Does a Dirty Furnace Filter Impact Equipment Performance?

Does a Dirty Furnace Filter Impact Equipment Performance?

By Donald Munn 

Unfortunately one of the most often neglected maintenance tasks for residential heating and air conditioning systems is changing the furnace filter. A furnace filter is an extremely important component of any air conditioner or furnace.

Many people use the cheap disposable fibreglass furnace filters thinking they are getting good value for their money. The reality is that these filters are next to useless because they don’t remove enough dust from the air to make much of a difference.

There is greater value in using one of the more efficient varieties of furnace filter available and there are many to choose from, beginning with the most commonly used pleated furnace filter to some of the lesser known specialty filters commonly used in many homes.

Why is the furnace filter so important?
There are several very important things that happen when people don’t change their furnace filter or air conditioner filter. You often hear that not changing your air conditioner filter or furnace filter will cause problems.

What really happens?

Air Conditioner Filter

  • Reduced refrigerant operating pressures within the air conditioner which can cause the evaporator coil to ice up.
  • Reduced cooling capacity which results in longer run times and higher energy costs.
  • Poor air circulation throughout your home resulting in some spaces not being cooled      properly.

Furnace Filter

  • Reduced air flow across the heat exchanger resulting in higher heat exchanger operating temperatures. This can result in cracked heat exchangers causing Co to leak into the space being heated.
  • Increased run times due to lower air flow. This results in higher fuel costs because it takes longer to heat the space. In electric forced air furnaces the result is the same except your power bill will be higher.

A common belief is that the blower fan also has to work harder when the furnace filter is dirty but this claim is only made by people who don’t really understand the operating characteristics of a centrifugal fan.

How often should you change your furnace filter?
To ensure that your furnace or air conditioner continues to operate at maximum efficiency it is very important to replace or clean your air filter at least every three months for one and two inch filters. Four inch filters can often be left in the system longer depending on the filter efficiency and several other factors.

Which replacement furnace filter is the best?
Selecting the best furnace filter is not an easy thing to do because there are so many variables to consider. There are filters to meet virtually every need. Allergy sufferers may require a very efficient filter, while a person who has no allergies only requires a moderately efficient filter. Maybe you don’t have allergies but you hate dusting and that is what guides you in making your decision.

To make things even more complicated, there are even duct mounted air purifiers that you can use in conjunction with a your furnace filter. These help to purify the air even further.

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