Frequently asked questions
Why it is important have a regular preventive maintenance in my HVAC unit?
You probably wouldn't buy a brand-new car and assume to never have to inflate the tires, change the oil and investigate any abnormal noises. Your home comfort system is like your car’s engine; it’s a mechanical device with a motor, electrical components... and even fuel. So it is critical to have routine maintenance of your home comfort system by a qualified technician. If not properly and routinely maintained, even the best heating and air conditioning equipment could experience complications and become less 'fuel' efficient over time.
Are all air filters the same?
No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most cases we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing up with your installed equipment, however you may be tempted to try a different filter type for convenience or to remove extra debris from the air.
Filters have something called MERV ratings, which range from 1-20. MERV stands for "minimum efficiency reporting value". A higher MERV rating tells you that fewer particles pass through, and it catches finer particles. This sounds fantastic, and it can be, but a filter that stops finer dust and dirt will also build up more often, and pressure on your HVAC equipment will increase. If your system has not been crafted to function with this kind of filter, it can reduce your airflow around your home, affecting your comfort and energy bills. So what should you know before you buy? Unless you live in a hospital, you simply don't need a MERV rating above 13. Fun fact, most residential systems are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV rating below 13, and frequently you will discover that more expensive systems have been made to operate with a MERV rating of 8 or 11. All filters with a MERV rating of at least five should catch most of the major nuisances everyone cares about such as pollen, pet dander, and lint. While some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, we recommend hiring a pro to clean out any mold from your house you find, instead of trying to cover up the issue with a finer filter.
Often the packaging shows how often your filter ought to be replaced. There are one-month filters and there are 3-month filters. You also have filters that are two dimensional, flat screens, and you have some that are ridged with supporting wire. In our experience, the accordian style filters fare better, and are worth it for the extra durability.
You might also consider washable filters, also known as reusable filters. Some homeowners like the environmentally friendly aspect of it, because they don't add to a dump, and others think it more convenient to just yank out the filter and clean it off rather than making a special run to the local hardware store for a filter of the proper size. These filters are often designed to work several years and will save you cold cash over time, though they are more expensive initially. However, washable filters have to be dried out thoroughly before returning it back to prevent mold growth in your ducts. In addition, most washable filters usually have a MERV rating between 1 and 4, and they lose their efficiency over the years. Some washable filters have been built with updated technology, such as electrostatic air filters, that are meant to effectively improve the MERV rating.
And lastly, filters are made of different materials. Fiberglass filters are what is bought most often, and are the disposable type. Polyester and pleated filters can catch more debris, but also decrease the airflow in your residence. And there are high efficiency particulate arrestance filters, or HEPA for short
Can indoor air be hazardous for your health?
Yes, with a capital Y.E.S. Exposure to air pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. The American Lung Association estimates that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, making indoor air quality (IAQ) important for homeowners to know about. Many common household items contribute to poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric constantly emit fumes. Other sources of pollutants can include cleaning agents, paints and personal care products. The tight construction of today's homes also contributes significantly to poor IAQ. Things like weather stripping and storm doors are designed to save on energy costs. However, they also prevent proper ventilation by keeping indoor air in and outdoor air out. The result can be a buildup of contaminants within the home.
Poor IAQ can be a direct or indirect cause of several health problems. Medical groups report that as many as half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by indoor air pollution. Pollutants within the home can cause homeowners to suffer from flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and respiratory irritation. As well, two existing health problems that can be helped by improving indoor air quality are allergies and asthma. By removing airborne dust particles, the amount of exposure the respiratory system has to them is reduced. Proper ventilation also plays an important role in improving indoor air quality, helping to reduce the concentration of pollutants inside the home.