Air Filter Efficiency: When Should You Clean Them?
You may already know how important the HVAC system is to maintaining a comfortable and livable environment in the home, but you may not know just how important the air filter is to the functioning of the HVAC system.
As the name suggests, the air filter traps certain kinds of particulate matter and prevents them from circulating throughout the home. That helps to keep the air clean and pure, which is good for everybody, but especially for those with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems.
However, while the air filter helps to take care of you, you need to take care of your air filter as well. That means it needs to be cleaned on a regular basis, at least if you have a washable air filter. If you have a disposable filter, then you just need to get rid of it and replace it with a new one. No matter what kind of filter you need, you can find the one you are looking for at both online retailers and physical stores. They each have a wide selection of home air filters for you to choose from.
Why You Need To Clean Your Air Filters
An air filter works by trapping pollutants and particulate matter like dust, smoke, dust mites, bacteria, and more. Eventually the filter will get dirty and clogged, which means that it cannot trap any more particles. When it reaches that point, it is no longer effective, meaning that those particles are now swirling around the air inside the home. The filter will then need to be either replaced or cleaned depending on the nature of the filter.
When You Need to Clean Your Air Filter
The frequency of when you need to clean your air filter depends on the MERV rating of the air filter that you have. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it indicates how effective the filter is at trapping particles. MERV ratings go from 1 to 16 and the higher the number, the more efficient the filter is.
The average home only needs an air filter in the 8 to 10 range, but people with serious allergies or respiratory problems may need an air filter in the 10 to 12 range. Air filters in the median range need to be cleaned about every six months, while the higher-rated filters need to be cleaned about every other month since they capture more particles.
How to Clean Your Air Filter
Naturally, cleaning an air filter is not as easy as simply disposing of it when it gets dirty, but that doesn’t mean that cleaning the air filter is particularly difficult either. Just follow the steps below and you will be fine:
- Locate the vent where the air filter is located. This vent will be on the ground floor in a large room or hallway and will be easily accessible.
- Turn off the HVAC system.
- Open the vent and remove the air filter.
- Use a hose to wash the air filter. Make sure that the water pressure is not too high or it could damage the filter. Also, you should spray the water through the filter in the same direction that the air travels through the filter. There should be an arrow on the filter that shows the direction of the air flow.
- Allow the filter to air dry completely. If the filter is damp when you put it back in the vent, then that could cause mold to form on it.
- Place the filter back in the vent, making sure that it is facing the right way.
- Turn on the HVAC system again.
Instead of using a hose you can soak the filter in a solution of water and a small amount of vinegar to clean it.
Keep Your Air Filter Clean
If you have the type of air filter that only needs to be cleaned every six months or so, then it might be easy to forget to do so. You may need to set a reminder or alert somewhere so that you don’t forget when the time comes to clean it. That is because keeping the filter clean is an important part of maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of the HVAC system. So take care of your air filter if you want your HVAC system to take care of you.