Homeowner Preventative Maintenance: Changing the HVAC Filter

Homeowner Preventative Maintenance: Changing the HVAC Filter

Owning a home comes with the responsibility of regular home maintenance.  One task that is often overlooked is changing the air filter for the HVAC system.  HVAC systems should be serviced once a year by an HVAC contractor but changing the air filter is a task that the home owner can do themselves.  I inspected a home recently and found this filter  (pictured below). As you can see, this filter was in need of immediate replacement. However, when I brought it to the attention of the homeowner they were unaware that they had a filter that needed changing.  

This filter was so dirty that very little air was passing through it. This can result in little to no air returning to the unit. This situation can cause the mechanical components of the unit to not work efficiently, put excessive stress on the whole system, or lead to premature failure of parts such as the blower motor. Also, a dirty air filter that picks up condensation can become damp and lead to mold growth which in turn can spread throughout the home. 

Filters should be checked once per month and changed a minimum of once every three months. If you have pets that produce dander, have a large family, live or work in dusty conditions such as a dirt road, or someone in the home suffers from allergies you may want to change the filter(s) monthly. 

It is very important to install/replace the filter with the correct size for the opening. (The size of the filter in the picture is 10X20X1).  You can find the size of the filter printed on the outer edge or you can measure the opening to ensure that you have the correct size. Filters can be purchased in multi packs which is a great idea in order for you to have replacements on hand.  When replacing the filter, make sure the unit is turned off. Filters have flow arrows on the outer edge to show you which way to install them. Before installing the new filter, make sure that you dust off or vacuum the return grill that protects the filter. 

Homeowners who perform the easy task of changing HVAC filters can increase the longevity of their units and avoid system downtime. Also, it will increase the efficiency of the unit and keep their families breathing and living comfortably.