If you use a furnace in your home, then you know the satisfaction of turning it on for the first time in fall or winter and getting that rush of warm air. Naturally, if you turn it on and something goes awry, you’re going to panic. However, you should know that there are actually steps you can take to avoid this.
No, we don’t expect you to service your furnace, but we can make you aware of what can be done to help you avoid sudden, surprise, and expensive malfunctions. For example, have you scheduled heating maintenance yet this year?
During professional maintenance, our technicians thoroughly inspect, clean, and adjust the components that need it, which ensures that your heater works as efficiently and effectively as possible for as long as possible. In addition to professional services, there is one more small maintenance task that you can and should do on your own every 1–3 months—change the air filter! Read on to learn why this is necessary.
The Purpose of Your Furnace Air Filter
Although you don’t necessarily see this on a daily basis, there’s a lot of debris that floats through your home. Dust and dirt from the outside, household cleaning fumes, smoke if you have a chimney or smokers in the home, and even pet dander if you have a pet. This debris could potentially end up inside your furnace and harm its sensitive components—that is, without an air filter in place.
Homeowners often think that the purpose of the HVAC air filter is to protect their indoor air quality. While it does help with your indoor air quality, its actual purpose is to protect the furnace itself. And when the air filter gets too clogged up, airflow is restricted, which is bad news for your furnace when it comes to efficiency and wear and tear.
The Impact of a Clogged Air Filter
So, yes, your air filter needs to be changed. Depending on the type of filter you have and the level of contaminants in your home, this is a task you should do every 1–3 months, as we mentioned above. Otherwise, your home can suffer from:
Decreased System Efficiency
When the furnace air filter is clogged, it causes your heating system to struggle in circulating air through your home, since there’s a lot more airflow resistance than normal.
This means your furnace has to run longer to try to achieve the desired temperature setting on your thermostat. Another thing that can happen when airflow is disrupted like this is that your system can short-cycle, which means it turns on and off rapidly, never actually completing a full heating cycle.
Your HVAC systems drain the most power turning on, so as you can probably guess, this isn’t very efficient either!
Increased Repair Needs
Whether your furnace is short-cycling or running longer than normal, it’s going to increase wear and tear on the system. Professional maintenance allows us to catch repair needs each year, but those repair needs will be exacerbated if you aren’t regularly changing the air filter to ensure proper airflow and system functionality.
Decreased Indoor Air Quality
As we mentioned above, the air filter is not in place to protect your indoor air quality. However, when the air filter is too clogged up it can’t do anything to help it. So changing your air filter does help indoor air quality a bit!