It’s often difficult for building engineers to identify signs of energy waste within their HVAC system. A lack of time or expertise can prevent them from properly examining their units and finding opportunities to save. This article and video explain how engineers can tell if they are using the wrong size air filter or have the filter improperly installed—and how these factors can cause energy costs to soar. We’ll also discuss common workarounds and the value of having input from air filtration experts.
Joe W. Fly Co. CEO Joe Fly Jr. explains some of the warning signs that can indicate energy is being wasted in your HVAC system.
Common Issues With Filter Sizing, Installation, and Maintenance
The most common issue that causes energy waste is when filters are either the wrong size or not installed tightly. In either case, the issue will lead to air bypass in your HVAC system. Over time, unfiltered air in the system causes evaporator coils to become dirty—which reduces filter efficiency, leaves equipment unprotected, increase the risk of breakdown, and can lead to costly repairs. Other common problems include facilities using the wrong type of filters, not replacing filters that have gotten wet, moldy, or blown through, misplacing clips that hold filters in place, or not repairing broken access doors.
Recommendations: Identifying and Fixing Air Filter Issues
If you want to get a better idea of what issues are affecting your HVAC system, the first things you should examine are the sizing and installation of your air filters. Specifically:
- Make sure there are no gaps allowing air bypass between filters or at the end of filter tracks
- Check for “bowing” or other signs that filters are becoming worn out and need to be changed
- Dirty evaporator coils are a sure sign that some part of the filter system is not installed correctly
Air bypass between and around the filters. Bypass could be with the actual filters or with the holding frames/track that the filters go in. If there is a lot of dirt buildup in certain areas of the evaporator coil, that is usually a pretty good sign there is some bypass present
To ensure each filter is installed properly, you should make sure there is proper gasket with a positive seal and no bypass, and that clips are applied where needed to hold filters steady. If you or your staff are unsure of how to do this, having a NAFA Certified Technician take a look can help.
Once you’ve identified any issues in your system, it’s time to fix the problems. This could involve:
- Getting the correct number and size of filters
- Installing a custom filter if needed to fill the track tightly and completely
- Adding gaskets or clips to frames or filters where needed to prevent air bypass
How Much Can You Save?
The impact of air filtration issues on energy use is directly related to the heat transfer efficiency of the unit. If the equipment is dirty, partially blocked off from air flow, otherwise obstructed, then the compressor will have to work harder to keep the air properly conditioned—resulting in unnecessary energy use that adds to your facility’s operating costs. When you consider a large building with many units, the cost can be significant. Protecting evaporator coils with proper filtration will also decrease or eliminate the need to clean those coils, which is a significant labor savings year after year.
Ready to learn more about managing your HVAC costs? Contact the filtration experts at Joe W. Fly Co. today.