Generally speaking, most people take their HVAC system for granted. It is just one more thing to think about in the ever-stressful world of home ownership. Even people who pay attention and provide preventative maintenance on a regular basis could be doing more harm than good if not careful. Depending on what type of HVAC system you have, the filter may need to be replaced monthly, or every few months. One key item to note when purchasing filters is the MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). The MERV rating tells how effectively the filter takes the dirt, dust, allergens, and other things out of the air as it passes through the HVAC system.
When replacing a filter in your home, taking notice of the MERV rating is important to make sure the correct amount of air flow is coming through the filter. Without enough airflow, the HVAC system can overheat and cause electrical or mechanical breakdowns and burnouts later on down the road.
To avoid mechanical failure and an expensive service call down the line, be sure to check your HVAC system manual for the correct filter size and MERV rating. This will give you the correct amount of airflow and make your system run as optimally as possible. Changing the filters on a regular basis is also important. Having proper air flow is the most important part of maintaining your HVAC system. If a filter is clogged it can have the same impact as having a filter that is too thick for your system.
Filters with a higher MERV rating are typically thicker and catch more particles. The caveat to that is they also require more force to push air through them. This is the reason filters have to be correctly sized for your specific HVAC system. Without proper air flow, the HVAC unit will overheat over time. This is what causes the costly repairs in the future.
If you are aware of which filter you need, and how often you should replace it, you are ahead of most people. Just make sure you are diligent with your preventative maintenance and that will help prevent service calls.
The MERV ratings on filters range from 1-20 and it will say on the side of the filter what the rating is.
MERV RATING: 1-4
These are the lowest rated filters. They are primarily for residential use. They catch the bigger things floating through your HVAC system. These items include; dust, pollen, carpet fibers, pet hair, and other things of that nature.
MERV RATING: 5-8
The next step up in MERV ratings helps remove some of the smaller irritants that are cycled through your heating and cooling system. As the MERV rating increases, the smaller the particle the filters will catch.
MERV RATING: 9-12
These filters are typically used in businesses. They are capable of catching much finer particles than the previous filters. They can even catch some of the larger bacterial cells, emissions, and some fine dust particles.
MERV RATING: 13-16
High-end filters like these are used in hospitals, or in situations where high amounts of allergens are present. These collect a very high amount of bacteria, smoke, sickness germs released from the body, and numerous other things.
MERV RATING: 17-20
This is the top-of-the-line for filters. In residential uses, and most commercial uses, it provides too much filtration and not enough air flow. These filters are used for quarantined locations and other highly sensitive areas. They are capable of catching viruses, all smoke particles, and everything else that runs through the HVAC system.
Knowing what each of these different types of filters is used for is important for being an informed homeowner. In the case of filters, the bigger MERV rating isn’t always better. If you are trying to do any type of preventative maintenance you want to make sure the correct part is put in. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at (866) 215-3831 or visit us at www.hvacpartsshop.com and we can help talk you through any issues you are having.
As we enter August, which is typically the hottest month of the year, the heat is telling us that it is here to stay. At least in the Kansas City area, where we’re at, temperatures continue to stay in the 90’s, with the occasional dip into the high 80’s for some relief. These temperatures are causing excessive heat warnings, and with excessive heat comes hazardous health risks. Places with higher humidity have additional issues. High humidity slows the evaporation of the body’s sweat, and this causes our body to overheat, and could pose even more dangerous health risks if not monitored carefully. Finding a way to stay cool in the hot weather is imperative for health reasons, as well as overall comfort.
The vast majority of heat-related illnesses are preventable. Some basic tips to avoid heat-related illnesses include the following:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If A/C isn’t available in your home call a service company ASAP, or use a public facility. DO NOT RELY ON A FAN AS YOUR MAIN COOLING DEVICE DURING A HEAT WAVE.
- Limit outdoor activity, especially from the hours of 10AM-6PM.
- Drink more water than usual.
- Try not to use the stove or oven to cook, as it will make your house hotter.
- Check on a friend or neighbor, and have them do the same for you.
Hopefully the tips above aren’t a huge worry to you, as you have a dependable air conditioning system in your home. If you do then your focus should be on staying cool, which is the result of a well-functioning and well-maintained system. However, another focus should be on saving money with your air conditioning system. Running your A/C all day every day for 3+ months (as is necessary during the regular Kansas City summer) can prove to be expensive. Here are some tips on lowering your monthly electric costs:
- Use your windows to your advantage. Keep your windows well insulated, as this will keep out unwanted warm air. Also, during rare cool periods turn off your A/C
and open up your windows to cool your home.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. An often recommended temperature is 78 degrees when you’re home, and 85 when you’re out of the house. You can save 3% – 5% on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat in the summer.
- Install a programmable thermostat as an alternative to constantly monitoring and changing the thermostat yourself. Programmable thermostats allow you to be in absolute control of the temperature in your home, day and night, home or away, saving you money in the process.
- Keep your filters clean. Check your filters monthly, or as often as specified by the manufacturer. Replace filters when needed. Preventative maintenance is important to keep your equipment running efficiently.
