We’ll start with the drama. It’s a hot, muggy July afternoon when VPM receives the call/email from a very concerned tenant. “We just got home to find the family room floor covered with water. It seems to be coming from the area of the furnace room.”  (Would you believe that the culprit turned out to be a dirty furnace filter?)

The explanation. Most modern homes are heated & cooled by what are called “forced air” systems. That means that hot/cold air is produced and then blown throughout the house venting system by way of an air handler unit (what people usually refer to as the “furnace”).

The boring part. To make this system work, there needs to be a way for this “used” air to return to the air handler to be once again heated or cooled and re-circulated. This happens by way of one or more large air return vents usually located on each floor of the home.

Yucky”. On it’s way back to the air handler, this “return” air has picked up all kinds of yucky stuff like household dust, pollen, particles of human skin & hair, pet fur/dander, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice if most of this “stuff” could be removed from the air before it returns to the air handler to be heated (or cooled), and again blown throughout the home.   

The good news. A simple furnace filter, when changed on a regular basis, will trap a great majority of this unwanted crud before it can once again be circulated throughout the home. The benefits are a much cleaner interior environment. One way that you will notice the difference is there will be considerably less dust in the usual places, such as table tops, etc.

Some more good news. Modern air conditioning systems make us feel good in two ways. The obvious one is that it makes the inside air cooler on hot days. The second “feel good” comes from the fact that almost all of the humidity (condensation/water) is removed from this cool air so we don’t have to endure that “sweaty” Maryland Summer outside air.

So what’s the bad news. Because today’s modern furnace filters do such a good job at trapping the bad stuff that we would prefer to not be breathing, the filter can only be effective for a short period (60 to 90 days) before it becomes filled with all the bad stuff that it was designed to remove from the air.

The results of this “clogged” filter will usually start to show up in several ways. The build up of dust, dirt, cobwebs, etc throughout the home, especially around the large air return vents. In some cases the heating/cooling utility bill will increase, as the air handler will be working harder due to the clogged air filter.

But here’s the really bad news. Remember that humidity (condensation) that the system has been removing from the house all Summer? That water is caught in a metal catch pan in the bottom of the air handler, where it flows into a drain line, which in most cases empties outside the dwelling.

The old furnace filter, which is usually installed in front of, or right above the condensation catch pan, can no longer hold all of the accumulated “crud”, so the crud starts falling down into the condensation pan. The result is a soupy mixture (that’s a polite term) which almost always stops up the condensate drain line. And that’s when VPM receives the call about the flooded family room.

This can have a happy ending. Replacement furnace filters are cheap and very easy to change. Some are even “washable” (I personally will take “replaceable” over “washable” any day). Change the filter on a regular basis (At least every 90 days) and reap the benefits: A cleaner, dust free home. More comfortable indoor environment. Lower utility bills. No flooded rooms. And avoiding the expenses which you could incur for the “clean up, carpet replacement, etc.



— Filter



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