Most homeowners know that changing your air filter regularly and selecting a high-quality air filter will improve the air quality in your home. This can significantly improve allergy symptoms and keep your HVAC unit free of dust.
However, the lesser-known reason why it's important to change your air filter and select one that is supported by your air conditioner is that a clogged air filter or one with too fine of a mesh will place strain on your air conditioner's blower motor. This can lead to your blower motor burning out and requiring replacement. Here's what you need to know about how often to change your air filter and why it's important to select the correct air filter for your air conditioner in order to maximize your air conditioner's longevity.
Change the Air Filter Based On Usage and Your Home's Air Quality
Instead of following a generalized recommendation such as changing your air filter every three months, it's better to change your air filter based on how much particulate you have circulating in the air in your home. If you own pets, for example, pet dander will clog an air filter much faster than in homes without pets.
How often you use your air conditioner also plays a part in how often you need to change the filter. During the summer months when the air conditioner is in constant use, the air filter will gather particulates from the air and become obstructed much faster than in temperate months when your HVAC system is not in use.
You should see a fine layer of dust and dander on your air filter whenever you change it. Increase the frequency of how often you change your air filter until the obstruction covers less than half of the air filter. It's better to change the air filter more often than to neglect to change the filter — filters that are majorly obstructed will reduce air pressure in your ducts and place added strain on your air conditioning unit.
Understand the MERV Rating System and Why Higher Ratings Can Harm Your Air Conditioner
Air filters carry a MERV rating on them which ranges from 1 to 20. This is a rough estimate of the size of particles the air filter is able to trap. The higher the number, the smaller size of particles will be caught in the filter.
If you have allergies and have poor air quality in your home, it can be tempting to always select an air filter with the highest MERV rating. These air filters cost more, as well, so consumers are led to believe that they are always the premium option. However, there are dangers in using a filter that is inappropriate for your air conditioner.
An air filter works by forcing air through a fine fiber mesh that entraps particulates in the air. For air filters of the same thickness, a higher MERV rating means the filter has a finer mesh. This is important to understand, because some air conditioning units are not designed for thin air filters with a high MERV rating. It makes it very difficult for your air conditioner to draw air through the filter. This leads to higher energy costs and additional strain on your air conditioner's blower motor. Selecting the wrong type of filter can cause your air conditioner to work so hard that the blower motor fails — leading to an expensive visit from the air conditioner repair professionals! Consult your owner's manual for which filter sizes and MERV ratings are acceptable for you to use in your unit.
By replacing your air filter regularly and selecting an air filter that is supported by your air conditioner, you're ensuring that your air conditioner works efficiently and isn't strained due to difficulty pulling air through the filter. If you don't know which filter to choose because you've lost your owners manual and want to know how high of a MERV rating you can purchase without harming your air conditioner, call an air conditioning repair expert for a consultation.
For more information, contact a company like Pell City Heating & Cooling Inc.