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A furnace filter's main job is to keep dirt and debris out of your furnace, where it can damage moving parts and shorten the lifespan of the unit. Their second function is to filter the air circulating throughout your home to reduce dust and allergens that can be harmful to your health.

What's the best kind of furnace filter?

There are many filter designs available. Basic filters remove larger, heaver particles from the air but allow smaller dirt particles to pass through. Large particles include lint, pollen, and mold spores. Medium particles include dust and animal dander. The smallest particles include smoke and smog that can be under 0.3 microns. By comparison, a human hair ranges from 3 to 200 microns.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers has devised a rating system for filters. They use numerical values ranging from 1 to 12, with the higher number capturing more of the dust.
lungs Furnace filters remove particles from the air that can affect the lungs.

Manufacturers often use uses the Filter Performance Rating (FPR), which is based on the ability of the filter to capture particles from 0.3 to 1.0 microns. These sub-micron particles are most likely to be inhaled, where they can cause problems in the lungs. This rates filters in a range from 300 to 1600.

Types Of Furnace Air Filters

  1. Fiberglass or cellulose pad - usually held in a cardboard frame capable of protecting the equipment; catches most of the larger dust particles which tend to block the heating and cooling coils; low cost but least effective in removing small particles.
  2. Washable/reusable filter - uses a flat plastic or metal foil pad; can be washed with a hose and reinstalled; some can be sprayed with a tacky coating material to increase their ability to catch small particles; should be washed monthly; may last 3 to 5 years.
  3. Pleated polyester filter - provides more filtering capacity than a flat filter; many are made with electrostatically charged fibers that attract small particles; lasts up to 3 months.
  4. Deep-pleated, high-efficiency air filter - about the same size as the ordinary filter but 4 to 6 inches thick; do not fit in standard filter holders and require a special box in the duct system; electrostatically charged fibers can be used in the filtering media.
  5. Electronic filter - about the same size as the box for a deep-pleated filter; requires electricity to operate; air is directed through a high-voltage grid which applies a positive charge on particles in the air stream; particles are attracted to a negatively charged element; should be washed monthly; removes small smoke particles; high initial cost and maintenance are disadvantages as is the cost of repair if the power unit fails.

How effective are furnace filters at cleaning the air?

The effectiveness of various filter types in removing sub-micron particles is:
  • Fiberglass up to 2%
  • Washable/reusable up to 6%
  • Thin pleated up to 11%
  • Deep pleated up to 25%
  • Pleated electrostatic up to 49%
  • Electronic up to 94%
House pets are one factor that affects the lifespan of a furnace filter. Air filters capture many of the allergens that aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms. Pollen, molds, and dust are common in any household and can be reduced by using a furnace filter. The filter will also keep your heating or air conditioning system coils cleaner, which can save up to 15 percent on your energy bills.
Roanoke Electrical Upgrades
If you're planning on remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, or adding a new addition to your home it's important to have an electrician check your existing service to ensure it's ready to handle any additional demands for power.
Here are a few points to consider:

1. Is your electrical service up to date? Many older homes still operate with outdated 60-amp electrical service, and sometimes with just a few fuses or circuit breakers to protect the entire system. Newer homes often have 100-amp service panels, but even this minimum requirement set by many current codes may fall short of your present or future needs. Consider upgrading service to 200 amps.

Other potential problems to look out for include older knob and tube wiring and aluminum wiring. Both are a safety hazard and should be upgraded to meet current electrical codes.

2. Is your service sized for extra demand? If you're installing a large electrical appliance, like an electric oven, a refrigerator or tankless water heater, each will require a 220v outlet. Dedicated circuits are usually the safest option for large appliances.

Many electricians will run 14-AWG wiring during renovations, which is adequate for most home uses. But heavier 12-AWG copper wire is a better choice because it's more energy-efficient and you won't have to upgrade all over again if you install appliances or fixtures with greater electrical loads. The cost difference for upgrading to 12-AWG copper wire is minimal. If you're adding a room extension or building a new home, it's a good idea to install 12-AWG wire (or larger, depending on the needs of each circuit).

3. Consider special electrical needs. Different rooms in a home serve different purposes—an important consideration when you're planning improvements, especially where electrical work is involved. Family rooms, home offices and home theaters generally need more circuits, more outlets. Upgrading to whole home power-surge protection can prevent damage to sensitive electronics. Outlets in kitchens, baths, garages and outdoor areas require ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. Have small children in the home? Tamper resistant outlets are s must have upgrade.

Before starting your nest home remodeling project, give Ostrom a call we can help ensure your project goes smoothly. From electrical upgrades to plumbing, hot water, heating and air conditioning – we're Roanoke's top choice for home remodeling upgrades.
Newer central air conditioners will offer years of trouble-free service. Some will run so quietly that you may not notice them at all. Often, an AC system will provide some clues that there is a potential problem that could lead to repairs down the road. By paying attention to the symptoms of a malfunction and fixing the small problems right away, you can avoid an unexpected breakdown and costly repairs in the future.

4 Air Conditioner Warning Signs

1. The AC is Making Strange Noises

A central air conditioner will normally make some noise while its operating. If you hear unusual sounds like knocking, pinging, rattling or screeching, don't ignore them. It may indicate that there are loose or worn parts that are about to fail.

2. Your Utility Bill Is Unexpectedly High

Air conditioners generally become less efficient as they get older, making annual maintenance all the more important. As the system runs more to keep the temperature the same, your utility bill will also increase. If you see a sudden spike in energy usage that seems higher than usual, have the unit inspected to ensure there are no problems. Usually the cost of fixing the small problems will pay for itself with lower utility bills.

3. All Or Some Areas of the Home Are Not Comfortable, Even When You Lower the Thermostat

If the AC is not able to keep up with demand, or the air from the register feels warmer than it should, the unit may be low on refrigerant, or have a blocked, frozen or leaking evaporation coils.

4. The Air Is Cold, But The House Is Too Humid

Humid air can be a sign of leaking air ducts, an AC unit that is not properly sized for the home, a frozen condenser coil or another problem. Your HVAC technician can diagnose the cause and recommend solutions.

If you're experiencing any of the above problems with your central air conditioner, give Ostrom a call. We can help diagnose the cause and recommend solutions to fix the problem.
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