Common Air Filter Mistakes

7 Common Air Filter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It’s probably safe to say that you don’t spend your day thinking about the air you’re breathing in. Unfortunately, that air is likely full of impurities that can cause you harm unless it’s being filtered properly.

Luckily, HVAC systems are designed to not only keep you comfortable but also keep your air clean as well. Each system has air filters that clean the air before it’s pushed through into your home. It’s a great system that is proven to work very well if everything is set up correctly. 

The key is making sure you’ve done everything properly. We’re here to help you have the cleanest air by avoiding these common air filter mistakes. 

1. Forgetting to Change It

When they’re working right, an HVAC system often turns into an out of sight, out of mind appliance. That’s when we forget about changing air filters. 

If you wait too long to change your air filter, you’re going to run into some problems. At the very least, you’ll be breathing in more dust and dirt than you’d probably like. But if too much dirt builds up the whole system won’t be able to function properly, which could lead to costly repairs. 

The air filter you purchase will have a recommended timeframe for changing it out. Generally, this is every three months. Even if the filter doesn’t look dirty, you should still stick with this timeline to ensure maximum system efficiency. 

2. Getting the Wrong Size

Not all HVAC systems are created equal. It’s the same with air filters. Each system will require a different size to fit just right. 

The filter should fit snug in the system without having to force it in. It’s important that the filter fit securely so that it completely covers the airflow and can therefore catch the largest amount of particles. Filters that are loose or too small will let air move past them without filtering anything out. At that point, you’ve paid for a filter that isn’t doing its job.

A quick look at your main system hub may show you what size filter you need. If it’s not indicated there, you can measure the length and the width of the spot and find the closest match. You should note that most air filters are listed with a nominal size and an actual size. The nominal size is the size rounded to the closest one or one-half inch. The actual size will be the true size of the filter and should match your own measurements.

3. Installing Incorrectly 

Once you’ve found the correct option from all the different filter sizes, it’s time to install it in the system. The only way the filter will work is if the air is moving through it in the right direction. 

Often times people ignore air filter installation instructions and have their filter facing the wrong way. This can cause real problems with the system as the air has a more difficult time circulating, making the machine work harder. 

Each air filter should have an arrow that indicates the direction it should be installed for the air to flow through correctly. You should always install the filter with that arrow pointing towards the HVAC system. This ensures the air is being filtered instead of just pushed through. If your filter doesn’t have an arrow, the side with the metal will face towards the system. If you have an air intake filter, located on the ceiling or wall of your home, the arrow will point into the ductwork.

Airflow Direction
The arrow on your filter should point towards the HVAC system, as shown here.

4. Not Paying Attention to Filter Type

Not only are there different size air filters, but there are also different types altogether. In order to get the most from your system, you need to pick the filter with the qualities you’re looking for and the right one for your system. 

The main difference in air filters is the material they’re made of which alters how and what they filter. 

If you have extreme allergies or respiratory issues in your household, you’ll want to look for a filter that is extremely efficient and has a high MERV rating. If you’re not great at remembering to change the filter, one that can be reused after washing may be a great option. Each type has been approved for use, so you need to find the best one for your specific needs. 

5. Infrequent HVAC Inspections 

Even if you’ve been religious about changing your air filter on time and making sure everything is installed correctly, you still may run into problems. And there’s nothing worse than your HVAC system breaking down on the hottest or coldest day of the year. 

This is why it’s important to have regular inspections by an HVAC professional. These inspections will allow you to see potential problems before they ruin your day (and wallet). An inspector will also tell you if you’ve, in fact, been taking care of your filters or not. 

6. Ignoring MERV rating

Another important thing to pay attention to when you’re choosing an air filter is the MERV rating. A MERV rating is the minimum efficiency reporting value, which is the measurement of how well the filter captures particles from the air. 

The higher the number the more particles the filter grabs. So, essentially, you want an air filter that has a high MERV rating to ensure that you’re getting the most particles filtered out as possible. To determine which filter will have a maximum impact, the MERV rating helps you find just that filter. 

7. Omitting Regular Checks 

Every air filter comes with a recommended lifespan but occasionally that is a very generous estimate. It’s terrible if the producer says the filter should last four months, so you let it go that long. But when you change it you see that it should have been changed much sooner than that. 

Also, environmental factors, like a wildfire nearby or a higher amount of dirt outside, can decrease the lifespan of an air filter. 

It’s important to perform regular checks on your air filter, even before its expiration date. This doesn’t have to be a major task, a simple monthly visual inspection should show you if the filter is in need of changing or not. 

Most Common Air Filter Mistakes 

While an HVAC system is a complicated piece of machinery, the filter is a simple thing to keep your system running in tip-top shape. Now that you know the common mistakes of air filters and how to avoid them, you’re in great shape to have clean air and a system that runs efficiently.

If you’re looking for a great air filter that’s perfect for your home and system, we have an American-made AIRx Filter just for you!

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