The number one thing that you can do for your heating and cooling system to avoid costly breakdowns, save money on operating costs, and extend the life of your unit is to keep your air filter clean. It’s easy to get busy with life and forget this one little chore. However, taking a minute or two to do it can sure save some grief. On occasion, we have responded to a call of “no heat” or “no cool” and have found a clogged air filter that had been overlooked. When an air filter is clogged, it slows down the air flow and can cause the furnace to overheat and trip a limit sensor. Or in the cooling mode, it can cause the coils to ice up preventing air flow altogether.
How frequently to replace your air filter is based on two things: running time and cleanliness of the environment. Filter grills that are closer to the floor tend to pick up dust faster than those in the ceiling. In our area, we recommend replacing or cleaning your air filter at least every three months. If you are finding that the filter is quite dirty after three months, then do it every two months. The whole point is filtering the air without too much restriction to the air flow. If you can see dust on the filter, it is time to replace or clean it. Filtering the air is kind of a tradeoff between cleanliness and efficiency. You want a filter that does a good job filtering the air and that won’t restrict the air flow too much.
For general dust and pollen removal we recommend a middle-of-the-road pleated air filter. The pleats on the pleated air filter increase the surface area of the filter, thereby reducing restriction to air flow. You can expect to pay $7-$12 for this type of air filter. For those with severe allergies or breathing difficulties then an electronic air cleaner is the way to go. They are normally installed at the furnace location and do a great job of removing allergens, molds, etc. from the air without restricting the air flow.
On the air filter will be an arrow that indicates the direction of air flow. Make sure that when you install the air filter that the arrow points into the duct and away from the grill face; that is the direction of air flow. Also, make sure that the air filter fits snugly so that air won’t bypass the filter mixing in unfiltered air. So in short, just keep your air filter clean and your heating and cooling system will thank you. Guess I better go check my filter…