Changing your air conditioner air filter on a regular basis is the single most important thing a homeowner can do to maintain the efficiency of his or her heating and cooling systems. That brings up a few questions such as should you clean your filter instead of replacing it to save a few bucks? What’s the difference between a MERV 5 and MERV 13 filter? Dose size matter? And, are HEPA filters something you should be looking into?
First, unless you have a filter that is specifically designed to be washed, it isn’t a good idea to try to clean it off to reuse it. Compressed air will simply blow off the particles that have been stopped by the clogged filter while the filter remains dirty. Trying to wash it likely will lead in the filter fabric disintegrating.
Replacing your filter is the best option. Each filter will have a MERV rating, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. The higher this rating is, the more effective the filter is at removing airborne particles on the first pass through the filter. Ratings for residential filters run from MERV 1 to 16. The higher the MERV number the more (and smaller) particles it will capture. Unless a home has special air quality requirements, the federal EPA suggests that homeowners use a air filter with a MERV rating between 7 and 13. This will provide a good balance between cleaning the air and maintaining system airflow.
The size of your HVAC filter is extremely important. If your filter doesn’t fully cover the air inlet chamber, dust and debris will travel around it into the air duct system. If the size isn’t plainly printed on the side of the old filter, the correct size filter for your system can be found in the user manual, printed on the service instructions on the inside of the blower motor chamber, or by asking a professional HVAC contractor.
There has been a lot of talk about HEPA filtration. While the “high efficiency particulate air” filter can’t be beat for cleaning our indoor air, it’s usually not compatible with home forced-air systems without significant alterations. For example, most home systems don’t have strong enough blower motors to push air through the thick HEPA filter. This can lead to poor airflow and eventual system breakdown.
For more information on replacing your air filter, please contact us at Cool Power, LLC. We provide quality HVAC services to Long Island homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hauppauge, New York and the Long Island area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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