Staying cool during our always-hot Sacramento summers is a team effort. On those August and July days when the high temperature soars above 100, we have to rely on a number of ways to beat the heat. We have our beautiful tree canopy to shade us, great ice cream shops for a cool treat (my personal favorite is Gunther’s), public pools for a refreshing dip, and, right inside our homes, we have mankind’s single greatest invention: central air.
Most homeowners I know use their Sacramento air conditioning all summer, and who can blame them? Our Mediterranean climate brings us cool and damp winters with hot and arid summers, during which we’re all but guaranteed dozens of sweltering days where there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. Now, your air conditioner is its own team with several contributing parts as members, from the condenser to the exterior unit to the refrigerant to the vents. There’s one component, however, that contributes more than the rest. In fact, I consider it to be the single most valuable player. I’m talking, of course, about HVAC filters, Sacramento’s summer MVP.
Filters, in my humble opinion, are the unsung heroes of the hot Sacramento summer, keeping our air conditioners free of debris while also making sure the air in our houses is both cool and clean. There are, however, a host of problems that can result from neglecting to change these filters, and it’s important that you, as a responsible homeowner, know and understand them.
Why You Must Change Your HVAC Filters During Sacramento’s Summer
We recently shared some tips to keep your AC in good shape with KCRA3 Sacramento, and it’s no coincidence that tip numero uno was to check on your air filter. When it comes to cooling in the Sacramento region, this is always where I start when I give homeowners advice.
A clogged air filter can prevent air from passing freely into and out of your air conditioner and when this happens the unit tries to work harder and harder to cool your house, leading to unnecessary wear and tear. If left unchecked long enough, clogged filters can overwork your AC so severely that the entire unit may even need to be replaced before its average lifespan is up.
Here are a few common problems that pop up when you neglect to replace your filter MVP:
- AC starts to smell like mildew: Part of the air conditioner’s job is to remove any and all moisture from the air in your home, and if that moisture isn’t subsequently drained properly, mildew grows. Having a dirty filter can lead to moisture getting trapped and mildew taking hold. Then, when the air passes through the filter, it brings the stench with it. Gross. If this happens, it’s time to have a professional take a good long look at the unit.
- Your electric bill rises: Your AC, of course, needs power; the quicker it cools your home, the lower your electric bill will be. When a filter hasn’t been changed in some time, it gets clogged. Cool air won’t be able to pass as quickly through it and the unit will run longer, burning way more power than necessary. When this happens, your power bill goes up. I’ve talked before about how Sacramento residents can increase HVAC efficiency to get lower bills from PG&E and SMUD, and regularly changing air filters is a great way to do this.
- Sacramento’s famous allergies get worse: The filter is also important because it keeps debris, dust, and other allergens from being blown into your home, making you and your family start to sniffle and sneeze. If you suddenly notice a sharp increase in sinus problems this summer, the lack of a clean filter could be to blame.
How to Find the Right HVAC Filters for Your Sacramento Home
Not all HVAC filters are created equal. There are different sizes and types for different air conditioners, but your main focus should be on ensuring you get a good MERV-rated filter. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a rating designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. Making sure you get the best MERV-rated HVAC filter for your Sacramento home is a bit complicated; I recommend enlisting the help of a trained HVAC professional to guide you.
Here are the top three considerations when choosing a filter to install in your HVAC system:
- #1 – Filter size: Older HVAC units aren’t designed for some of the newer, more effective filters. Your local HVAC professional may be able to work with a supplier that carries special varieties, though.
- #2 – Filter rating: Higher ratings aren’t always better. In fact, some higher ratings can reduce airflow which will overwork your unit almost as badly as when a filter gets clogged with dust and debris. We have a lot of dust here in Sacramento, it’s just part of being located in a dry area with a lot of growth, so you don’t want to put yet another challenge in your summer MVP’s way.
- #3 – Regularity of replacement: Now, we all know Sacramento isn’t as busy a place as L.A. or San Francisco—that’s part of the appeal. But, that’s not to say we all have infinite free time up here. Life gets busy, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to remember and take care of household tasks like HVAC filter replacement. Most professional service companies, however, offer replacement plans that send a tech out to do the job for you every so often, making sure you never forget.
So, yes, HVAC filters, Sacramento’s summer MVP, are a very important part of keeping your house cool throughout July, August, and September. Forget to replace them and you could be facing a number of problems, the worst of which is your AC shutting down and leaving you hot and sweaty.
Given how important the filter is to keeping your house cool, I highly recommend calling in a trained HVAC technician. You don’t want to take a risk, not with your MVP—and you certainly don’t want to spend time fussing with all this technical stuff when you could be laying in the shade under Sacramento’s many leafy trees, going for a dip in the pool, or waiting in line for a 50/50 freeze with orange and vanilla at Gunther’s.
Make sure your HVAC filter is clean and clear during the hot Sacramento summer. Contact the trained professionals at Bell Brothers today.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Dakota Corbin