Simple Reasons You Shouldn’t Underestimate Your Air Filter
The air filter is often overlooked when it comes to home comfort, but it does more for your health than you think. A dirty air filter can lead to many problems, including skyrocketing energy bills and poor indoor air quality. Keep reading to discover why Tom’s Heating Service recommends you place more emphasis on your air filter and how often you should replace it.
What Is an Air Filter and What Does It Actually Do?
An air filter is a device typically made of spun fiberglass material, or pleated paper or cloth. It typically attaches to your HVAC system’s blower compartment and cleans the air before it circulates through your home. Air filters also prevent dust and debris from getting into the HVAC equipment and ductwork, and trap:
- Mildew and mold spores
- Dust and dirt
- Fibers and lint
- Hair and animal dander
- Bacteria and microorganisms
Without a clean air filter, your system will get bogged down with the above contaminants and face frequent breakdowns or premature failure. You may also need duct cleanings more frequently.
The Side Effects of a Clogged Air Filter
Similarly, if an air filter clogs, it can cause serious system breakdowns because it:
- Blocks airflow, making your home feel less comfortable
- Makes your system work harder to keep up with your heating and cooling demands
- Increases the likelihood of breakdowns and causes energy bills to rise
- Causes poor indoor air quality, heightening your family’s risk of illness
Create a Reminder to Replace Your Air Filter Regularly
Standard one-inch air filters should be replaced roughly once every three months, or more often if someone in your home is elderly, has asthma or allergies, or has a respiratory illness. To see if it’s time for a replacement, simply check to see how dark the filter is. Gray to dark gray coloring means your filter is soiled and should be changed. If your system uses a media or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, it should be cleaned or replaced once every six to 12 months.
What Makes an Air Filter Dirty?
Common reasons why you may need to replace your air filter more frequently include:
- Burning candles—while they smell nice, burning candles emit soot, which will turn your filter black instead of the typical grayish color. Opt for higher quality candles, which burn cleaner and produce fewer contaminants.
- Owning pets—furry family members contribute more dust and contaminants than you might realize, whether it’s from being outside, using their litter box, breaking down carpet from walking, or shedding hair and dander.
- Aging carpet—this depends on the quality of your carpeting, but rapid deterioration can start in as little as one year. Fibers and adhesive particles break down and create excess dust throughout your home.
- Opening windows—yes, outdoor air is typically cleaner than indoor, but you do invite dust particles inside when you open up the windows. Especially if you live on a high-traffic road, or in a commercial or industrial area.
- Using aerosols and powders—pretty much any product emitted from a can or spray bottle (mostly cleaning or hygienic products) or powder products can contribute large quantities of pollutants to your home’s air. Opt for a liquid or solid version to reduce airborne particles.
- Running your dryer—using your dryer is a must when doing laundry. But it creates a lot of dust as it collects fuzz and lint from your clothing. Make sure you clean your lint trap regularly. You should also inspect it for leaks to make sure no lint is entering your home.
- Turning ventilation fans on—ventilating fans, such as bathroom fans or range hoods, are used to exhaust stale air. But anytime you run your fan, it creates negative pressure, which draws outside air in. If your HVAC system doesn’t have a “fresh air” or “make-up air” system, you risk drawing in polluted air through cracks or backward through other venting systems, such as water heaters. This unfiltered air can be harmful and will increase pollutant levels in your home.
For Air Filter Help and More, Trust the Tom’s Heating Pros
Whether you aren’t sure what air filter you need or how to replace it, our experts are here for you. We enjoy helping homeowners over the phone to save on trip charges whenever we can. Just give us a call at 262-548-1300. In the meantime, learn more about air quality in our FAQs and discover more about all the Carrier® air quality products we offer. Your health and home comfort are just as important to us as if it were our own.