HVAC Maintenance Tips for Fall and Winter

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Fall and Winter HVAC maintenanceIt’s officially fall and for a lot of the northern states in the U.S. it’s already feeling like winter. That means that furnaces are on and running hard to keep our homes warm as the temperatures are dropping and snow is falling. During these cold nights, your HVAC system becomes the most valuable piece of equipment in your home. Yet if it’s not running properly, you’ll experience less comfort and higher energy bills. One of the largest expenses for a homeowner is heating your home and producing hot water,  so you want to keep your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible to ensure your energy bill remains as reasonable as possible. Is your furnace ready for the season’s challenges? Here are some tips to keep your HVAC running smooth and efficiently, keeping you and your family warm and your heating bills down.

1. Clean or Replace the Air Filter

Changing your air filter is one of the easiest and most important things a homeowner can do to maintain their HVAC system, which is why understanding air filters and their function is so important. Furnaces have to work harder than they need to when air filters are dirty and clogged, unnecessarily driving up energy bills. When the air flow is blocked, it can cause system malfunctions and even equipment damage. Check your air filters at least once a month during the fall and winter and if they are dirty, change them with a fresh clean air filter. US Home Filters has a vast selection of furnace filters to fit your needs! Make sure you have some on hand to make monthly maintenance stress free so you won’t be without heat when you need it the most.

2. Clean the Air Vents

The same day you change the air filters is also a good time to check your air vents. Just as we vacuum our home to get the dust and particles off the floor and carpet, the same needs to be done to the air vents. Most of the contaminants and particulates in the air that passes through your HVAC system are trapped in the air filter, but, over time, some are able to pass through and build up in the duct work. Vacuuming out your air vents will help prevent blockages and indoor air quality problems, allowing warm air to flow freely, easing temperature regulation throughout your home. If your ducts are clogged with an excessive amount of dust an debris, epa.gov recommends a thorough cleaning of the air vents. If this what you’re seeing in your HVAC system, it’s probably best to have your air vents cleaned professionally. If you see just a little bit of dust, a quick vacuum of the air vents can be done yourself to keep things running smoothly and efficiently in the fall and winter months.

3. Add or Replace Insulation

Insulation is the thermal barrier of your home, keeping heat out during the spring and summer, and in during the fall and winter, therefore playing a large role in the overall efficiency of your homes HVAC system. The more heat you are able to keep inside your home, the less your furnace has to work to keep the temperature consistent. First thing to check is your attic to make sure there is adequate insulation. If you aren’t sure if your insulation needs to be replaced to added to, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. There are many types of insulation and a professional will be able to help you select the right one and make sure your home’s insulation is adequate and efficient. The cost of adding or replacing insulation in your home is usually off set over time by the savings on your power or energy bill.

4. Install a Programmable Thermostat

It is highly recommended to have a programmable thermostat installed in your home. They take the guess work and human error out of the mix and maintain a consistent temperature throughout the day without question. They enable you to set a time for the temperature to change at the same time everyday – before you leave for work or go to bed – helping keep your thermostat set at the most efficient and energy efficient setting throughout the fall and winter months. If you already have a programmable thermostat installed, make sure it has a fresh set of batteries. To see the most energy savings, a cooler temperature is recommended when you are sleeping or not at home. According to energy.gov, you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.

5. Have Your HVAC System Inspected

Having our HVAC system inspected annually ensures it is running properly. Fall is the best time to have your system inspected to make sure it’s prepared and running efficiently for the demands of winter. Looking for a heating and cooling contractor to inspect your HVAC system? The Department of Energy website offers instructions to help you find the right contractor for your needs.

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency in the fall and winter. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter in your furnace is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filters, grille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs.We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

How Often Do You REALLY Need to Change Your HVAC Filter?

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how often do you really need to change your air filterOne of the most important things you can do on your own to take good care of your HVAC system is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis. This keeps everything working properly and also helps to keep your energy bills low. Unfortunately, it is a task that is easily forgotten by many homeowners for months at a time, leading to higher energy bills and future maintenance issues. But how often do you REALLY need to change your filter? Well, it depends. Here are some general rules and recommendations to help you figure out what time frame is best for your HVAC system.

General Recommendations

It is a general recommendation to change your air filters every 30 days when using less expensive fiberglass filters. High-end pleated filters can last as long as 6 months, but these typical guidelines assume average use and don’t take into account the size and type of filter.

As a general rule, you’ll want to replace pleated air filters every 90 days. The longer the filter is in place, the more dirt, dust and allergens are trapped clogging the filter and decreasing their efficiency. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you’ll want to replace your filter more often than may be recommended. Find out below if perhaps you should be replacing your filter more often than you may think.

Does anyone in your house have allergies and/or asthma?

According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA), “indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor air quality. Outdoor air can contain harmful pollution. But indoor air can actually be worse than outdoor air.” If there is an asthmatic or allergy sufferer in your home, they are much more sensitive to airborne particulates than those that don’t suffer. If you answer yes to this question, you’ll want to change your filter every 6 weeks to keep your indoor air quality at its best.

Do you have any pets?

