Do Better Filters Make Your AC Work Harder?

Learn how better filters can make your AC work harder and why it's important to replace them regularly.

Do Better Filters Make Your AC Work Harder?

Your intuition that a filter can impede airflow in your ventilation system is correct. This can easily happen unless you have professionals in charge of installing the filters. A poor fit between the air filter and the boiler or heating system reduces performance and efficiency. Your system is designed to contain a filter that fits specific dimensions. Air filters with higher efficiency ratings are often thicker than styles designed with lower ratings.

Although both types of filters have the same shape, they fit differently. This reduces the efficiency of the filter, making it more difficult to capture dust, dirt, and other particles from the air circulating throughout the house. Your air conditioner is designed to absorb a certain amount of air each time a cycle occurs. When airflow is restricted, the components of your cooling system have to work harder to do their jobs. This means that, in general, the system will accumulate wear and tear much faster than it would have otherwise, shortening the life of the system, or at least leading to the need for costly repairs.

There is no mechanical connection between the fan motor and the air cleaner. The fan will do the same, regardless of the amount of airflow the filter allows. Unless you have what is known as an ECM motor, the fan will move at the same speed and consume the same amount of energy, regardless of the magnitude of the pressure drop. The engine doesn't know what the airflow levels are, nor does it have a way to adjust its workload for such a thing. So, it's not going to work any harder. A dirty air filter caused the entire unit to work harder than normal and use more energy to cool your home.

If you're delaying replacing your filter due to cost, it can only be more costly in the long run. In fact, according to the U. S., a clogged dirty air filter can cause a 15% increase in energy consumption. Assuming an eight-year lifespan for your HVAC system, with identical use and no external factors (that part is important), you would need to replace the fan motor in your HVAC system about 3 months earlier with a pleated filter than with a fiberglass filter. Compared to basic filters available, medium-efficiency MERV filters such as the Nordic Pure MERV 12 can greatly reduce airborne dust, mold spores, pollen and even smoke, and doing so can help alleviate respiratory ailments, says NIH review.

However, these filters have some drawbacks first, they usually cost significantly more than basic fiberglass filters. Don't let a dirty air conditioner filter stop you from feeling comfortable in your own home or lead to costly repairs. It doesn't take into account the risks to your system that result from the buildup of small particles in AC coils, which are taller with cheaper filters that capture less. All of them (and Owen) told us that MERV filters in this range restrict airflow more than low-MERV filters, as measured by the drop in air pressure that filters create when installed. If the air filter becomes clogged during the summer cooling season, cold air buildup can cause ice to form on the air conditioning coils or evaporator. We recommend at least checking your air filter once a month, but advanced filters can last a little longer. A dirty air conditioning filter can wreak havoc on your HVAC system and lead to costly repairs or a complete breakdown when you need your air conditioner most. This air filter is placed between the intake air and the HVAC system, so a clogged filter prevents air from circulating through the ventilation grilles.

In short, pleated filters have innovated the way fibers are woven, as well as what they are made of, to increase filtering capacity and decrease fabric density. In actual use, with the air in your home constantly recirculating through the ducts and passing through the filters each time, the cumulative effect of the filters increases. Some washable filters aren't much better, but high-end permanent filters can compete with very common disposable pleated filters which are available in a range even reaching MERV 12 or higher. Because Second Nature helps homeowners make sure they are changing their filters on time and the crazy man stuff around pleated air filters has proven to be largely absurd, customers see their HVAC issues diminish when they participate in service.

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