Category Archives: Air Filters

Dirty Air Filters: Remedies and Solutions

Whether you’ve noticed that your air filter is suddenly clogging faster, or you’ve always had an excessively dirty air filter in spite of following the professional recommendations, there are causes and solutions. Besides the hassle of changing filters often, a quickly clogging filter may indicate an HVAC problem that needs attention.

You have pets.

It’s surprising how much pet hair and dander cats and dogs contribute to the indoor environment. What doesn’t show up on your furniture and floors probably gets trapped on the air filter. If you have large long-haired pets or more than one, the filter will clog quickly.

Frequent vacuuming helps, but the most effective way to reduce airborne fur is to brush your pets frequently, especially during the spring and fall.

The filter has a high efficiency rating.

A filter that traps more particulates is denser and will fill with dust faster than an inexpensive filter that’s porous. As long as the filter isn’t too dense for your system, most HVAC manufacturers recommend that you use a use more efficient filters to protect the equipment.

You have leaking ductwork.

Your ductwork can develop leaks at any stage, from brand new to old. If you’ve noticed that the dirty air filter is a recent change to your HVAC system, it’s possible for the ductwork to have broken apart.

Look at the registers in each room for an excessive amount of dust, or check the air volume coming from the duct. If you suspect a leak, contact your HVAC contractor immediately. Professionals will test the ductwork and use a variety of methods to seal them completely.

Ductwork leaks waste energy by losing the air you’ve paid to cool to places where you don’t need it. They also pull in harmful substances into your home’s breathable air, which can irritate anyone with allergies, asthma, or a compromised respiratory system.

If you suspect that your dirty air filter is problematic of a larger HVAC issue, contact the pros at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland area homeowners.

HVAC Alarms: How to Remember to Change the Air Filter

HVAC Alarms: How to Remember to Change the Air FilterAs simple as it is, the air filter plays a big role in the efficient and durable functioning of your HVAC system. It safeguards the air handler from dust, which harms all things mechanical and electrical. If you want lower cooling bills and low maintenance costs, make checking the filter a priority.

Going High-Tech

Upgrade the thermostat. Programmable and Wi-Fi thermostats may have a feature that tracks the amount of time the HVAC system runs and turns a light on, sends you an alert, or beeps when it’s time to check it.

Install an air pressure sensor. Pressure sensors that fit between the air handler and the filter measure the air pressure. When it falls too low, it will send a signal to the monitor to let you know it’s time to change the filter. These are the most convenient, although not commonly used, devices if you want to keep your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently.

Use your smartphone or computer. Use the calendar function to notify you when to check the filter.

Using Low-Tech Methods

  • Check the condition of the filter when you get your electricity bill. Since the amount of the bill is tied to the HVAC system, it makes sense to relate one to the other. Since HVAC system usage is seasonal, you won’t need to check it when your HVAC system hasn’t been used during months of little to no usage.
  • Write the filter check date on a wall calendar. Cross it off afterwards and note whether you changed it. The dust load in your home dictates how often it needs changing. Homes with pets, carpeting, or heavy fabrics tend to generate more airborne particulates the filter captures.

    If you want to reduce the level of dust and particulates, vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter instead of sweeping, and replace carpeting with hard surface floors.

To learn more about easy and convenient ways to check the air filter using high-tech devices, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide HVAC services for Portland area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall Allergies

Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall AllergiesPortland ranks high among the worst places for airborne allergies, primarily from trees, weeds, and pollen. Fortunately, the best air filters for your HVAC system reduce the irritations that the widespread proliferation of ragweed pollen causes.

Look for its MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The scale runs from 1 to 16 and higher numbers indicate the filter traps smaller particles. Some manufacturers have simplified the scale and label their filters as “good, better, and best.”

Filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 4 are equivalent to the “good” designation. Those rated between 5 and 8 are better, and the highest for residential purposes range between 9 and 12.

Pollen particles are small and will pass through filters with MERV ratings 7 and below. Higher MERV rated filters will capture a higher percentage of these particles. Choose a filter with a better designation or whose MERV rating is 9 or higher.

Words of Caution

Before upgrading the filter for your HVAC system, consult your owner’s manual for the highest rated filter you can use with it. Denser filters slow the air flowing through the air handler and putting a filter inside it that exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation will raise energy bills and may cause system problems.

Many of the best air filters for allergy relief are pleated. They capture more particles because of their greater surface area and denser weave. Because they’re more effective at trapping particles, they need to be checked and replaced more often than lower rated filters.

Running your system with a dirty filter pulls dustier air through the ductwork, which defeats the purpose of using your HVAC system to control pollen and other airborne allergies. Unless the pollen is trapped at the filter, it can continue to circulate through your home’s air wherever else it lands.

Ductwork, carpet, furniture, and window coverings all hang onto these particulates and when they’re disturbed, your allergies may flare up again.