If you are a cat or dog owner you know all too well that odor can build up after time and that shedding is at its worst during the change of seasons. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll want to change your air filter every 2 months, especially when winter turns to spring and summer turns to fall.

Do you have younger children?

When you have young children in your home, you want to keep your indoor air quality at its best. To keep your air quality under control and your home clean, you’ll want to replace your filter at a minimal interval of every 2-3 months.

Things That Can Affect the Lifespan of your HVAC Air Filter:

1. How often you use your heading and cooling system

If you live in a mild climate and only use your AC or heater a few hours a day, one filter could potentially last you a whole season or up to an entire year. On the flip side, if you’re running your HVAC system on a nearly constant basis, the filter will need to be changed every few weeks (especially if you are using fiberglass filters).

2. The size of your house

If you live in a “smaller home”, your air conditioners and furnaces are required to pump less air for the same amount of temperature change, which could mean fewer filter changes. However, the smaller the appliance used to cool the small space often come with smaller filters, therefore you may need to change the filter as often as a filter in a larger home.

3. The air quality in your home

Your filter’s replacement cycle is also affected by the air outside and within your home. If you have poor air quality outside or pets inside, you’ll need to replace your air filter more frequently.

How to Tell When You Need to Change Your HVAC Air Filter

All of the air that circulates through your HVAC system, to either heat or cool your home, will eventually pass through the air filter. This is why it is so VERY important to keep your air filters clean and change them regularly. Dirty, clogged air filters can:

  • Cause HVAC system malfunctions and equipment damage.
  • Reduce airflow inside the HVAC system, making the fans work harder and wearing them out more quickly.
  • NOT remove particulates and contaminants as effectively as they should, therefore releasing these back into your indoor air (or the air that you and your family breath).
  • Cause contaminates to built up in your duct work.
  • Cause the HVAC equipment to work harder, increasing your home’s energy usage and your monthly electric bill payments.

Air filters should be checked at least once a month. If they are dirty they should be changed with a fresh clean air filter. When removing the air filter from the air-handler, if you hold it up to a light source you will be able to see if the filter is dirty or clogged – if you can’t see the light through the filter, then it’s definitely time for it to be changed.

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filters, grille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs.We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

Air Filter Misconceptions

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Air Filters MisconceptionsIn the United States, the most common way to stay comfortable indoors is through forced heating and cooling systems. As we’ve emphasized in the past, air filters are a crucial component to the overall function of your HVAC system. Air filters must be replaced regularly in order to keep your heating and air conditioning units working efficiently. It is also important to get the right air filter for your system. When searching for the right replacement filter, there are a number of things to consider. You may think that the brand of the filter matters, however, the best choice is the filter that removes the most pollutants (MERV rating) while allowing your HVAC system to perform efficiently. The following are some sommon misconceptions about air filters that will help you better understand their importance.

Seven Air Filter Misconceptions

Air Filters Just Keep Dust off the Equipment

Granted, as this was the original purpose of HVAC air filters, they’ve come to serve an even more important purpose: filtering out airborne contaminants and particulates from the indoor air we breathe. In other words – improving your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)!

Air Filters Don’t Need to be Replaced as Often as Recommended

If air filters are not cleaned or replaced regularly, they become ineffective which can lead to a multitude of problems. A neglected air filter that is not cleaned/replaced on a regular basis will become clogged with large amounts of airborne particles until it is completely blocked and the dust/mold is forced back into our indoor air. Dirty air filters also restrict air flow putting strain on your HVAC equipment, therefore increasing your energy bills. Make sure you check the your filter monthly and clean or replace it according to the manufacturer’s directions. For the best results, change your air filter every 30 days!

Pet Owners Don’t Need to Change the Filter More Often

If you own a pet, you may need to change the air filter up to twice as often, especially if you have multiple long-haired breeds. Pet hair and dander is an allergen found all over and throughpout homes with pets and can build up quickly, thus reducing the efficiency of the air filter. Try using free-standing room air cleaners to add extra filtration to rooms where your pet is located most often and high-efficiency pleated air filters to keep your indoor air as clean as possible.

All Filters are the Same

When choosing between air filters, the first thing to understand are MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiently Reporting Value and it is this number that tells you the effectiveness of your chosen air filter. MERV ratings are calculated by measuring the number of particles a filter can trap compared to the number the particles its trying to filter. Basically, this means that if there are two filters in the same room, the one that traps fewer particles has a lower MERV rating. However, if you simply choose by selecting the filter with the highest MERV rating, then you may be purchasing an air filter that can make your HVAC system less efficient by blocking too much of the air flow and eventually causing equipment damage, plus higher energy bills. The best choice is the filter that removes the most pollutants (MERV rating) while still allowing your HVAC system to perform as efficiently as possible.

High-Efficiency Filters Can be Used in any HVAC System

If you insist on using high-efficiency air filters, it may require some HVAC system modifications in order to increase the fan output to compensate for the restricted airflow. As stated above, if you choose a filter with the highest MERV rating (meaning the highest efficiency) that isn’t meant for your particular HVAC system, you could be making it less efficient by blocking too much of the air flow. Air filters with a MERV 8 filter could require this modification if your furnace came with a MERV 4 or lower filter.

