Not every model of heating system features an air filter, but if your equipment does, it is important that it is regularly changed. Most manufacturers recommend that air filters in gas or electric furnaces, or high velocity and geothermal heat pumps are changed every three months. So, why is it important that you or your HVAC technician performs this task?
Proper Air Flow:
The first and most important reason to ensure that your heating system is not operating with a clogged air filter is to provide proper air flow. Heating systems require specific amounts of air that can move through them during operation in order to work properly. A clogged air filter acts as a gag to the air flow, causing a serious restriction. This compromised airflow places your system under tremendous air pressure; reducing its heating capacity and increasing wear that could compromise the lifespan of your equipment.
Maintaining System Pressure:
There is a delicate balance of air pressure inside every heating system that is vital for proper operation. Not only is a balance of air needed where the heat is generated in the main part of your heating system, but correct pressure is also necessary for your ductwork. Although it may seem insignificant, a dirty or clogged air filter can have a massive effect on the air pressure in your system and cause it to become imbalanced. This can create a myriad of systemic problems including cold spots and poor heating performance.
Indoor Air Quality:
Although the primary purpose of an air filter is to prevent dirt, dust, and debris from entering the system, its secondary purpose is to trap these particles and prevent them from compromising your indoor air quality. When your air filter is clogged, it becomes ineffectual for preventing any debris from entering your heating system. These particles then have a direct path into the living spaces of your home. This is problematic for allergy sufferers, but it can also impact your sense of wellbeing. Research has linked poor indoor air quality to headaches, feelings of fatigue, sinus problems, and low mood.
Changing Your Filter:
The procedure for changing filters varies from model to model, but the full instructions should be listed in the owner’s manual supplied by the manufacturer for your equipment. Changing heater filters is usually fairly simple, and this task can usually be handled by any homeowner who has basic DIY skills. If you are unsure about changing the filter in your heater, your HVAC technician can handle this aspect of maintenance during a service.
Three Months as a Guide:
The recommendation for changing your filters every three months should be considered a guide. While this may be the appropriate interval in many homes, you may find that you need to change your filters more frequently. Pets, smokers, and home renovations can all generate dust and debris that will cause filters to become clogged more quickly. If you are unsure about whether your filter is in need of cleaning or replacement, it is best to err on the side of caution to ensure that system is not compromised.