You have an HVAC system that’s worth thousands of dollars, but the problem is that you don’t know how to use it effectively. You may be relying on anecdotal information that sounds good in theory but isn’t useful in practice. However, if you don’t maintain your HVAC system correctly, you could be spending a ton of money on avoidable repairs.
Let’s take a look at the most popular HVAC myths and the facts you need to know to extend the lifespan of your HVAC system.
Myth #1: You Don’t Need to Change Your Air Filters
Fact: You need to change your air filters frequently.
Air filters may be inexpensive, but don’t discount them as unimportant. Air filters play a central role in your HVAC system. This is why you need to check and change your air filters regularly.
An air filter is a device made of paper, fiberglass, or cloth. Its purpose is to prevent harmful pollutants from entering into your return air grill and damaging your HVAC system.
Air filters need to be replaced every one to three months. How often you replace your air filter depends on several factors, such as:
How many people live in your home
How many furry people (a.k.a. pets) live in your home
Whether or not you (or someone else in your household) smokes
The location of your home (if you live in a busy area, you may have more outdoor pollutants than in a rural area)
If you suffer from seasonal allergies
If your home is part of a new subdivision with lots of construction going on (another cause of outdoor pollutants)
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that can affect how often you replace your system’s air filters. New air filters promote a healthy environment.
If you suffer from allergies or asthma, you definitely don’t want to breathe in common pollutants like dust, mold, pet dander, fungal spores, pollen and other allergens.. However, without a filter, all of these pollutants will get sucked into your air system and then be circulated through your entire home. Even if you’re not dealing with harmful allergies or respiratory conditions, dirty air filters may make you sick in the future.
Air filters also protect your HVAC system from premature failure. Dirty air can accelerate damage to your HVAC system. Air filters prevent large objects from getting sucked into your system. Not only could this damage your system, it could also pose a fire risk.
Incidentally, clogged air filters can cause your HVAC system to fail. That’s because the dirtier the air filter, the less air can travel through your system. This leads to higher electricity bills because the system has to work harder and longer. Your system can freeze up or overheat as a result.
Fortunately, switching out your air filter is simple with no tools required. All you need to do is open your return air grill and exchange the old air filter for the new one.
Myth #2: Where You Place Your Thermostat Doesn’t Matter
Fact: Placing your thermostat in the wrong location can cost you hundreds of dollars each year.
Your thermostat is a device that’s used to monitor and display the temperature inside of your living space. To heat or cool the space, you set the thermostat to your desired temperature. The thermostat switches the HVAC system on to reach that temperature and then turns off the system once it gets there.
The placement of your thermostat matters because it could give a false reading that doesn’t reflect the actual air temperature in your space. This is why you shouldn’t place your thermostat in the following locations:
Any exterior wall (exterior walls tend to feel warmer or cooler than the rest of your home, depending on the outdoor temperature)
Above air vents (your thermostat won’t get an accurate reading of the ambient temperature in the room, just the cool or hot burst from the vent)
By a window (just like with an external wall, windows tend to be warmer or cooler than the rest of your space)
By a door (doors open and close frequently which can cause fluctuations in temperature)
Too close to the floor or ceiling (the thermostat should be between 52 to 60 inches above the floor because floors tend to be cold and heat rises)
In direct sunlight (the warmth of sunlight can trick your thermostat)
In a hallway (the hallway is an area where you won’t spend a lot of your time—your thermostat should be in a space where you’ll spend the majority of your time)
In or near the kitchen (this area fluctuates between hot, when cooking, and cold)
By placing your thermostat in any of the above, you could be overworking your system. For example, if your thermostat reads that it’s hotter than it actually is, the air conditioning system will stay on for longer than it should in the summer and not long enough in the winter.
So where should you place your thermostat?
The best place for a thermostat is on an interior wall near the return air grill (i.e. the place where you change the air filters).
Myth #3: Your HVAC System Doesn’t Require Regular Maintenance
Fact: If you don’t do routine maintenance on your HVAC system, you may void your warranty.
While a quality HVAC system should last you between 15 to 25 years, don’t overlook the fine print. Your system will last with proper care and regular maintenance. Just like you have to get an oil change in your car, you have to maintain your HVAC system. Ideally, you should get an HVAC check up at least one a year.
You can also sign up for HVAC remote monitoring which is a service that observes your HVAC system 24/7 to detect problems early.
Here at Minnick’s, we can identify 80% of failures before you notice them. Plus, there’s no need to pay a diagnostic fee since we already know the problem. We can get to work right away, and save you hundreds of dollars each year in the process.
After you’ve invested thousands of dollars into your HVAC system, you definitely don’t want to shell out thousands more to repair a preventable problem. Scheduled maintenance can save you a ton of money.
Plus, you’ll save money on your utility bills when your HVAC system is running properly.
But money aside, there are other benefits to preventative HVAC maintenance.
Preventative maintenance reduces your exposure to carbon monoxide from your heating equipment. A cracked heat exchanger can leak carbon monoxide and put you at serious risk of poisoning.
Also, preventative maintenance extends the life of your HVAC system.
Preventative maintenance also reduces pop up surprises in your system. When you hire a service to regularly monitor and maintain your system, you are less likely to run into an unexpected problem.
Finally, HVAC manufacturers expect you to perform regular maintenance on your system. Failure to do so can invalidate your warranty.
Myth #4: High-End Allergy Filters are Better Than Regular Filters
Fact: Expensive filters can limit air flow and damage your HVAC system.
Not all air filters are created equal.
Basic air filters are designed to protect your system. They block objects from getting sucked into the system and damaging the parts.
But then there are other air filters, like allergy or HEPA filters, that are designed to protect you from the harmful particles and pollutants in your air.
These types of filters are more expensive than the basic kind, and have really slick marketing with big promises. They’re supposed to filter out dust mites, mold, pet dander, pollen, and all sorts of other yucky particles.
But, in reality, these filters won’t really solve those things—not any more than a basic filter.
In fact, fancy allergy filters tend to cause more problems than they solve. Because they have more material to “catch” the harmful particles, allergy air filters can limit air flow. This can add strain to your blower and may even cause your evaporator coil to freeze over. Additionally, your energy consumption will rise and so will your utility bill.
Adding insult to injury, these expensive filters need to be replaced more often.
It’s usually better to stick with a basic filter according to your manufacturer’s specifications and skip the fancy stuff.
Myth #5: The Most Expensive HVAC System is the Best System
Fact: Your HVAC system won’t be able to solve temperature differences within your house.
If your house is drafty, old, or has uneven insulation, your HVAC system will struggle to maintain your set temperature. In the short term, this can lead to higher utility bills. In the long run, this will overwork your system which can lead to premature failure.
You can’t solve this problem by buying the most expensive HVAC system. Instead, you’ll need to correct two things:
First, fix the air changes by properly insulating your home. This prevents air leaks which can cause uneven heating or cooling.
Second, fix your ductwork so that it’s properly sized for your HVAC system. This is a common problem unfortunately. But it can be fixed, and for much less than purchasing an entire, new HVAC system.