All Filters are the Same Size

Each air conditioning system or HVAC unit has a certain sized filter that allows the filter to perform both correctly and efficiently. The filters don’t need to fit with an “air tight” seal, but you should be able to easily install and uninstall your filter without a struggle. Your filter should be a bit smaller on each side of the filter housing slot, allowing you to slide the filter in and out with ease. For most systems you can use a standard sized filter within 5/8 of an inch smaller than the air filter housing. Most AC and HVAC units use standard sized filters, but some do require a custom size air filter to be purchased and installed. Why is the filter size important? According to EPA.gov, incorrectly designed or installed filter frames can cause air seepage, which significantly decreases filter effectiveness. Plus any air flow resistance caused by using a filter that is not correctly sized can result in unnecessary stress on you HVAC unit, potential damage to your AC system and increase your energy bills.

Buying One Air Filter at a Time

Air filters may seem like something that you don’t need to keep in stock at your house, but if you stick to changing it monthly, the day sneaks up on you. Therefore – it’s wise to stock up. Buy a whole box of air filters. That way, you have a stockpile available when the time comes to change the filter. It’s easier to keep up on this task if you don’t have to make a trip to the store in order to change the filter.

We’ve outlined a few of the most common misconceptions when it comes to air filters. That being said, remember that one of the most important things you can do on your own to take good care of your expensive heating and air conditioning system is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis. The air filter in your unit is often one of the least expensive and easiest items to change. Additionally, replacing a dirty or clogged filter can have an immediate positive effect on the operation of the unit and its ability to keep the air in your home at the desired temperature without causing unnecessary strain on the moving components. A clean, fresh filter right before the approaching hot summer months will get you off to a great start!

US Home Filter offers FREE SHIPPING on any order!

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need and clear up any misconceptions! For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

Signs You Need to Replace Your HVAC System

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HVAC SystemReplace my AC or HVAC unit? How do I know? Summer is approaching which means that your HVAC system is going to be working overtime. Air conditioning systems are one of the largest investments we make for our homes, so of course you want to get the most out of yours, right? Even if you keep your HVAC system well maintained, plus clean and change your filter regularly, it’s going to have to replaced at some point. Older or damaged HVAC systems can result in increased energy bills and poor indoor air quality (IAQ). The good news? Newer HVAC systems are up to sixty percent (60%) more efficient than most of the older models – saving you money in the long run. But while installing a new HVAC system is a terrific (yet pricey) investment, most homeowners will only get a new system when the old one stops working. But is that really a good idea? Or are there signs to look for letting you know its time to be replaced?

7 Signs it’s Time to Replace Your HVAC System

1. Your System is Greater than 10 Years Old

Do you even know when your HVAC system was installed? According to the Department of Energy, air conditioning systems should be replaced every 10-15 years. Although durable, the major components of any HVAC system will begin to deteriorate after around 10 years (dependent obviously upon how often they’re used and how well they’re maintained). Systems that are over 10 years old also use a type of Freon (R-22) that is not only outdated, but also is extremely harmful to the environment. When a newer unit is installed, you will not only lower your energy bills but also help to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment.

2. Repair Costs are Greater Than Half the Cost of a New System

Many times as an AC unit is going and growing old, you’ll find yourself having to pay for frequent repairs to the system and eventually replacing some of the major components. When that starts happening, it’s time to see if replacing parts is really going to be saving you any money in the long run. If the repair costs are greater than half the cost of a new system, then it’s time to be “out with the old and in with the new”. Purchasing a new system will be a smart investment, saving you money in the long run, as well as reducing your immediate energy costs.

3. Your Energy Bills Keep Going Up

It is normal to expect increases and decreases to your energy costs as the seasons change, but each individual month should be relatively the same compared to the year before. If you have unusually high energy bills in a month where it’s not expected, it is a sign that your HVAC system needs to be serviced and possibly replaced – the older the system becomes, the less efficient it becomes. Regular maintenance (especially changing your air filters monthly), will increase the life of your HVAC system and keep it running efficiently as possible… but at some point you will need to upgrade it to a newer system. The good news is that installing a new air conditioner can cut down on your total energy bills by as much as 20%. Many people find that over a relatively short period of time their new AC unit has actually paid for itself!

4. Your House is Always a Little too Hot, or Else It’s a Little too Cold

An old HVAC system will have problems keeping your house at a consistent temperature. It could be a maintenance issue (e.g. a damaged or inaccurate thermostat, low fluid levels, cracked ducts, clogged filters, etc.); however, temperature inconsistencies usually mean that your AC system is either not powerful enough or that the duct work is not properly installed. Either way, keeping an HVAC system that is not working properly and efficiently is going to result in an uncomfortable home environment and much higher energy bills.

5. You’re Noticing More Dust in Your Home

In addition to providing you with cooled or heated air in your home, your HVAC system is also responsible for providing proper ventilation. When working properly, the system should improve your home’s IAQ (indoor air quality) by removing dust, dander, dirt, and other debris and by controlling the humidity. If you are noticing an increase in the amount of dust in your home, it could be a sign that your air conditioning system is no longer operating efficiently enough to remove it.

