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Thu, Nov 13th - 5:59AM

Maintaining Your Furnace Filter
Clean Your House - Change Your Furnace

Recently I had my heating ducts cleaned in my house after finishing a renovation project. The duct cleaning company used a video camera to inspect my ducts before and during cleaning, what a sight to behold! There were pieces of drywall left over from the original construction and of course lots of dust. I talked to many companies prior to choosing Anderson duct cleaning, and as they explained, the main difference is two fold; one if you don’t use a service that actually contacts all the areas of your ducts you will not remove the dust that is attached to your ducts, and two; using a camera guarantees that all the dust and debris is being removed. Shawn, the owner, also gave me a great tip, when doing any kind of work in your home that can generate dust, close off your cold air returns to stop any dust from entering your duct work.

A typical house contains dust from pollen, spores, pet dander, lint, bacteria, etc. Even regular home activities like cooking or dusting add to the dust in the air inside the house. Such dust particles results in irritation of eyes and on entering the respiratory system, may cause respiratory disorders, damage to the lungs, or in unique cases, even cancer.

I now have two transparent inspection plates in my furnace, one on the cold air return and the other on the supply side duct work. As Shawn explained, after the major duct cleaning, I will now only have to have my cold air ducts cleaned when I can visibly see dust starting to collect in the duct work. Considerably cheaper than having whole system cleaned. The secret to keeping your supply side duct work clean is using a proper air filter. Shawn recommended staying away from cardboard edged filters as they often collapsed inside the cold air return and allowed dust and contaminates to pass.

In order to keep the quality of the air inside the home healthy, good quality furnace filters for your furnace unit should be used. There are various types of filters available on the market. These can be disposable, reusable or refillable. They’re usually made from materials like fibreglass, metal, man-made or natural fibres. The efficiency of a filter is decided by fibre size, fibre density, airflow rate and particle diameter. Different types of filters available in the market are:Panel Filter- These types of furnace filters commonly consist of 1” fibreglass filter installed in the ducts. However, these furnace filters are not very effective in removing dust from the air, as its primary function is protection of the internal fan and minimizing dust on the heating coil. These are a very basic filter and can trap only larger particles from the air.

Washable/Reusable Filters- These are meant for extended use, and with regular cleaning and maintenance serve a very long life. Their downside is that it is nearly impossible to get completely cleaned and therefore adds resistance to the airflow. These types of furnace filters are also not very effective in trapping very small particles.

Pleated Filters- These are a modified kind of panel filters that have pleats or folds to increase its surface area. This design change makes it more efficient at trapping dust particles due to increased surface area. However, here too, the furnace filter starts resisting airflow once it starts collecting dust particles and thus should be replaced regularly.

High Efficiency Pleated Filters- These filters have an additional component of electrostatic charge that is designed to capture extremely small particles and various allergens, which make-up 99% of the particulate composition of the air. However, even these should be changed at regular intervals to maintain the air quality, and the airflow. Alternatively, refillable furnace filters are also available in this type.

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters- These are extended filters that are able to remove sub-micron particles with high efficiency. HEPA filters have corrugated separators that have the core filters folded back and forth over it. This gives strength and also facilitates air passage between the pleats. However, these types of filters are not designed to fit most of the standard furnaces, as they require a separate system that includes a fan and a filter.

Choosing an air filter can be a daunting task with the number of filters and varying prices. One tip is common with all the experts that I read and watched on TV, if you can see through your filter then it no good. Most recommended the pleated type of filter which gives you more surface area of filter. These filters can then be chosen by the size of particulates that they will pass. The more particulates they filter the more expensive they become. Electrically charged filters were recommended to be one of the better filters as they also come in a washable model. My particle model has a pretty standard 16 X 25 X 1 inch filter but there are cartridge filters available that are up to 5 inches thick.

Electronic air filters charge the particles as they pass which then attracts them to the filter. These filters can then be removed and cleaned in your dishwasher. Both the larger cartridge filter and the electronic air filter have to be custom fitted to your furnaces cold air return.

Remember to periodically to check your furnace filter as the more particulates they collect the more frequently they should be changed as they will affect the air flow to your furnace.

Brought to you by the Alliston Home Inspector

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