The Costs of a Dirty Air Filter

One of the most important monthly tasks you can perform in your Macon area home is to inspect your HVAC air filter and swap it out for a clean filter when it’s dirty. The adverse effects of a dirty air filter include reducing your comfort, compromising your health, and increasing your bottom line.

A Dirty Filter Will Cost You

A clogged air filter will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. In fact, a dirty filter is one of the most common and preventable causes of HVAC system failure.

A dirty air filter reduces the airflow to your system and can cause the motor to overheat. Additionally, air that bypasses a dirty filter carries dust inside the system, which coats essential components such as the fan, motor and evaporator coil or heat exchanger. This can cause premature failure of these components, resulting in astronomical repair or replacement bills.

Aside from the damage caused by a dirty filter, neglecting your filter can reduce your system’s energy efficiency by up to 15 percent, meaning you pay considerably more to heat and cool your home. Because of the restricted airflow, your comfort level will decrease as well, and you’ll end up paying more money for less comfort.

The Air Quality Factor

The HVAC air filter is your first defense against poor indoor air quality. The filter traps particles such as mold spores, bacteria and viruses, dust mites and pollen to improve the breathability of the air in your home and help prevent allergy and asthma symptoms. The effects of a dirty air filter on your health can lower your quality of life, possibly leading to respiratory problems later on.

Choosing an Air Filter

If you’ve ever shopped for an air filter, you know that there are as many different types of air filters on the market as there are breakfast cereal brands at the grocery store. It can be a little confusing to decide which filter is best for your system.

The first factor to look at is size. You can figure out what size you need by looking at your existing filter or reading the specifications of your system.

The second factor is quality. Air filters range widely in quality, from the very cheap and ineffective to the more expensive, high-quality units. While you should avoid the cheapest, flat filters, it may not be necessary to go all out and get the most expensive filter, either.

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, scale, can help you choose the right filter for your system and help you prevent the negative effects of a dirty air filter. MERV ratings for residential air filters generally range from 1 to 12, though some home systems can be modified to accommodate filters ranging from MERV 13-20. The higher the MERV value, the better quality the filter.

Decoding MERV

MERV 1 to 4 filters offer very little in the way of improving your indoor air quality. They trap only particles that are larger than 10 microns, such as pollen and dust mites. They provide only minimal protection for your system. Since these filters are flat, there’s less surface area, meaning you need to replace them more often.

MERV 5 to 8 ratings denote a good-quality, pleated filter that is sufficient for most residential HVAC and air cleaning needs. These filters trap particles that are as small as 3 microns, which include mold spores, dust-mite debris and pet dander.

MERV 9 to 12 filters are the highest-quality filters available for use in residential systems. They trap particles as small as one micron, such as some bacteria and humidifier and lead dust. If anyone in your household suffers from allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory ailments, the higher-rated filter will help alleviate symptoms and prevent attacks.

Balance is Key

Always check the specifications of your system before upgrading your air filter. Higher-rated filters can prevent optimum airflow, which will cause the same problems as a dirty filter. Balancing airflow and air cleaning qualities is essential when choosing a filter.

Replacing the Filter

The air filter is located in your system’s blower compartment between the air return duct and the main body. Remove the old filter and slide in the new one with the arrows on the frame pointing in the direction of the airflow.

For more expert advice about the effects of a dirty air filter and how you can improve your system’s performance and your home’s indoor air quality, please contact us in the Macon area at Wilson Bryant Air Conditioning.