Checking your furnace filter monthly is at the top of the list of DIY maintenance on a modern heating system. In fact, beyond keeping the area around the furnace free of dust and combustibles, changing the filter regularly is about the only furnace upkeep the average homeowner should attempt. The high temperatures, open flame and potentially deadly carbon monoxide make comprehensive furnace maintenance a job for an HVAC professional.
In a shaft of sunlight, tiny airborne particulates are visible in household air. These relatively benign inorganic particles, however, make up only about 1 percent of the stuff circulating in your air. The invisible 99 percent consists of pollutants, allergens, spores and microorganisms. In an air-tight, energy efficient home, unless these contaminants are removed by mechanical filtration they accumulate and concentrate, tainting indoor air quality and triggering allergic response and illness in susceptible individuals. Additionally, a dirty filter restricts system airflow. A typical home heating and cooling system must circulate over a thousand cubic feet per minute of air through the ductwork to maintain manufacturer’s specs for energy efficiency and performance.
If you don’t know where your furnace filter is, your HVAC contractor will be happy to show you. Every month during the heating season, it’s a good idea to replace the filter. While vacuuming visible dust and dirt off the filter media instead of replacing it may provide some minimal extra mileage, the cost of filters purchased in multi-packs at any home center is low while the price of leaving a used, less-than-optimum filter installed can be considerable in higher operating costs as well as unhealthy indoor air quality.
Filter efficiency is rated by the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating, ranging from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter. However, airflow restriction also increases as filter efficiency rises. In a residential system, a furnace filter in the MERV range of 6 to 12 provides the best balance between adequate air flow and effective filtration.
For more information on selecting the right furnace filter and how to change it, contact Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Springdale, Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Pelfophoto/Shutterstock”