Time to talk about filters. No, not the kind you put on your email account to stop spam from flooding your inbox. (As a blogger dog who’s on the internet a lot, I know all about spam. Do you know how much spam I get from shady dog food companies promising me “a shinier coat in 10 days or your money back”?)
The filters I’m interested in are the ones on your HVAC system. These filters don’t do the job of cleaning the air so it’s healthier to breathe. (If you’re interested in air quality, we do offer options for that.) Their job is protecting the interior of the HVAC cabinet to stop dirt and other debris from interfering with the work of the furnace, AC, or heat pump.
The Most Important Thing to Know About Filters
If you take nothing else away from this blog, remember this: air filters need to be changed regularly. A filter won’t clean itself up! As lint, fabric strands, dust, dog hair (lots and lots of this), and other particles become trapped in the filter, it clogs up. Eventually, the airflow through the filter will slow down to almost nothing … and that’s bad news! It means:
- Poorer comfort in the house because less air goes to the rooms.
- Higher bills from putting extra strain on the blower fan.
- The furnace overheating and shutting off.
- Debris sneaking around the edges of the filter as it bends from pressure.
Changing the filter on a routine basis is an easy way to protect your HVAC system and avoid a rise in costs to keep your house comfortable.
Here’s a helpful tip: connect changing the air filter to a regular chore, like paying a utility bill. This way you’ll always be reminded of when you need to swap out the filter.
How Often to Change the Filter
I did some consulting with our staff about when to put in new filters. The answer was: “Depends on the filter type.” My buddies broke down the filter types like this:
- “Rock catchers”: That’s the name we have for simple panel filters, which are inexpensive to buy, but aren’t that effective at catching much more than rocks. If you do use this type of filter (we don’t recommend it), change it monthly.
- Pleated filters: I mean those filters with all the hills and valleys. These filters are made from a tighter weave with more surface area, and have a backscreen to stop the filter from collapsing. (This is another problem with rock catchers, by the way.) You may hear these called “90-day filters,” but my pals say to make a monthly check anyway to see if the filter’s clogged up.
- Aprilaire Whole-Home Media: Our techs really love this one! Thicker material, has that screen, much deeper—and it only needs to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. Don’t worry about the higher cost, because you only need two a year, if that, and there’s less risk of the HVAC system running up higher bills.
You can find these filters at hardware stores, or we can order them for you. Our team always changes the filter during regular maintenance visits, and if you want to know more about the frequency of changing the filter or where the filter is located, just ask! We’re always happy to help with your heating in Knoxville, TN or wherever you live in our service area.