The air filter is one of the simplest devices in your HVAC system. Yet, it wields a double-edged sword in terms of HVAC performance and efficiency, affecting home furnace components, energy bills and even water leaks.
Filters and Airflow
A conventional central home furnace consists of either a combustion furnace (i.e. gas or oil) and an A/C evaporator coil, or a heat pump system with or without a gas backup burner (i.e. dual-fuel system). All of these systems are forced-air HVAC systems, and rely on free airflow to provide efficient home heating and cooling.
When the air filter becomes clogged with dirt and debris, a substantial pressure drop occurs across the blower and the appropriate amount of airflow can’t be pulled across the heat exchanger. This can cause several problems.
HVAC Filters and Performance
During the cooling months, your A/C or heat pump evaporator coil can quickly accumulate ice when there’s poor airflow. The cold refrigerant inside the evaporator coil needs airflow to absorb heat. As ice accumulates and melts, debris and microorganisms can build up in the drip pan and drain line. Over time, the drain line may clog and melted ice will eventually overflow the pan inside your home.
The blower motor is susceptible to malfunction when too much debris has accumulated due to dirty air filters and lack of regular maintenance. A faulty blower decreases airflow across the evaporator coil, which can cause ice accumulation and subsequent water leaks.
During the heating months, your gas furnace isn’t susceptible to ice accumulation, but these components can still be damaged due to a substantial pressure drop caused by a clogged filter. In fact, a furnace can overheat with inadequate airflow and shut down. Your heat exchanger is also at risk of cracking, which can leak carbon monoxide and other gases into your home.
The bottom line is to check your air filter regularly and to clean or change it as needed. For more advice on home furnace and air filters, please contact Detmer and Sons, Inc in Dayton.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Dayton, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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