Preparing for the Colder Months Ahead

Believe it or not, fall is right around the corner. As we cherish these last days of warmth and sunshine, we may also be thinking about fall cleanup, and the list of things we can do to welcome the changing of seasons and prepare for the colder months ahead.

A typical fall “to-do” list may include things like: looking for a good deal on heating oil or firewood, pulling the snowblower out of storage, preparing for leaf cleanup, or scheduling a time to get the snow tires put on the car…

But how many of us think about changing the air filters on our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems?

We know it may seem like a trivial detail when compared to something more obviously tangible, such as, planning for snow removal, or making sure you have enough firewood to keep from freezing, but actually, these filters may be a bigger deal than you might think.

Let’s pose a question: How well would you be able to breathe with a mouthful of dirt?

This question may sound a bit silly, but if you were to take a close look at the intake area of your heating and cooling unit, you’d see where we’re going with this.

In order to heat or cool your building, HVAC units draw air in from the outside, warm it or cool it, then release it back into your work or living space at the temperature you dialed on the thermostat. But what happens when the flow of fresh, outside air gets partially (or significantly) blocked? Well, lots of things; none of which are good for you, your system, or your wallet.

Let’s explore…

The fact is, the ability for your system to circulate fresh air is one of the most essential elements to proper overall functioning. When the air filters become clogged with dust and debris, it is effectively like making your system have to breathe through a straw. Or, to keep with the original analogy, like breathing through a mouthful of dirt. Not pretty.

When the airflow gets blocked, it puts excessive strain on the blowers and mechanisms responsible for moving air through the system. This yields a number of significant issues. Here are a few of the most common:

• Reduced Efficiency

When airflow gets restrained, the overall volume of conditioned air gets reduced, leading to the system having to work for longer periods of time to produce the same effects. The end result of this is increased energy usage and a big, fat sting to your wallet. We get it, nobody wants to spend their hard-earned money on an air filter. There are about 1,000 things more exciting to purchase. But, look at it from the bright side, with all that money you’ll be saving by controlling your utility bills, you can afford to go out and treat yourself!

• Allergens (Ah…Choo!)

Imagine air moving through an old, dirty air filter literally caked with allergy-inducing contaminants, then being pumped through ductwork into your home or workspace. If this doesn’t tickle your nostrils like a turkey feather, then you’re either one of the rare individuals with absolutely zero allergy issues, or an alien. The worst part of this, is that when allergens start to work their way through your first line of defense, (a.k.a. Mr. Air Filter) they can begin to backup and accumulate in your ducts. Once this happens, they can literally end up getting pulled into the air you breathe for months as they slowly, but surely release themselves.

• Short-Cycling

A good quality system is designed to cycle on and off periodically throughout the day. However, when an air filter becomes clogged, and the performance of the unit is compromised, these cycles start occurring at a more rapid pace. This is not only annoying, but puts extra strain on the system, creates more temperature fluctuations, and uses excess energy.

• Reduced longevity and costly service and/or replacement

Your heating and cooling system will last a lot longer if you pay attention to maintaining it. Air filters stop dust and dirt from building up on your unit’s internal components. When they are neglected, they cause a lot of additional and unnecessary wear and tear that can lead your unit to fail. Now, instead of swinging by the hardware store during your morning errands, you’re calling a service technician out for a costly repair or replacement.

• Uneven Heating or Cooling

Just like your car would sputter or stall with poor fuel or air supply, so will your HVAC unit if gets all plugged up. When air cannot move properly through the system, areas within your building or home can begin to feel uneven, leading to a less than optimal level of comfort.

So, as you begin to prepare for fall cleanup and winterization over these next few weeks, you may want to add “install new air filters” to your to-do list. It’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive action item that will pay dividends in the future.

Better yet, give us a shout at Suburban Companies and schedule your annual maintenance appointment. Taking a proactive approach to keeping your HVAC system up to snuff is the best way to make sure it’s operatiing at an optimal rate – stretching the life of the technology and the money in your wallet.