6. Unusual Smells & Odd Sounds

If you notice an unusual smell coming from your HVAC system, it could be just dust burning off; however, it could be something much more serious, such as melting wiring or mold in the ducts. If it is a more concerning odor, turn off your system immediately and get it inspected right away.

A properly working HVAC system should also be relatively quiet. If you hear noises that sound like grinding or squealing, this is also a sign that you need to have your system inspected immediately.

7. You Have Poor Indoor Air Quality

Your air conditioner is the biggest factor when it comes to your homes indoor air quality, especially during the summer. The air conditioning unit may be damaged if you notice mold, mildew, dust or unusual humidity levels and all may be signs that your system should be replaced. Always keep in mind that a  NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) research study concluded that over fifty percent (52%) of Sick Building Syndrome cases could be traced back to inadequate ventilation!

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filters, grille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs.We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

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Taking care of your HVAC system to keep it running efficiently is an important item to include in your home maintenance plan every spring and fall. While there are some tasks that should be saved for a professional HVAC service company, there are several tasks that you can easily perform on your own to prolong the life of your system. Take a look at our Maintenance Checklist below for an overview of the types of things you can do to help take care of your unit as well as those items that should be completed by a qualified technician.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Indoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the evaporator coil – The coil is usually located behind a door or panel above the blower motor. It is typically constructed in the shape of a letter A and covered with thin sheets of metal that are referred to as fins which are designed to best utilize the cooling effect of the refrigerant. Begin by using a soft brush to remove the outer layer of dust. Then spray with coil cleaner which can be found at your local home improvement store. Allow the cleaner to drip from the coil into the drain pan below. Clean the drain pan and ensure that the drain openly flows. This quick video
  • Clean the evaporator drain line – Warm, moist air travels through your evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed in the coil which cools it and circulates it back into your home. This process can create a humid environment which causes condensation on the coil that falls into a drip pan. A drain tube, usually about 1 inch in diameter, then carries the water into a floor or sink drain or sometimes the tube drains outdoors. A buildup of mold or algae can eventually cause a blockage. The drain tube can be cleaned by using a wet/dry vac, a plumbers snake, a garden hose, or by pouring distilled white vinegar through it.
  • Turn off water supply to the humidifier unit – Because of the humid environment created near the coil, it is recommended to turn off the water supply to your humidifier during the months when you are using your air conditioner. Some humidifier units are equipped with a Summer setting that will allow you to simply turn a knob to that setting to deactivate the humidifier for the season.
  • Change the air filterFacts About Standard Sized Air Filters – this is one of the easiest tasks you can do to keep your HVAC unit running at peak efficiency. Spring is the perfect time of year to change your air filter out since your system has likely been working hard over the previous winter months. Changing your filter now will give you a fresh start to the upcoming summer months, getting you started with a clean filter to allow your system to cool your home with ease. If spring allergies are a concern, we recommend our MERV 11 high-efficiency pleated filters to capture mold, pet dander, pollen, dust mite debris, and other contaminants.

Outdoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the area around the condenser unit – You will likely have some debris that has collected around the base of the unit over the past few months. Leaves, stick, dirt, grass clippings, and other items commonly gather up against the unit. Sometimes, the exit for the ducting of the dryer vent will lead right into the side of the condenser unit. It is important to keep the condenser and the surrounding area clean and free from any type of debris.  Clear away any buildup of debris and trash as well as trim back vegetation and branches within a minimum of 2 feet around the unit.
  • Clean the condenser unit – Remove the outer cover or grate that covers the outdoor unit. A shop vac can be used to remove any debris on the outside of the unit. A garden hose can be used to spray the fins from the inside to wash away any built-up dirt on the fins. Coil cleaner may also be applied ahead of rinsing for caked-on debris.
  • Inspect and straighten fins – Condenser fins are positioned on the covering of your condenser unit outdoors. These function similarly to the fins on your evaporator coil by assisting with airflow and heat extraction. The fins are usually made of aluminum and are thin and easily damaged. When damage occurs, it disrupts an open path for air to freely flow and can adversely affect the efficiency of your unit since it will have to work harder. Here is a quick video with some easy instructions on repairing bent compressor fins.
  • Level the condenser unit – Having a condenser that is level allows your unit to function properly. Not only is it unsightly when the condenser pad is sinking off to one side, it also causes the lubricating oil to separate which can interrupt the flow of refrigerant through the system. It can also cause strain on the coolant lines leading to your home. A few simple items are usually all it takes to level the unit.

