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Cleveland HVAC Blog

Air Filters: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Posted by Paul Wadsworth on Mon, May 12, 2014 @ 08:30 AM

clean versus dirty air filterThe heating and cooling seasons in Cleveland are long and often extreme, and your furnace and air conditioner work hard to keep you comfortable year-round. Maintaining an efficient heating or cooling system is a matter of two major tasks:

  • Scheduling your annual system tune-up every year.
  • Replacing your air filter when the old one is dirty.

HVAC air filters serve two important purposes:

  • Air filters prevent dust from building up inside your system, coating essential components and leading to their premature failure, or overall system failure.
  • Filters also remove contaminants like mold spores, bacteria and pollen from your home to improve your indoor air quality.

A dirty air filter restricts the airflow and makes it work extra hard to compensate, which means more wear and tear, higher utility bills and a shorter system operating life.

If you have a standard air filter check it every month and replace it when you can no longer see any filter material behind the dust. Depending on where you live, the size of your household and whether you have pets, you may need to change your filter every month or every two or three months.

Good quality air filters are essential for the cleanest air and for protecting your HVAC system against dust. Air filters are given a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which is designed to indicate a filter's ability to trap particles in your home's air. Higher MERV ratings indicate an air filter that traps more particles.

The MERV scale runs from one to 20, and it would seem that you would want a higher rating to do a better job of cleaning the air.  The problem is that as you install better performing filters, they create more resistance to air flow and you system needs air flow just like the body needs blood pumping through your veins.

The answer is to make sure that someone has checked your system's ability to move the needed amount of air and if needed, upgraded its ability to overcome the added resistance of the better air filter. Here again is the key fact—replacing or modifying your HVAC system is an engineering event that needs the attention of a trained professional.

Always remember, air filters are directional in nature. To change your air filter, remove the old one from the blower compartment between your cold air return and the furnace itself. Slide in the new filter with the arrows printed on the frame pointing toward the main body of the system, in the direction of the airflow.

For more expert advice about choosing and changing air filters, please contact us at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling, proudly serving the Cleveland area.

Air Filter Reminders

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Paul WadsworthPaul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for over 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. Paul is the Chairman of COSE's Energy Advisory Council. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.

The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.

Topics: hvac maintenance, air filters, furnace, air conditioners

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