- Consider installing an energy efficient air conditioner. New energy efficient A/C’s have several advantages over their predecessors, including a longer lifespan, lower energy bills monthly, and the use of environmentally-friendly refrigerant.
Whole-home heating and cooling systems are expensive, there’s no other way to put it. Replacing a whole-home comfort system, especially with a quality system that will last 10+ years, can cost thousands of dollars. Money like that, to use a popular saying, “doesn’t grow on trees.” An unexpected failure in either your heating or cooling system will dip into your emergency fund, and make you allocate that money from something you really want to spend your money on, also known as in our business as a “luxury” item (think a trip, new car, boat, bike, etc.). Here at HVAC Parts Shop we don’t want you to have to go through this, so that’s why we stress to our customers preventative maintenance. Simple, preventative maintenance can help lengthen the life of your air conditioner and furnace, and put off those costs, allowing you to spend your money on what you really want.
First and foremost, changing the filters for the system is a priority. If a filter is clogged up, the air is unable to get through. If the air can’t get through the filter, components of the system begin to overheat. When they overheat, that’s when the system can start to shut down, or even break down, leading to costly repairs or a full out necessary replacement. Preventative maintenance, like regular filter changes, can lengthen the life of the unit and help it run more efficiently, saving you money in both the long and short term. Depending on the size of your filter, the time between replacements can vary.
Generally, we suggest a one-inch filter gets replaced every month, and some of the thicker ones can last up to three-four months. However, regular checks are recommended to make sure it is not too clogged up and the unit is still running efficiently. Click here to view our selection of filters if yours needs to be replaced.
Another important item to change on a regular basis is your capacitor. The capacitor regulates the electrical current running through the equipment. We recommend replacing them every 4-5 years. After a few years a capacitor can get weaker. This can cause all sorts of problems for your equipment. A weak capacitor puts unnecessary stress on the motor and compressor. This stress can cause them to overheat, or not start at all. A weak capacitor can even cause the motor and compressor’s life to be shortened. Replacing them every few years is a relatively cheap and easy fix for do-it-yourselfers. When you switch out your capacitor, it is important to discharge yourself and the capacitor before removing it. This will make it safe to touch, and can prevent an unpleasant jolt of electricity.
Contactors are important to change every 4-5 years as well. Contactors are connected to all of the main electrical. They are connected to the compressor, fan motor, thermostat, and capacitor. When the thermostat calls for cooling, the contactor closes the circuits. These closed electrical circuits let the electricity flow through the contacts and power the unit. As a contactor gets older and dirt gets into the contacts, it becomes more difficult for the circuits to close. If they can’t close properly, the contactor tries to push electrical current harder, and that causes extra stress on the electrical contacts. With extra stress on the contacts, the electrical equipment is stressed too. In order to prevent the unnecessary stress on the air conditioner, it is recommended to replace the contactor every 4-5 years.
These simple tips are the type of preventative maintenance that will help keep your home comfort system running efficiently. Replacing these parts consistently will help lengthen the life of your system. Replacing these parts will help keep the costs to a minimum, and can let you focus on the important things in life. If you need any of these parts, or other technical support, feel free to check out our website at www.hvacpartsshop.com. We’ll be happy to help you out.
H1: Basic HVAC Heating and Cooling System Troubleshooting
Your home heating and cooling system is a vital piece of your home that makes sure you and your family can feel comfortable year round. If it isn’t maintained properly, you run the risk of your system becoming less efficient that will not only wasting costly energy, but make it difficult to maintain that perfect, comfortable environment in your home. When something goes wrong, there are a few common things to check in the HVAC system for some quick troubleshooting.
H2: Time to Swap Filters
A filter that is full of dirt and dust cannot properly move the air your HVAC system needs to operate efficiently. Even if the air still is flowing, the mechanics of the system might be working harder than they need too, prematurely aging your equipment. Plan to change your filters once a month in high-use seasons and every three months the rest of the year.
H3: Thermostat Is Broken
If your house is suddenly too hot or too cold and nothing seems to be wrong with the HVAC equipment, the culprit might just be your thermostat. Fortunately, this is a simple and relatively inexpensive repair to make. Make sure that you check the status of your thermostat and see if it’s functioning properly before you start looking into other pieces of your system or planning a bigger repair project.
H4: Tripped Breaker
HVAC equipment that is completely unresponsive might throw you into a panic, but the reason might just be a tripped breaker. Be sure to immediately check out your breaker panel before doing anything other detective work. Flip the appropriate breaker back to the “on” position. That should get your system back up and running unless there was another problem inside your system. It is possible that a breaker switch could be a fluke, but if the breaker continues to trip, contact a professional to help you address what may be causing the issue.
H5: Unbalanced Dampers
Dampers in your home heating and cooling ducts restrict the airflow into any section or room. If it seems like a particular space is always too cold or too warm, you might need to adjust the dampers that lead to that room. If adjusting the dampers doesn’t completely solve the issue, you may have another issue on your hands.
H6: Leaking Refrigerant
If your home cooling system doesn’t seem to be producing air that is as cold as expected, you might have a problem with refrigerant leaking from the AC unit. If so, you will need to call a professional out to reload the system and repair any leaks.