Heating maintenance is something that we bring up quite frequently on this blog. If you ask us, that’s justified. Why? Because, just to reiterate, there is no better way in which to keep your heater functioning properly and efficiently! When you schedule your heating maintenance with our team on an annual basis, you really can count on getting the most reliable and effective performance that your heater can muster. There is a catch, though. There is one heating maintenance task that you should be handling on your own.
This is changing the air filter in your forced air heater (such as a furnace or a heat pump). While our technicians will check on your air filter and replace it if necessary during annual maintenance, it really needs to be changed out much more frequently than just once a year. There is no rule written in stone, so checking in on the filter from time to time is advisable. However, most systems benefit from a fresh air filter every 1-3 months.
Is It Really That Big of an Issue?
Yes, it really is. Will a dirty air filter in your heater cause it to break down out of the blue. No, probably not. It will, however, cause a number of different problems, all of which can negatively affect your comfort, the condition of your heater, and your budget. Changing the air filter is a very simple way in which you can avoid potentially costly problems down the road.
When your air filter is too dirty, it is going to create a lot of airflow resistance. When that happens, it is going to make it harder for your heater to force air throughout the system. Think of a straw with a kink in it. Harder to blow through than an unobstructed straw, right? The harder that your system has to work, the more energy it is going to need in order to do its job—and you’ll see that reflected in your energy bills.
If your filter is dirty enough that it is really creating airflow resistance issues, then your heater may even start to short cycle. This is a condition in which the system starts up, but then shuts back down before completing a full heating cycle. It then starts up again, but soon overheats and shuts back down. This wastes a lot of energy, driving up operating costs even further, and also puts a tremendous amount of unnecessary strain on the system. That could lead to costly heating repairs.
There is also your indoor air quality to consider. Now, many people don’t realize that the function of this relatively inefficient air filter is not really to keep the air throughout your home clean. It is there to protect the system itself from the introduction of pollutants into it. If your air filter is dirty enough, though, air may actually be forced around it, allowing those pollutants in before they are spread throughout your house via your ductwork.