Air and Water Filters in your house benefit at least two aspects of your life; Health and Cleanliness. Every house is different, so it’s important that you find out what you’ve got. Filters can range from a complicated assembly to a simple screen. When changing a filter, record the date it was changed, and where possible write the date on the filter itself.
Where are they and what do they do?
- Electronic air filter
- A/C housing
- Water filters
- Range Hood
That’s what comes to mind for most people when you mention a filter in a house. One of the first things you should do when taking possession of a house is to change the furnace filter. Think about it – it’s got other people’s dust and dander on it. Start fresh. Write down the size and note which way it’s installed. With some filters it matters which direction the air is flowing, so don’t get it backwards. Check your furnace manual to be sure what you should have. Most large hardware/home stores carry the standard sizes. Replace it at the start of each heating season, at least. If you have central air conditioning, this filter will be catching stuff year round. Check it monthly and change it if it looks dirty.
Always clean the dryer filter after every load. This will help reduce the amount of lint going down the whole dryer duct inside your house. Having excess lint in your dryer trap can cause the dryer to work harder and even overheat. Go outside and feel the airflow coming out of the exhaust vent when the dryer is running. There should be a strong, hot flow of air once the dryer has been running a few minutes. Have the dryer ducting between the dryer and the exterior cleaned about once a year. If this duct becomes clogged, there are the possibilities of overheating and fire. Here’s a helpful link for more information
Electronic Air filter
Some furnaces come equipped with this filter, and there are various configurations. Find the manual and become familiar with it’s operation. You can pull out the filters and check them, make sure they are clean and in place. Hire a forced air heating specialist if you are unsure about how to operate / clean it and have them show you how it works.
This is not formally a filter, but its operation will affect your air quality, and it may have a screen or a sponge that can get clogged. Check the manual to see how it operates. Many older furnace mounted humidifiers have been neglected or abandoned. See if yours works; call a heating specialist to service it if you are not sure. Winters in Toronto can be pretty dry and it is best if you can keep the humidity level in your home between 35 – 50%.
Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)
Many new energy efficient homes come with HRV’s. These provide a source of fresh filtered air into the house and exhaust the stale air. Most route the air in and out of the furnace ducting. HRV’s have several filters including sponge sheets as well as the corrugated core. Vacuuming or washing with soap and water usually does the trick – follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. Sometimes instructions are labelled inside the unit too. These filters are very important for air quality in today’s newer, tighter houses.
Believe it or not, these are filters – bug filters! But they get dirty too, and sometimes torn. Check your window screens in the spring for tears or looseness. Wipe very gently with a damp sponge.
Air Conditioner or Heat Pump
Check the outside of the housing for buildup of debris, which can impact the efficiency of the unit. Grass clippings and dryer lint particularly can foul the grates. Be careful not to dent the heat exchanger fins, if exposed (more common on older units). These look alot like a car radiator, or the outside of a window A/C unit. Keep the area around the unit free of plants and materials, to help the air to flow freely for best efficiency.
Kitchen Range Hood
Check the screens under the fans – they will accumulate grease and dust over time, reducing their effectiveness. Clean the screen according to manufacturer’s recommendations. If the unit recirculates air through the hood back into the room, it will likely also have a carbon filter behind the screen. Replace these as needed.
Is your drinking water filtered under the sink? Do you have a water softener? Make sure these are maintained per manufacturers instructions. A clogged water filter can be worse than none.
Gas furnaces may have a condensate filter on the condensate drain line to keep the acidic water discharge from polluting the city waste water. Check your furnace manual and look around the outside of the furnace to trace the drain line.
Now take a few minutes to walk around your house and look for these items. My home inspection service will guide you through the specifics of your house and I will even find operating manufacturers manuals for you if you need them. This is what I do to help owners improve the comfort, safety and value of their homes.