The best air filters can ease your suffering through allergy season and longer. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Summer is Over: Change Your Air Filter

Summer is Over: Change Your Air FilterThe end of summer means it’s time to change air filters before the heating season starts. If you haven’t used your furnace since spring, why do you need to put in a new filter? Here are some important reasons for changing your air filter after summer:

Dust and Debris Buildup

Dust and debris can build up on your furnace filter, especially if it shares the same ductwork as your air conditioner. Putting in a new HVAC filter removes this buildup and prevents it from being blown around your home, which would lower your indoor air quality. A brand new filter helps keep the air in your home clean and healthier to breathe.

Improved Efficiency

A dirty air filter means that your HVAC system has to work harder to cool or heat your home. This can end up causing damage that shortens the life span of your system. Changing air filters helps keep your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible. This has the added benefit of reducing your monthly energy bills, since your HVAC system uses less power overall.

When to Change Air Filters

How often do you need to change your air filter? This depends on certain factors, such as whether or not you have pets in your home. If you have pets, you should check and change your filter every one or two months. If you don’t have pets, you should be able to wait and change it every three months.

Reminders to Change Your Air Filter

It’s easy to forget to change your air filter, especially during summer. You can set a reminder for yourself on your phone or tablet, so you’ll remember. Another way to remember is to buy an extra filter and place it close to your HVAC system as a visual reminder. Consider putting a note on it with the date that it needs to be changed. This should help you remember to check your air filter and change it as needed.

For information on maintenance services and plans for your HVAC system in your Portland home, please contact Roth Heating and Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Know These Things About Washable Air Filters

Know These Things About Washable Air FiltersWhile it’s almost always better to choose products that are reusable instead of disposable to keep the planet healthier, it’s not so with most washable air filters for your HVAC system. The air filter you use for your system affects its energy consumption, dependability and durability.

The differences between reusable and throwaway filters might be hidden to the eye, but over time, your HVAC system might show the signs, which include:

  • Higher repair costs. Reusable filters aren’t as dense as disposable filters, which let smaller particles enter your air handler. They may only catch animal fur and human hair, along with lint and larger dust particles.

    The remaining particulates, including dust mite waste, mold spores, animal dander and pollen will pass through. When these smaller particles get inside the air handler, they’ll land on the parts and act as insulation.

    Heat builds on the parts, which is one of the most common causes of reduced component life and system breakdowns.

  • Poor air quality. Since the smaller particulates will circulate through the air, your indoor air quality will suffer when exclusively using washable air filters in your home. Family members who suffer from allergies or asthma will experience more discomfort.
  • Mold growth. Reusable air filters have to be washed to remove the particles on them. If they’re replaced with any kind of moisture inside them, they can support mold growth. Some types of mold are harmless, but others may precipitate a health problem in sensitive individuals.

When you’re choosing an air filter, check your owner’s manual or contact us contractor for the best type to use. One the filter becomes too dense it will slow the airflow through the system too much, and one that’s too porous, like reusable filters, won’t trap small particles that eventually will harm the equipment.

The money and materials you save using washable air filters may not have a positive effect on the environment or your budget if they result in higher costs associated with repairs or your health. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Sherwood area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Sonia Sorbi”

Here’s How to Understand HVAC Air Filter Ratings

Here's How to Understand HVAC Air Filter RatingsChoosing the right filter for your HVAC system can be a time-consuming and confusing task if you’re not well versed in industry acronyms and filter ratings. This brief primer can help clarify what they mean, so you can select the best HVAC air filter for your needs.

MERV — The Key to HVAC Filter Efficiency

HVAC air filters are rated using the minimum efficiency reporting value or MERV scale. This numerical rating goes from 1 to 20, and it measures a filter’s ability to capture particles in a certain size range. The higher the number, the better a filter performs.

HEPA — What Does it Mean?

Another frequently-heard air filter term is HEPA, which is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate arrestance. These filters top the MERV scale with ratings from 17–20. They’re capable of capturing as much as 99.97 percent of undesirable particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, they’re not used in residential HVAC systems because they also severely restrict airflow.

How to Choose the Right Filter

If you’re unsure about which filter to use, it’s best to follow your manufacturer’s guidelines on the MERV rating range for your equipment, or ask your HVAC technician. As a general guide, here’s how different types of filters rate:

  • Flat fiberglass — These inexpensive filters have MERV ratings from 1–4. They’re best used to keep harmful particles out of the HVAC system. They can only trap about 80 percent of particles 10 microns and larger so they don’t really boost air quality.
  • Pleated — Considered “medium-density” because of their greater surface area, these filters go from MERV 5–13. The higher-rated versions are better at improving air quality because they can trap up to 95 percent of particles down to 3.0 microns in size.
  • Higher-efficiency — These fiberglass filters range from MERV 14–16, but if you want to use one, you’ll need to discuss modifying your HVAC system with a knowledgeable contractor because they can hinder vital airflow and cause significant equipment damage.

