As the scorching heat of the summer months starts to weigh down, we all find ourselves turning on our air-conditioners to keep us cool. We have it on wherever we go – at home, in the car, and at work. After all, when temperatures rise above 40 degrees, the AC becomes a necessity and many of us fail to function without it.
As much as it is a blessing when temperatures rise, an HVAC system needs regular maintenance in order to perform at full efficiency. A poorly maintained AC system, whether it is installed in your car, home or office, will not only drive up your electricity bill but can also turn out to be harmful to your health.
The processes performed by an AC to cool down warm air produce large amounts of moisture, which needs to be channeled away in order to ensure a healthy environment. A properly maintained, well-functioning unit is able to do this effectively. However, in a poorly maintained unit, some moisture gets left in the interior, making it an ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. This way, the HVAC system disperses germs into space where it is installed, causing health problems such as allergies, asthma, irritated eyes, nausea, and headaches.
Not only that, poor maintenance shortens the life of your unit while regular maintenance improves its efficiency, allowing it to perform its functions while using less energy. According to research, a clean filter can reduce the AC’s energy consumption by 5-15%.
So, if you are worried about your electricity bills shooting through the roof this summer or tired of getting allergies whenever you spend time under the AC, it is time to recall when you last got some maintenance done. But hold up! Before you get started, it is important to get to know your HVAC air filter as this is one of the main components requiring maintenance.
For best results, make sure to avoid these seven things when changing your air filter:
1- Waiting too long to change the filter
According to experts, the air filter of your HVAC system should ideally be changed at least once every three months if you have a central unit. For those who have their AC running 24/7, it should be changed every month.
Failure to do so affects the AC’s airflow and damages the evaporator coil, shortening the life of your system. You don’t have to worry about the cost because replacement filters are available at reasonable prices. Additionally, some AC units such as splits, have filters that can be easily cleaned and consequently, do not require replacement so often.
2- Not considering your environment when purchasing a filter
Environmental factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding what kind of filter you need and how frequently it needs to be changed. For example, if you reside in an area with a lot of air pollution and smoke, you will need an advanced filter as these substances are very hard to remove.
The season also makes a difference. For example, both spring and fall are known as the seasons of allergies, so it is vital to change your filter on time during this period.
3- Not checking the filter’s MERV Rating
MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a rating system that ranks a filter’s ability to clean out junk particles from the air. The rating can go from 1 to 16 and is a great way to determine the efficiency of any air filter. The greater the MERV, the more effective the filter is in clearing your air of dust, bacteria and other harmful substances.
Since MERV is a standardized system, it is always a good idea to check the MERV rating when purchasing any air filters.
4- Failing to consider the requirements of your home when changing the filter
Not every filter works the same way and it is vital to consider what kind of filter will work best in your home when you go out to purchase one. Some people have respiratory issues such as asthma while others are prone to allergies. They tend to immediately start having breathing problems or may get irritated eyes and a runny nose if the AC filter is not fully clean. Small children and the elderly, in particular, are more sensitive to any germs in the environment.
For such homes, filters with a MERV rating of at least 10 are recommended as they provide advanced protection against pollen, dust, bacteria, mold, and smoke, keeping your family healthy and happy throughout the summer.
5- Choosing the wrong filter size
Many people make the mistake of not paying enough attention to filter size but choosing the right size is actually what makes or breaks the filter’s performance. If the filter is smaller than required, air can escape around the edges and the purpose of the filter is lost. Too small a size could also result in the filter getting stuck in the duct, resulting in significant damage to the HVAC system.
6- Not keeping the filter clean
When your filter is not scheduled for a change, you still need to clean it from time to time. Most HVAC filters are washable, and you can gently wash off any dirt and grime in your bathroom sink. If some tough debris still remains, you can use a small amount of dishwashing liquid and a rag to wipe it off. Make sure to only place the filter back in once it is completely dry as wet filters will only become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.
7- Not consulting a professional
You may be doing everything you can to take care of your HVAC system but it is still important to consult a professional from time to time. For example, they can recommend the best filters according to your environment and home. It is also vital to get your system checked and serviced by a professional at least once a year to ensure it operates at full efficiency and no problems go unidentified.
Avoiding these seven mistakes will ensure your air filter stays in optimum condition and performs at its best. By doing so, you will be able to beat the heat, keep your bills down and stay free from allergies and nasal problems all summer long.