Air filter replacements may seem inconvenient, but understanding air filters may help you to give more attention to their upkeep. Some homeowners ignore filters completely, experiencing system malfunctions because of dirty filter problems. Others assume that a filter is optional, removing the unit and continuing to operate the HVAC system. However, the filter plays a major role in the efficiency of your equipment.
The Role of an Air Filter
You may think that the filter is supposed to keep the air that you breath clean. While this is one benefit of having a filter in place, the more important function is to protect the interior of your air handler. When dirt and debris settle on the evaporator coils, air movement is restricted, resulting in your system having to work harder. Additionally, a layer of material in this area can prevent refrigerant from doing its job efficiently. Refrigerant is cold when it enters the area. As it absorbs heat from the air, the air cools to provide comfort throughout your structure. Dirt and grime can insulate the refrigerant, preventing an effective energy transfer.
Finding the Right Filter
If you don't currently have a filter in place, you can measure the space that it needs to fit. Measure for height, width and thickness, rounding any fractional measurements to the next highest whole number. If you have a filter, you can find these dimensions on the side of the unit.
Filters are rated on the MERV-scale. Measures from 5 to 12 are appropriate for residential HVAC needs, but higher ratings are ideal for better filtration. You don't want to exceed a MERV of 12 because the density of such filters can restrict airflow. You may find filters that use different rating scales because a manufacturer has chosen to create its own standards. However, the idea is still the same. Higher ratings provide better filtration results.
The Need for System Cleaning
If you have operated your cooling equipment without a filter or with a dirty filter, you may need to have your air handler cleaned to remove the excess dirt from the coils. This should be done annually even if you have been meticulous about air filter changes. We can connect you with a Comfort24-7 contractor to assist with servicing your system to optimize its performance.