For expert advice about which HVAC air filter is ideal for the system in your Portland-area home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Should Air Filters be Changed More Frequently During Summer?

Should Air Filters be Changed More Frequently During Summer? | RothEven though Portland’s summers are relatively mild, your air filter has a lot to deal with during the cooling season. Taking care of your filter correctly protects your comfort and your health.

How Summer Affects Your Air Filter

While it’s a good idea to inspect your filter once a month, during milder weather, you may not always need to change it monthly. During the cooling season, when you’re using your A/C almost daily, lower-efficiency filters should be changed every month. There are a few reasons for this.

Higher cooling demand — As your air conditioner runs, it pulls room air through the filter and the filter picks up debris from the air. If you’re running your A/C for hours a day most days, it will fill up quickly.

More air contaminants — Naturally higher summertime humidity encourages the growth of mold and bacteria, which worsens your indoor air quality. Plants that bloom in summer add pollen to your air. All this means more contaminants to clog up your filter.

Higher humidity — Humid indoor air provides ideal growing conditions for the mold spores and bacteria on your filter. Leave the filter in too long and it could develop mold that releases more spores into your air.

Know When to Change Your Air Filter

In summer, 1-inch fiberglass filters should be changed every month. Higher-efficiency filters, which have larger particle-trapping surfaces, can last up to 3 months. They also improve your indoor air quality, unlike lower-efficiency filters. Your air quality affects exactly how long they last. If you smoke, have pets or live near a major road or other source of pollution, the filter will become dirty faster.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to change the filter. To be on the safe side, once a month, remove the filter and hold it up to a light source. If you can’t see light through the filter, it’s time to put in a clean one.

For more guidance on keeping your air quality high, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air Filter

Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air FilterWith warmer weather on the way, this is a good time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the cooling season. One of the most important tasks to perform during this time is changing your air filter. This helps ensure that your system can run efficiently, and it also improves the air quality in your Portland home by removing filters covered in dust and debris. If you have trouble remembering to change your filter, keep the following tips in mind.

Label the Filters

Write the date that each filter should be changed on the cardboard edge with a permanent marker. When you’re not sure how long it’s been since you last changed filters, just look on these labels to see when you need to replace your current filter.

Set Reminders

Create a reminder on your phone, tablet or computer to let you know that it’s time to change your air filter. How often you need to change it depends on the types of filters you use. For example, high-efficiency filters usually don’t need to be changed as often, but this can make you more likely to forget to perform this task. Having a reminder on one of your electronic devices helps ensure that you won’t forget to change filters.

Store Filters in a Noticeable Spot

Having air filters stored in an out-of-the-way spot means you’re more likely to forget about them. Keeping them out in the open, such as on a shelf in your laundry room, can help you remember to change them on schedule. Consider putting a sticky note with the date they need to be changed on them in order to remind yourself.

Make It Part of Seasonal Cleaning

Plan on changing your air filter while doing other seasonal cleaning tasks, such as washing windows in spring or cleaning the gutters in fall. Grouping these tasks together can be a helpful reminder.

If you need HVAC maintenance this spring, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable HVAC services for Portland homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air CleaningIf you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your Portland area home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?

How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?Air filters are not all equal. Generally speaking, most low-end fiberglass filters barely do an adequate job of keeping the largest airborne particulates out of your HVAC system. The particles that do get through not only end up as dirt inside your system, causing it to work inefficiently, but also recirculating in the supply air and lowering indoor air quality. Here’s why a better quality air filter might be good for your home.

MERV Ratings

Better quality air filters for residential HVAC systems are usually pleated and made of dense material to do a better job of capturing particles. Filters rated by the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) system usually fall within the following categories:

  • MERV 1-4: Filters capture only the largest particles.
  • MERV 5-7: Filters do a somewhat better job of trapping smaller particles, and may be adequate for most households.
  • MERV 8-12: Filters do an excellent job of capturing most particles found in a typical household, and also do not significantly slow down airflow.
  • MERV 13 and above: These filters are usually found in residences where an occupant has a health issue requiring filtration of even the smallest particles. Higher efficiency filters may be found in research, hospital or manufacturing settings. HVAC systems that use this level of filtration must be modified to allow for reduced airflow.

The key in selecting the right filter for your home is to balance keeping the smaller particles out of your system’s machinery and out of your home’s air, while maintaining correct air flow. A filter that is too dense will cause a condition called pressure drop, and your equipment will work inefficiently. Pressure drop can also lead to system breakdown.

Electrostatic Filters

Besides the mechanical filtration types described above, you might also consider electrostatic filters, which catch particles with an electrical charge. These filters are washable and reusable, so they generally cost more than mid-level efficiency mechanical filters.

For more on the importance of air filter quality, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. Our customers recognize us as the top heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, drain and appliance service in Portland.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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