Our last post was about the most important service you can schedule for your Bensalem, PA air conditioning system: routine professional maintenance. Today, we’re going to talk about the part of maintenance that you’ll have to take care of for the rest of the season: changing the air filter on your HVAC system. Our technicians do this job as part of maintenance, but you will have to handle changing the filter afterwards on a regular basis of every one to three months.
The Job of the Air Filter
The air filter for your HVAC system is not, as many people assume, there to improve indoor air quality. It has a minor effect on air quality, but that’s not its primary job. The filter is designed to protect the air conditioning system components (as well as the heating system parts if they’re in the same HVAC cabinet) from dust and debris contamination.
As the HVAC system’s blower fan draws in air current through the return ducts from the house, it also pulls in dust and other particles; the filter stops these particles from getting into the cabinet. Without the filter, the HVAC system would start to malfunction early with troubles like burnt-out motors and dirty refrigerant coils and burners.
The Clogged Air Filter
The air filter doesn’t clean itself. It collects dust, lint, dander, and more until they completely congest the filter. It’s similar to the lint-catcher in a clothes dryer: after each load, you’ll find that it’s fully clogged up. This happens with the HVAC system’s air filter, although it takes longer.
When the filter becomes clogged, it can start a range of problems:
- A drop in energy efficiency for the HVAC system because of the extra strain placed on the blower fan as it tries to draw air through the congested filter.
- The AC can trip circuit breakers because of an overheated blower motor.
- Lack of airflow into the system causing a drop in comfort around the house.
- The evaporator coil may freeze because not enough warm air is passed over it.
- Dust and debris will start to get into the cabinet because the filter will stretch with the pressure put on it and create gaps along its edge.
- In extreme cases, the filter can collapse and fall into the blower.
Regular Filter Changes
This is all easy to avoid if you set yourself reminders to change the filter. Simple panel filters should be replaced every month, while stronger filters such as pleated and media filters will need to be replaced every two or three months. A good way to remember to either change or check on the filter is to do it each time you receive your utility bill—that will set a basic schedule.
Don’t know where the filter is located? Go to the HVAC cabinet and find where the return air duct connects to the cabinet’s side. This is usually at the bottom of the cabinet, where the blower assembly is located. The filter will be in a slot at this point. If you can’t find it there, look behind the vent cover of the return air vent in the house. If you have questions, please call us and we can help.
Call Dowd Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning for the AC service: “A Degree Above the Rest.”