Hire a Professional

As we have shown above, there are a number of maintenance tasks that you can complete on your own to help take good care of your HVAC system. These items can all be done by a professional as well, if you don’t feel up to it. There are additional items that are important to have a professional take care of on a regular basis. It is usually best to schedule a technician to service the unit at least once a year, but ideally every six months. Preventative maintenance on your heating and air conditioning system goes a long way in prolonging the life of your unit. HVAC service companies may differ slightly in the tasks that are included in a tune-up or preventative maintenance service inspection, but you can generally expect the following to be addressed:

 

  • system inspection
  • check refrigerant levels
  • check coil and drain line/pan
  • look at compressor and motor
  • clean areas with buildup of dirt/debris
  • check air filter (may include replacement of filter)
  • replace worn belts, parts, or connections
  • test thermostat
  • test for leaks

One of the most important things you can do on your own to take good care of your expensive heating and air conditioning system is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis. The air filter in your unit is often one of the least expensive and easiest items to change. Additionally, replacing a dirty or clogged filter can have an immediate positive effect on the operation of the unit and its ability to keep the air in your home at the desired temperature without causing uneccessary strain on the moving components. A clean, fresh filter right before the approaching hot summer months will get you off to a great start!

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need!

Call us today at 1-855-237-1673!

 

Duct Cleaning – What You Should Know

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Air duct cleaning is something that has grown in popularity over the past several years. This service can be offered by a variety of companies including those that specialize in HVAC service and repair, cleaning services, restoration, or those that focus completely on cleaning air ducts. The ductwork in our homes and businesses is nicely tucked away, but many of us would be surprised to see what the inside spaces of the parts that make up this system may actually look like. There are diverse opinions either way regarding the necessity of duct cleaning, but those that suffer from allergies and have issues with excessive dust tend to be most receptive to the idea. Because it is a relatively recent process, no scientific studies have been able to prove that it will prevent illness and there are no findings available to show a measured improvement in air quality or a reduction in air particle counts. This article will outline the basics of ductwork, discuss what is involved with professional duct cleaning, and provide information that may help you decide if having your ducts cleaned is a good option for you.

What Is Duct Cleaning?

This typically involves a cleaning process which includes several components of your HVAC system. The list below identifies the items that are potentially included when having your ducts cleaned:

  • supply, return, and intake ducts and registers
  • grilles and diffusers
  • air handler, fans, and motor
  • housings, exchangers, and coils
  • drip pans

The methods used to perform cleaning can vary slightly, but standards have been established by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to help ensure consistency across all providers of this service. Generally, you will first have an assessment of your ducts and HVAC system components listed above which will be similar to an inspection to determine the condition of your system and advise whether a cleaning is recommended or not. During the cleaning procedure, industry-specific tools are utilized to remove built-up dust and debris from the system and ducts that run through walls, under floors, and over ceilings inside your home – all in places that are nearly impossible for us to reach on our own. Then the loosened debris is vacuumed out, leaving behind a shiny, clean interior and the satisfaction of conquering those filthy ducts.

What Is Used to Clean Ducts?

There are various pieces of equipment, tools, and devices that duct-cleaning specialists will make use of when performing this service to your HVAC system.

  • Inspection Tools – items used to assess the level of debris that has collected inside the areas of the system that can be treated. These items can additionally be utilized to maintain a watch over the progress of the cleaning procedure and to determine if the results meet the desired expectations. Examples of these tools include mirrors, periscopes with lights, and cameras.
  • Compressed Air Devices – used in conjunction with many pneumatic tools that require direct air pressure. This usually comes in the form of a compressor.
  • Vacuums – specific vacuum devices are designed for use in air duct cleaning. Portable and truck-mounted units are both acceptable and approved by the NADCA. Either type of unit will create a negative pressure in the ductwork to maintain control over the flow of debris. If there is a need to extract moisture from any areas, a wet vacuum may also be used.
  • Access Tools – used to create an open path to various areas that are otherwise unreachable. Entry points are made using drills and saws, as needed, to allow equipment to successfully remove debris and clean the system. Whenever possible, access is made through diffusers, return grilles, vents, and duct end caps in order to avoid creating unnecessary openings.
  • Imaging Tools – these are used as inspection devices and also throughout the process to evaluate the results. Handheld cameras, CCTV cameras, and even remotely-operated mobile cameras that move through the ventilation as the process occurs can all be used to provide a clear view of the work performed.
  • Chemicals – cleaners and disinfectants may be recommended in some cases. These would include such things as biocides to kill bacteria and mold and sealants to repair leaks. Any chemicals or sanitizers used must be registered by the EPA. The NADCA provides a guide that discusses the use of chemicals related to duct cleaning.

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, this is something you will need to watch out for. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to do your research before choosing a company. Here are a few pointers you will want to consider.

  • Cheap offers that, once in your home to perform the job, will convince you to do a “mold inspection” only to determine that you have a mold problem that they will offer to take care of for additional charges. This is commonly done to cover costs of coupon or discount deals. If you are concerned about mold, hire a reputable company that specializes in mold testing.

Consumer Checklist

Now that you are familiar with the basics of air duct cleaning and armed with a few helpful tips of caution, you will want to ensure that you have done the following before making a final decision.

Read information from different trusted online sources

Read independent reviews and recommendations for companies you are considering

Get more than one estimate and references from each company

Choose a verified member of the NADCA to perform the service

Create a preventative care list that includes yearly inspection of your heating and cooling system, regular changes of the system air filter, and steps that ensure you prevent moisture from getting into the system.

