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Dirty Filters In Your HVAC SystemWhen you break down your HVAC system into it's most basic blocks it contains three interdependent systems and if one of them fails the system will either not work or work very inefficiently. So, lets take a look at these three systems of your central heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Please note, this does not apply to mini-split HVAC systems and we will cover that at another time.
The condensing unit is the outdoor unit. This piece of equipment holds the compressor and the refrigerant. This appliance’s main function is to exchange heat. In most modern HVAC systems we have heat pumps which can be used to both heat and cool your home and is controlled by which direction the refrigerant flows. This is a very simplistic view of this sophisticated piece of equipment, but you get the basic idea.
Air Handler / Furnace
The air handler moves the air in your central air conditioning system. Not only that, it also provides the primary heat or supplemental heat to your whole house in the instance of heat pumps. This heat can be provided by gas or can be provided by electric resistant elements (think about how your oven works). You will know this appliance because it contains the blower fan that helps move the air through your system and you can’t miss it when it is on.
The distribution system is what connects the air handler to the air return and the air registers in your home. This consists of all the duct work in your home and any filters in place to help filter contaminates out of the air. These filters can be very coarse and filter very little or they can be extremely fine and have the capacity to filter pollen and mold spores. Modern HVAC systems have insulated duct work and can either be solid/ridged or flex ducts.
Focus On The Distribution System
When an HVAC system is not functioning properly most people usually make the immediate jump to feeling like there air handler or outdoor condensing unit is not working and this may not always be the case. Sometimes, it is the distribution system! If your ducts are not designed appropriately to handle the amount of air flow and the lengths of the ducts then your HVAC system could suffer. Likewise, if your air filters are filthy and only let through a fraction of the air they are suppose to, your systems performance will suffer greatly. This causes your air handler to have work extra hard to pull air through the filter to supply the rest of your home. It is estimated that this additional effort could cost you $20-$30/month. That adds up quick! Not only that, it could prematurely cause the motor on your fan to burn up which could cost $100’s if not $1000’s depending on your system.
Look at another way… What if you had to walk around all day sucking air through a small straw instead of clear, unobstructed airways? You most likely would not make it through the day and the extra effort spent trying to suck that air would certainly wear you out.
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