HVAC technicians play an important role in regulating indoor air quality by changing air filters. These filters are designed to trap microbial contaminants such as mold, bacteria, and viruses along with allergens that can induce mild to serious health effects. Even before COVID-19 became an issue, it was prudent to assume dirty air filters contain living pathogens, since the highest-efficiency rated types do not kill organisms.
It is for these health-related reasons that it is important to instruct your customers on how frequently they should change their air filters, as well as which air filter they should choose if they’re looking to improve their indoor air quality. Also, it is up to the contractor to take the necessary precautions and ensure adequate and safe replacement of an HVAC air filter.
How often should you change an HVAC filter?
To maintain healthy breathable indoor air, standard HVAC air filters should be changed at least every three months, or at the minimum recommendation of the air handler manufacturer. Changing an air filter on a regular maintenance schedule also keeps HVAC equipment in top working condition, prevents breakdowns, reduces energy consumption, and limits expensive repairs.
What is the best HVAC filter that provides clean air?
There are HVAC air filters that are specifically made to capture smaller particles like viruses. High-efficiency filters can affect the performance of an HVAC system so it’s best to check with a professional contractor or the system manufacturer when upgrading a filter.
Which safety precautions should you take when changing an HVAC filter?
The pandemic has raised awareness around best practices to follow regarding air filter replacement. There are a number of recommendations to follow to help keep technicians safe, while also preventing the spread of dangerous airborne pathogens into a home or area. Here are some recommended steps to replace an air filter:
Turn off the power: Also, turn off any fans in the area at least 20 minutes prior to servicing a filter.
Wear personal protective equipment (PPE): This includes a face mask, nitrile gloves, and shoe covers.
Remove the old filter: Simply slide it out of the slot that holds it in place.
Check the condition of the filter: Does it look clogged with dirt and dust? Many factors can impact how fast a filter will become clogged, shortening the life of the filter.
Place the old filter in a plastic bag: Be careful not to shake or drop it, as particles can be released into the air by any sudden movements. Tie the bag shut, taping it for good measure.
Dispose of the filter in a garbage can. If the filter has a permanent frame, the media should be removed outside. Be sure to dispose of the old filter in an outdoor trash can.
Insert the new filter: Look for an arrow on the filter’s frame to show the direction that air should flow through the filter, which is always away from the return air duct and toward the air handler mechanism.
When inserting the filter back in the housing, make sure the arrow points away from the return and toward the air handler. Write down the date you replaced the filter, for reference.
What problems can occur if my customers don’t replace their filters on time?
Your customers need to be aware of the detrimental effects not changing their HVAC filter on a regular basis can cause to their heating and air conditioning system. Here are the 5 most common problems that arise if the filters remain dirty.
It’s normal for an HVAC system to cycle off and on throughout the day. However, if the air filter is overly dirty it can cause the cycles to become shorter and shorter, making the system work harder to maintain the desired temperature, which leads to more energy consumption and uncomfortable changes in temperature.
A clean filter allows the air to flow freely through it. A dirty air filter restricts adequate flow of cold air in the summer months, which causes cool air to keep building up on the inside of the system. Over time, this will lead to ice forming on evaporator coils, causing damage and expensive repairs.
Uneven heating and cooling
Another drawback of restricted air flow due to a dirty air filter is that the heating and the cooling will not be even and the system will be unable to maintain the desired level of comfort in the area.
Buildup of allergens
If any person within your customer’s household has problems with respiratory allergies or asthma, it’s paramount to keep the filter clean at all times. Allergens build up on dirty filters, where they linger for months while they’re slowly being released into the air.
Some customers hold off with filter replacement because of the costs. However, they need to know that dirty air filters cause their entire HVAC system to become less efficient. This means that it will use more electricity trying to keep the temperature at a desired level ultimately costing your customers more money down the road.
What are the signs that the HVAC filter needs to be replaced?
However, simply being aware of the fact that they should contact professionals to replace their HVAC filter is not enough. Your customers also have to be familiar with the two most common telltale signs that their filter is on its last legs.
Increased electricity bill
The first and the most obvious sign that your customers should replace their HVAC filter is a sudden and constant increase in their energy bill. The dirtier the filter, the less efficient the entire system is. As your customers continue to postpone filter replacement, they will only continue to experience increases in their energy bills, which indicates it’s high time to buy a new one.
More dust near the vents and in the home
Another frequent sign of a long-overdue replacement of the air filter is noticing dust near the air vents. The easiest way to see if there is more dust near the air vents is to compare those surfaces with areas further away from the vents. If the surfaces closest to the vents are dirty while those away from them are not, it’s definitely time for a new filter.
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