What Maintenance Do You Need to Keep Your Indoor Air Clean?
Air Quality Canada
May 19, 2020
3 min read
One day you buy a house. You love your house. It's everything you imagined and more.
You can paint it any color you want. You can have pets, many pets. You have a yard you can arrange and rooms to decorate and it's amazing.
And then you start reading all these stories about dirty vents, and air filters, and dryer ducts that can cause fires if not cleaned. And you think, what? Is that another thing I need to worry about with home ownership? And as you research, you realize, yes, yes it is.
But don't worry too much because it's something that is relatively easy to manage.
Can you clean the ducts in your home?
Not really. The reason is the duct system runs throughout your house and unless you have extending hoses on your vacuum, with extra strong suction, you probably won't do an adequate job.
What you can do is make sure you clean the lint filter after every load on your dryer, hire a professional to clean the ducts yearly, and change the air filters in your furnace. You can also wash your outside air conditioning unit but many professionals recommend a yearly service to make sure it is done correctly and completely.
How do you change the filters in your furnace?
This is super easy to do. Most have 2 filters, one that is on the front and another a bit further back in the unit. If you can't figure it out and don't have the manual, look online. Usually you can slip the filters in and out but sometimes there are spring hooks to help hold the one further back in place. You can purchase the filters at any big box or home store. As a handy tip, write the size of the filters on the outside of your furnace (if you don't keep track of it in your phone) with a sharpie, and then when you're running out to get new ones, you don't need to pull the old one out to find the size.
How often do you need to change your filters?
This is based on individual circumstances. Manufacturers recommend that you do it at least every 3 months. If you or someone in your family has environmental allergies you may want to change them more frequently, or if you have lots of pets, live in a dusty environment or have construction going on in or around your house.
Are the more expensive filters better?
Some can be. When buying a filter you'll see a MERV rating which means "Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value." In order to pick the best filter for your needs, you need to know what is in your air (be sure to have it tested by a qualified company) and what sensitivities you or your family might have. For the average person, the middle cost option will work fine.