Why Does My HVAC Filter Get Dirty So Quickly? | Columbia HVAC
Written by Columbia HVAC

Why Does My HVAC Filter Get Dirty So Quickly?

Have you ever been surprised by an exceptional amount of dirt when cleaning your HVAC filter? We like to recommend replacing your filter once every 3 months. However, if you’re seeing a filter completely covered in dust, hair, dander, and dirt at the 3-month mark – you may need to take additional steps to make sure your filter isn’t getting too clogged too quickly.

Common Causes

A clogged air filter can hinder the efficiency and efficacy of your HVAC, causing it to work harder than it should. Why is your filter getting bogged down with dirt? These are some of the most common causes:

Fan Settings
Take a look at your thermostat. You will see two fan settings: “On” and “Auto”. When your fan is set to “On”, it’s running continuously – even when your furnace or air conditioner is not. This means that air is passing through your filter constantly and more particles are traveling and getting caught in the filter. This problem has an easy solution: simply switch the setting to “Auto.” You will likely extend the life of your filter and see a lot less dirt and dust.

Extreme Temperatures
During the winter and summer our furnaces and air conditioners respectively are working overtime. This means that even if your fan is set to “Auto,” your HVAC is likely running continuously. If you notice your filter getting clogged much faster during these months, simply replace it more often.

Excessive Dust
Not many people are fond of vacuuming and dusting, but these seemingly mundane chores can have a big impact on the air quality of your home and on your HVAC filter. Anything not vacuumed or cleaned up will pass through your HVAC filter and create clogs.

Pet Hair & Dander
Unfortunately, our beloved furry friends can wreak havoc on our HVAC filters. Being diligent about vacuuming and grooming can cut down on the amount of hair that winds up in the filter.

MERV Rating
Every filter has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. This number rates the overall effectiveness of the air filter. Filters are rated on a scale of 1-20 The higher the MERV rating, the finer the filtration. Choose a filter with a MERV rating based upon your own individual needs. If you or your family suffers from allergies, a MERV rating of at least 8 is your best bet. However, the higher MERV rating could cause your filter to become clogged more quickly.

Other Solutions

If you’ve run through our list of common causes and found that you’re still having problems with clogged filters, here are a few other things you can try:

Vacuum the Filter
Vacuum off the surface of the filter every few weeks. This isn’t a replacement for a brand new clean filter every 3 months, but it can help eliminated excess hair and dust in the meantime.

Add Air Purification
Supplement your HVAC system with an air purifier. There are many options on the market – either all-home or single room – to help keep the air in your home clean. An air purifier works to remove particles from the air before they can reach your HVAC filter.

Annual Tune-Up
Make sure that you schedule your annual tune-up with Columbia Heating and Cooling. In addition to regular maintenance, we’ll come and make sure there are no underlying problems that are causing your filter to become prematurely clogged. Give us a call today to schedule your next service!