by the filter can also build up in your ducts. While your ducts need to be cleaned regularly, such extra buildup might require more frequent cleaning, driving up your maintenance costs. This can be avoided by the simple and inexpensive act of regularly replacing your air filter.
When Should You Replace Your Air Filter?
Most homeowners tend to replace their air filters at the time of duct cleaning or maintenance. But air filters should be cleaned or replaced more frequently. The standard practice is to replace the filter seasonally, which is twice a year. But they should be replaced at least every three months. In areas where dust accumulates more, or there are furry pets at home, or contaminants generally build up faster indoors, they should be replaced more often than that.
In case you forget to replace your filter, several telltale signs can alert you to the fact that the filter is damaged or clogged.
– The filter is usually easily accessible, probably just a short distance inside a vent. You could inspect the filter yourself, and if it looks especially dirty, it is clogged, and it is time to replace it.
– If the filter shows signs of damage like holes or tears, it is ineffective and needs to be replaced.
– If the air conditioning unit is heating up, it means that there is an interruption in the airflow, putting a strain on the system. This could be due to a clogged filter.
– If the air emitted by the system is not cold enough, it could be due to a malfunction in the unit because of a damaged filter.
– If your utility bills have risen unexpectedly, it could be because your unit is working harder than usual. An ineffective filter can cause this.
– If any allergy attacks have worsened, that could be because of a damaged filter that cannot keep pollen, pet dander, and other allergens out of your living space.
– If the air vents appear unusually dusty, it is most likely because of a damaged filter.
– A white sheet test can help you decide if it is time to replace your filter. Hang a white sheet a few inches from the air vent for an hour. If it turns gray from dust, the filter needs to be replaced.
What Are The Types Of Air Filters?
– Pleated filters are very effective in keeping out most types of pollutants in the spectrum. They can keep out. They are made of fabric that breathes so air can flow through, and contaminants are kept out. They are disposable and are not reusable, but they are inexpensive. They only need to be replaced every three months or so and are recyclable in most cases.
– Washable filters can be removed, cleaned, and reused. They cost more than the disposable types of filters but are cost-effective in the long run. Care should be taken to not re-install them while they are still damp.
– Fiberglass filters are the most inexpensive type. They are useful in filtering out larger debris but not fine dust, smoke, or allergens. They need to be replaced every month and are also not very durable. They are not recyclable or reusable, and so they are not the most environment-friendly option.
– Electrostatic filters attract and trap dust and debris with an electrostatic charge. Some of them are reusable, while some are not.
– HEPA filters are more expensive than other types of filters but are extremely useful in combating allergens and 99.9 percent of contaminants.
In conclusion, it is prudent to be proactive about air filter replacement and, for that matter, tune-ups and the overall maintenance of your HVAC system. It will keep your system functioning at optimum levels, improve its reliability, make it more environment-friendly, and save you money in the long run.