At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you are looking for the highest level of air quality and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sick Building Syndrome and IAQ

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Sick Building Syndrome and Indoor Air QualityHave you ever heard the term “Sick Building Syndrome”? Just by the name alone, you can conclude that it has something to do with being in an unhealthy indoor environment. Sick Building Syndrome, or SBS, is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. Those who spend the most time in the unhealthy environment are the ones most effected with symptoms such as tight chest, wheezing, sore throat, eye and nose irritation and in some sever cases, dizziness and nausea. But what makes a building ‘sick’? The causes of SBS are usually linked to flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Factors That Contribute to Sick Building Syndrome

Inadequate Ventilation

The amount of fresh air that is brought indoors is extremely important. Shockingly, a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) research study concluded that over fifty percent (52%) of SBS cases could be traced back to inadequate ventilation. When central air conditioning and heating systems first began to be installed in buildings, building ventilation standards called for approximately 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outside air for each building occupant. Then came the oil crisis in the early 1970’s which reduced the ventilation standard to only 5 cfm in order to save energy. And it did. However, the health of the building occupants suffered and people started getting sick in droves. Thankfully, 20+ years later, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a ventilation standard that balanced adequate ventilation and energy efficiency to prevent sickness. Now we are back to a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air per person and 20 cfm per person in office spaces.

Carbon Dioxide

When there are high levels of CO2 (above 800 to 1000 parts per million) in the air the room can begin to feel ‘stuffy’. However, SBS symptoms can occur at a much lower concentration and anything above 1000 ppm can cause people to become quite sick. Thankfully, this level is very uncommon due to the proper ventilation system requirements as described above.

Chemical Contaminants from Indoor Sources

Have you ever stopped to think about all the chemicals that make up the structure of our indoor spaces? Carpet, upholstery, paint, adhesives, copy machines, cleaning agents, etc. are all a part of our everyday lives and they bring an abundance of unhealthy chemicals into the air we breathe. These toxins include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), e.g. formaldehyde, which cause chronic and acute health effects at high levels.

Outdoor Contaminants

Outdoor air that enters into a building can be a factor in indoor air pollution. While adequate ventilation is required, the type of air that comes inside is equally as important. If you’ve ever driven on a toll road, did you think about all the exhaust fumes the toll road workers are exposed to? Or the drive-through operator at a fast food restaurant with the window open while idling cars wait for their food order. Outdoor contaminants can also come into a building if the air intake vents are poorly located and polluted air is sucked into the building instead of fresh air.

Natural Toxins

Mold, bacteria, viruses and pollen are all examples of natural toxins and they can grow if your HVAC system isn’t properly taken care of. If there are standing pools of water near an HVAC unit, mold will begin to grow, especially as outdoor temperatures rise. If there is any water damage inside the building on the carpet, ceiling tiles or insulation, this can also be a cause of mold growth if not properly taken care of. Plants and weeds growing can also cause issues with restricting air flow into a building and pull more pollen and allergens into your indoor air.

How Can We Prevent Poor Indoor Air Quality?

Improving air filtration is the most beneficial thing that can be done to reduce the effects of poor indoor air quality. Air filtration provides us with a means to attain the desired level of indoor air quality. Air filters were originally intended to simply shield the components of your expensive HVAC system, thus protecting it from harmful dust build-up and extending its life. As the manufacturing process of air filters evolved over the decades, filtration media became more refined and specialized which allowed us to go beyond system protection into cleaning contaminants, allergens, and other bothersome particles from our air using high-efficiency pleated air filters. This has allowed a significant improvement in indoor comfort and cleaner air in our homes and businesses.

US Home Filter is Here for YOU

Choosing the best filters for your home or business can be overwhelming and confusing sometimes. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or, for personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

Benefits Of Home Air Filters

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While the number of benefits that come from using air filters in your home can be outlined in a fairly short and straightforward list, it is a list that contains three very valuable points and will provide you with a full understanding of the true advantages that you can expect to experience from these relatively simple items. Air filters come in a vast number of sizes and several MERV ratings. Despite the extensive differences in size and the many types available, all air filters are designed to fill these main purposes. Although the size you need is basically determined by the size required by your unit and the space allowed for the air filter to be installed in, most will have the flexibility to determine which of the varied MERV ratings will be most suitable to fit their needs for the desired level of dust control and allergen reduction. We begin by discussing the original intended purpose for air filters and the actual reason why they were created.

Protecting Your HVAC System – Benefit #1

The most common reason for the malfunction or failure of a heating and air conditioning system is a lack of maintenance. Often, the culprit is dust which sometimes builds up on the expensive moving parts of the unit. Once the dust has accumulated to a high enough level, there will inevitably be problems. These problems, when associated with dust, can almost always be easily preventable by regular maintenance. One of the simplest ways to maintain your system and preserve its life on your own is to simply use an air filter that fits properly and change it when it has reached its capacity to hold dust and effectively allow a proper rate of airflow so your home can be heated or cooled to the desired temperature.  Providing your Heating and Air Conditioning system with a protective barrier against dirt and debris is the original and primary reason for using home air filters. Air filters, although inexpensive in comparison to the cost of your HVAC unit, carry a high level of responsibility in keeping your system running efficiently and smoothly. Your air filter traps dust and dirt particles before it reaches the internal and moving components of the unit. What parts are contaminated with dust build-up when a poorly-fitting, low-quality, or dirty filter are used?

