Every homeowner knows that they are “supposed” to change their air filters every month. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but it is also a very easy thing to forget to do.

If air filters are not changed regularly, your system will not be working to capacity, and with this crazy central Virginia weather, we all need our ACs to work at 100%.

 

What Do Air Filters Do?

Well, for starters, they filter the air…but you probably suspected that.

Additional benefits include:

  • filtering out allergens, such as pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust
  • protecting your home from damage from larger objects that may come loose within your system
  • improved indoor air quality
  • lowering fire risk
  • improved efficiency of your HVAC system
  • lower energy bills
  • less wear and tear on your HVAC system
  • better airflow in your home, with more even cooling throughout the rooms

 

What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Air Filters Regularly?

  • extra strain on the fan motor (air filters are WAY cheaper than a new fan motor…I promise)
  • less efficient airflow
  • increased risk of your system overheating or freezing up
  • higher energy bills
  • increased risk of growing mold or bacteria
  • possible dirty ducts

For the sake of your health (and/or wallet), you want to avoid any of the above.

 

Do I Really Have to Change My Air Filters Every Month?

This simple answer is: Yes. At Mode Comfort & Air Quality, we suggest monthly filter changes especially for those with pets or those living in high pollen areas (that’s all of us here in central Virginia). Filters are inexpensive and easy to change. In fact, we discourage the use of expensive “high-end” filters, except in certain circumstances.

I can’t tell you how many times we have been dispatched to a service call, only to discover the air filter had not been changed for six months. The customer could have avoided the service call by simply changing the air filter regularly. We love our customers, and we really don’t want to charge you $69 to tell you your filters are dirty.

If you have any questions about how often you should change your filters, or what type of filters you should use, please contact Mode at 804-481-6633 or [email protected] for expert guidance. We are always happy to help.

In the winter, we often hear from customers who are experiencing a lack of humidity in the home. This can cause dry, cracked skin on humans and pets, in addition to warping, cracking, and other damage to household furnishings and fixtures. In these situations, we install a humidifier to balance the moisture in the home.

On the opposite end of things, in the summer, excess moisture in the home can lead to mold, allergens, musty odors, mildew, and warping furniture and floors…none of which we want in our living spaces. To combat these evils, we commonly install a whole house dehumidifier.

Benefits of a Whole House Dehumidifier

  • Less sweat and clamminess on your skin (you will feel cooler).
  • Minimized allergy and asthma triggers, such as mold and dust mites (both thrive in high humidity environments).
  • Eradication of comfortable insect breeding grounds.
  • Elimination of musty odors.
  • Protection for your home, furnishings, and heirlooms from warping and permanent moisture damage.
  • Improved energy efficiency. By removing the excess humidity from your indoor air, you will feel cooler at a higher temperature, enabling you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher.

We often have customers with concerns about the maintenance commitment that comes with a whole house dehumidifier. The commercial-grade Aprilaire products we install have a dedicated drain, eliminating the need to empty or change water trays.

Can’t I Just Crank Up the AC?

If your home is humid, it may seem like the answer is to lower the temperature setting on your thermostat. This may make sense on the surface because air that has too much humidity in it makes you feel warmer. I can assure you that over-cooling is not the answer; you will use more energy and still not be comfortable. If your air conditioner just can’t handle the levels of humidity you are experiencing in your home, adding a dehumidifier will boost your air conditioner’s efficiency and effectiveness.

It is as simple as it sounds: the only effective means of removing humidity is with a dehumidifier.

You may think of Mode as a heating and cooling company, but the reason our name is Mode Comfort & Air Quality is because, of course, we do heating and air conditioning, but we also specialize in other services to make the air in your home healthier and more comfortable. Contact Mode at 804-720-9185 or [email protected] today to find out if a whole house dehumidifier may be what you need for both your comfort and the air quality in your home.

 

All of them? Yes, all of them. Even the one in the bathroom that is always freezing cold? Okay, you can close that one.

Depending on many factors, the cost of heating and cooling your home can be responsible for as much as half of your electric bill. At Mode Comfort & Air Quality, we are often asked by homeowners what they can do to lower their energy costs and increase the efficiency and lifespan of their comfort systems. The first response to this question is another question:

Are all of your vents open?

You likely have a return register that is non-adjustable (just a grille), but your supply registers (through which air gets pushed through the house) will have a means to adjust them. It seems perfectly logical that if a grille is adjustable (like window blinds), then you should be free to adjust it, and many people do just that.

Wait, are you saying I shouldn’t touch the lever on the vent cover once it is opened?

Closing even a few vents can cause problems for your system. Issues can be minor, such as low air flow or condensation, or major, such as a dead compressor or a cracked heat exchanger.

Many homeowners tell us that they thought that by closing a vent or two in an unused room they were asking the unit to “work less.” The marvelous world of HVAC does not work this way. By closing vents, you are actually restricting the duct system by increasing the pressure in the air ducts, which could cause leaks. Believe me, no one wants leaky ducts. Energy Star reports that “In a typical house, however, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.”

Here is the technical part, in case you like numbers.

Air conditioners have to move a certain amount of air all the time. For instance, a 3-ton air conditioner is designed to move 400 cubic feet of air per minute (“CFM”). This flow can be raised or lowered 25 CFM without much impact on the unit (such as closing the vent in the bathroom that is always freezing…but just that one). A typical residential 6-inch metal vent moves 100 CFM. If you have a 3-ton AC and close off four vents, you just turned your 3-ton unit into a 2-ton unit. Thus, losing a third of the effectiveness (having a really dirty air filter can do the same thing).

Worst case scenario

Closing vents also causes the blower to slow down by restricting where the air can go. This can cause the evaporator coil to freeze, which will eventually destroy the compressor in the outdoor unit. Low airflow may also cause the heat exchanger to overheat, which could lead to a crack that potentially releases carbon monoxide into your house.

Final words

We suggest that you open your vents (but you probably figured that out by now), open your interior doors, change your air filters regularly, and let your HVAC unit work as it was intended. We go on many service calls that could have been avoided. At Mode, we are always happy to answer your questions and help you avoid costly repairs to your system.