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Taking Care of Business

One of the most important aspects of maintaining responsible home ownership includes regular home maintenance procedures. While some of these tasks may seem like trivial chores, the truth is that if they are deferred, it can lead to costly consequences. 

One task that is relatively easy to do is changing the air filter in the HVAC system of your home. While it is a simple and relatively inexpensive task, some people do not do it often enough. Experts recommend looking at this task monthly and changing it at least once every three months. If it is not taken care of, the entire unit and, as a result, home suffers.

Typically, most homes will be equipped with one of many different varieties of heat pumps or furnaces. Most of these homes, especially new ones, will be equipped with an HVAC system, which takes care of heating and ventilation, all in one carefully maintained unit. Each of these units will make use of some sort of air filter in order to ensure that airborne particles do not enter the system. Instead, they are kept out, but can collect on the air filter. A clogged air filter will damage the system itself and can end up clogging the sensitive machinery that powers the unit.

While there are different types of filters, most function in the same way. They are either located in filtered return grilles in the home or at the return side of the system itself. They are all made of disposable and biodegradable paper used to trap debris through specially designed cells and screens. Most of these filters can be purchased in a wide variety of different economic multi-packs, and replacement instructions are usually written on the packs themselves. 

What is the best type of filter to use? A pleated type air filter or media cabinet filter works best because of its ability to capture the smaller dust particles that might bypass the old-style standard filter. By using a pleated filter or a media type filter, particles cannot easily accumulate on a system’s blower wheel and even its indoor coil restricting air flow. When an A/C system has restricted air flow it will work harder to achieve the same results, causing it to burn out faster which leads to costly repairs.

Filters all come with a MERV Rating. This is not how much Merv Griffin liked the filter; however, it rates its ability to capture particulates in the .3-to-10-micron range. Just because a filter has a high MERV rating doesn’t mean that is the best filter for your system. Because a filter with a high MERV rating (13 and above) can add strain to your system, it’s a good idea to consult with your comfort provider for some advice. A MERV 6 filter removes about 50 percent of airborne particulates (lint/pollen) whereas a MERV 8 filter can remove as much as 90 percent of particulates (dust mites/mold spores). When we get up into the higher household MERVs like MERV 11, 95 percent of particulates can be removed (pet dander/smoke) and a MERV 13 can remove as much as 98 percent of particulates catching bacteria and virus carriers. Please note that the higher the MERV, the more often the filter requires replacement.

While you should check your air filter’s condition every month during the AC or heating season, change as needed or at least every three months. It is a good idea to consult with a licensed HVAC professional to inspect your HVAC system in order to make sure that it is working as it should be. And you might suggest bringing extra filters on that call! 

About John Kennedy 14 Articles
John Kennedy is general manager of Art Newsome, Inc. and can be reached at 873-0345 or by email at

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