  • fan blade
  • motor
  • coil
  • duct work and vents

Reducing Dust In Your Home – Benefit #2

By preventing dust and debris from collecting on the mechanical parts of your heating and air conditioning system, your filter is also working hard to minimize the dust levels in your home’s air. Using a high-efficiency pleated filter provides a great deal of surface area which translates to a considerable amount of dust-holding capacity. Pleated filters are capable of trapping and holding several grams of dust that would otherwise be blowing through your ducts and back into your air where it would inevitably settle on all those surfaces that we prefer not to continuously dust off. Battling dust that continues to reappear on bookshelves, tables, window treatments, and decor is a constant point of frustration. It is virtually impossible to fully eliminate dust because there are so many sources, but your air filter is a great supporter of your fight to reduce dust as much as possible. We recommend a minimum of a MERV 8 rating on your home air filter for those that need to control average levels of dust, but those that need greater protection from smaller dust particles (fine, suspended dust) would benefit from a higher MERV rating. As you increase the MERV rating you capture finer particles and remove a higher percentage of dust and microscopic particulate matter (PM). It is this subject of filtering fine particles, even as small as attached bacteria and viruses, that leads us into the next benefit which has become a very popular topic of discussion just in the past few years.

Improving Your IAQ – Benefit #3

Although system protection is the priority and dust reduction is a close runner-up, we cannot ignore the importance to many consumers of air filters as they relate and contribute to our indoor air quality (IAQ). This has become increasingly important as it is believed that the average person spends 90% of their time in indoor spaces where concentrations of pollutants are 2-5 times greater as compared to the outdoor levels. Of course we would likely desire the cleanest air in the areas where we tend to spend the greatest amount of time. For those that have serious concerns and have experienced the benefits of having their air as clean as possible, IAQ may feel like the most important factor in air filtration. Of course they likely desire to protect and preserve their system and minimize dust, but those with severe allergies and sensitivities to certain particulates and contaminants often appreciate a quality high-level filter as much as some of the other items they use, such as allergy medication, to lessen the symptoms caused by allergens. A MERV 8 rating is sufficient for those that have mild allergies and sensitivities. We recommend a MERV 11 rated air filter when you experience a moderate level of allergy issues. If you are highly sensitive to particulates, pollution, contaminants and various allergenic elements, you should definitely consider trying a MERV 13 filter which will scrub your air from the finest particles and keep your air as clean as fresh as possible.

US Home Filter offers FREE SHIPPING on any order!

Choosing the best filters for your home or business can be overwhelming and confusing sometimes. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we have an experienced and friendly staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

Spring Cleaning Your HVAC Unit

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Spring Cleaning your HVAC unitSpring is around the corner and “Spring Cleaning” has become a tradition in many households throughout the country. As you open up your windows, both letting the fresh air in and dusting off everything that has been in winter hibernation, it’s important not to forget your HVAC system! The weather will gradually get warmer, and when it does, you’ll want your A/C unit working at its peak performance. Proper maintenance of your HVAC system ensures that your unit is running efficiently and doing its job. When this is done, you’re able to maximize your use of energy which is not only good for the environment, but also good for your monthly power bills.

Steps To Take To “Spring Clean” Your HVAC System

Change Your Air Filter

We cannot stress enough the importance of a clean air filter, as you may have noticed from several of our previous blog posts (like winterizing your HVAC unit). Clean air filters keep the air in your home free from harmful pollutants that are potentially hazardous to your health and that of your family. Since all of the the air that circulates through your HVAC system eventually passes through the air filter, it’s so VERY important to keep your air filters clean and change them regularly. Dirty, clogged air filters can:

  • Cause severe HVAC system malfunctions and equipment damage.
  • Reduce airflow inside the HVAC system.
  • NOT remove particulates and contaminants as effectively as they should. (These are then released back into the air that you breathe).
  • Result in duct work build up and damage.
  • Cause the HVAC equipment to work harder, increasing your energy usage and therefore your monthly electric bill.

Air filters should be checked at least a minimum of once a month and if they are dirty they should be removed and changed out for a fresh, clean air filter. A helpful tip to know if your filter is dirty or not: hold it up to a light source – if you can’t see the light through the filter, then it’s time for a new one.

Air Duct Cleaning

During the fall and winter months, as the heat passes through your HVAC system, most of the contaminants are trapped in the air filter; however, some do pass through which can lead to a build up in the duct work over a period of time. To prevent potential air flow blockages and indoor air quality problems, plus keep the temperature in your home consistent, vacuuming out the air vents is highly recommended. According to EPA.gov, a thorough cleaning of the air vents is recommended if the ducts are clogged with an excessive amount of dust and debris or if there is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. If this sounds like your home, call a professional to clean your air ducts. Otherwise, a quick vacuuming may be sufficient.

