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Why Does My HVAC Filter Get Dirty So Frequently?

The average homeowner knows the importance of replacing an HVAC system filter regularly. Sometimes, replacing them on a schedule just isn’t enough. Checking your filter at the scheduled replacement time and discovering it’s completely covered in hair, dust or other particles makes you wonder why it’s getting so clogged prematurely.

We’ve discovered some common causes to early filter clogging, and the solutions.

Clogged Way Too Early

Following are some of the typical causes of an HVAC filter getting clogged faster then normal.

  • Pets If you have shedding pets in your home, you can expect elevated levels of pet hair and dander in your system’s filter. Frequent vacuuming and pet grooming can help keep this under control. Keep in mind some breeds tend to be worse than others. Also, thankfully, some breeds tend to shed heavily only a couple of times a year.
  • Thermostat Fan is “ON” Your typical thermostat has two fan settings: “on” and “auto.” The fan only blows when your system is actively heating or cooling your home when it’s set to “auto.” When it’s set to “on” the fan runs continuously, passing air through the filter constantly. Switching back to the “auto” will extend the life of your filters and your blower motor.
  • Temperature Extremes Extreme cold or hot weather will cause your home’s heating or cooling to run continuously regardless of the fan setting. During these extreme times (the coldest days in winter and hottest days in summer) you may need to inspect and replace the filter more frequently.
  • High MERV rating MERV means Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers. MERV values vary from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV value, the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles. A higher MERV filter will ultimate make your home’s air cleaner and fresher, but it will also cause the system to work harder to move the air (accelerating wear and tear on the system). Consult one of our professional HVAC techs for advice on the optimal filter for your home and environment.
  • Dust Home construction, or new construction in your neighborhood, can generate a great deal of dust. A little-used room in your home can also allow dust to settle. Dust can accumulate in your attic, basement or crawlspace as well. If you leave this dust undisturbed it has a good chance of clogging your system’s filter.

Suck It Up

One step you can take if your filter seems to clog often: vacuum the surface of the filter. While this doesn’t make the filter clean, it will remove a significant amount of hair and larger dust particles from the filter. It’s fairly easy to accomplish and will likely give you additional life in your filter.

Supplementing your HVAC system with an air purification system is a much more effective solution. Such a move will remove many particles long before they reach your HVAC system’s filter. Air purification should be a consideration if you have a household member that suffers from allergies or asthma, especially if you have shedding pets in the home.

Another step is to switch to a reusable filter that allows you to clean it regularly with a vacuum or garden hose.

To learn more about the most effective filtration systems and how to keep your system’s filters clean and make your home’s air fresher and cleaner, contact Pickerington Heating & Cooling to schedule a visit from one of our professional HVAC system techs. Call us at 614-837-4026 or visit our convenient contact page.