During the fall, we place a heavy emphasis on regular heating system maintenance. Annual inspections and tune-ups for residential furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps are essential for reliable heater performance through the winter. This service also helps cut down on high energy costs.
Heating maintenance is a professional service; you can’t go DIY with the tasks involved. However, there is one important maintenance step for a heating system that you need to take care of yourself during the season, and that’s regularly changing the air filter. A technician will do this for you during maintenance, but after that, you’ll have to handle the filter changes for the rest of winter season. (Unless you have a boiler, which is a radiant heating system that doesn’t use a filter.)
Why Filter Changes Are Important
The filters in forced-air systems like furnaces and heat pumps are designed to protect the interior components from dust and dirt contamination. But over the winter, the accumulation of debris in a filter will eventually clog it. When this happens, it will first start to cut into the heating system’s energy efficiency, leading to a rise in bills. If a clogged filter is left in place, the stress will distort it and allow contamination into the system, which can result in burnt-out blower motors and frozen heat pump coils.
When to Change the Filter
The frequency of changing the filter depends on the type of filter. Inexpensive panel filters made from fiberglass will usually need to be replaced after a month of regular furnace or heat pump operation. Stronger pleated fiberglass filters can sometimes last for three months. Your maintenance technician can assist you with figuring out the ideal schedule for filter changes. However, you should check the filter monthly during the winter to make sure that it isn’t becoming clogged. To help regularize the schedule, write the date you put in the new filter on its side when you replace the old one.
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