Clean Standing Water By Your HVAC Unit

Moisture is one of the main requirements needed for mold to thrive and molds can grow and multiply in temperatures between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If there are standing pools of water near your HVAC unit, the mold will grow and increase as the temperature rises and result in the moldy and musty smell to start blowing into your home. Standing water will also do swift and severe damage to whatever it touches, so its very important to get any areas cleaned up, preventing water damage to your HVAC unit and keeping the air in your home free from mold and mustiness. Here are some reasons you may find water around your HVAC unit:

  • PVC drain line is plugged
  • Filter is plugged
  • Drain pan has a leak
  • Condensation pump issues

Remove Plants And Weeds From Around Outside Unit

As spring approaches, plants and weeds start to grow and they also grow around your outside HVAC unit. Trimming back these plants is one of the easiest ways to keep your energy bills low. If plants and weeds grow too close to your HVAC unit, it can restrict air flow to your system causing higher bills and shorter equipment life. You should have at least 24 inches (or two feet) of distance between your landscaping and your air conditioning unit. This allows enough adequate air flow to the unit, keeping it cool and preventing your HVAC unit from possibly overheating. It also reduces overall electrical consumption. So be sure to add ground clearing around your AC unit to your spring cleaning list!

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filters, grille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs.We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

What is the Best Air Filter for My Home?

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Which Air Filter is the Best for Your Home?Like most homeowners, if you’re in need of a new air filter you may just go to the nearest hardware store, Walmart or Costco and pick out a filter that fits your return air duct. However, doing so may not save you any money and, more importantly, not improve your health or that of your family. Just like all other home purchases that you make, there are many factors that go into choosing the right air filter – one that will perform efficiently and cost effectively. The more you know, the better able you are to make more discerning choices.

As we’ve talked about before, the first thing to understand are MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiently Reporting Value and it is this number that tells you the effectiveness of your chosen air filter. MERV ratings are calculated by measuring the number of particles a filter can trap compared to the number the particles its trying to filter. Basically, this means that if there are two filters in the same room, the one that traps fewer particles has a lower MERV rating.

Now that you know how to look for and understand MERV ratings, it’s important to note that this isn’t the only factor that’s involved in choosing the right filter for your AC unit. If you simply choose by selecting the filter with the highest MERV rating (higher efficiency is better than low efficiency, right?) then you may be purchasing an air filter that can make your HVAC system less efficient by blocking too much of the air flow. When this happens the system can’t heat or cool enough air to correctly control the temperature in your house. This would lead to higher energy bills and could even overheat your entire system.

So it’s all about the balance – the best choice is the filter that removes the most pollutants (MERV rating) while allowing your HVAC system to perform efficiently. Here are the four different types of filters, what their made of, their MERV and what you need to know to make the most informed decision. It may take some experimenting to find which filter works the best for your home’s HVAC system, but the more you know, the sooner you’ll find “the one”.

Fiberglass Filters

Made from spun fiberglass and often blue, these filters are one of the most popular. They usually have a low MERV rating between 1 and 4, catching 80% of particles 50 microns and larger and 25% of particles between 3 and 10 microns.  These filters do a great job of protecting your HVAC unit from large dust particles but will not trap mold, pollen or other small particulates, therefore they are not recommended for people with allergies.

Pleated Air Filters

Comprised of folded sheets of cotton or a polyester-blend fabric, pleated filters are folded accordion style allowing a larger fabric surface in a smaller area. The more pleats, the easier air can pass through the filter making it a higher-efficiency choice with a MERV rating from 5 to 8, trapping 80-95% of particles 5 microns and larger. If you find a cotton/polyester filter with lots of pleats and a MERV value of 6 or greater, it could be your ideal air filter solution as it removes a large number of pollutants AND keeps your HVAC system working at top-notch condition.

Pleated air filters also come in high MERV ratings from 11-13 which can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. At this efficiency level, they are about 2″-5″ thick and fit into box-like housings that are mounted onto the air handler.

Disposable Electrostatic Filters

With a MERV rating of 10 or more, these filters are very effective at decontaminating the air inside your home. Electrostatic filters are made of multiple layers of self-charging, polyester-blend fibers that create their own static charge which attracts particulates out of the air. They are framed by a polyester mesh. As air passes through positively-charged outer material, particulate matter becomes charged and is then attracted to the negatively-charged inner material. Electrostatic filters can be on the pricey side.

Washable Electrostatic Filters

Made of washable material, cased in aluminum mesh and framed in aluminum, these filters have MERV ratings of up to 10 or greater. To keep them working their best, they need to be washed about every three months and, as with all purchases, quality varies with cost. Higher quality washable electrostatic filters can last up to 8 years; however, some of them aren’t always high efficiency and its hard to tell the difference. After washing, the filters must dry completely. If they have even a little bit of moisture and placed back in the air exchange, they can grow mold and bacteria that is then circulated through your home.

US Home Filter is Here for YOU

Determining the size that your system requires and choosing the MERV rating that is best for you can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased air filters for your home or if you have a new unit or home to buy filters for. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or call us and we can easily assist you with ordering the exact air filter size you need and recommend the best rating for you depending on the level of filtration you want. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!