Homeowner’s Manual: Ducts and Vents (Updated for 2021!)
Return Air Filters
The single most important thing a homeowner can do to keep the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system operating at peak efficiency is to keep the return air filters clean and properly secured in place. The filters should fit snugly. If they lift when the blower comes on, unfiltered air is bypassing the filter. The heating and air conditioning filter should be changed on a regular basis. For best results, we suggest installing a new filter every 30 days. A good overall filter is a pleated polyester type. If you have allergies try an electrostatic filter. These require no external power source and can be purchased in various sizes. In a perfect world, the electrostatic filter would be cleaned monthly. Also, be careful not to block the return air grill with furniture or other obstructions.
Significant amounts of conditioned air can be lost to the attic through leaky ducts. Inspect ductwork for leaks at connections and joints, proper support, tight bends and general condition. During the 1980s a flexible duct with a gray plastic covering was used extensively. This gray plastic covering deteriorates in attics. Damaged ductwork should be replaced as necessary. If there are rooms in your home that are not being used, we suggest that you shut down the airflow to those rooms, this can be done by closing the register or vent located in the ceiling, floor or wall of each room. This serves two functions: heating or cooling is not wasted in an unoccupied room, and you increase the airflow to the rest of your home.
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