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A Few of My Favorite Filter Photos


There’s really no end to the fun stuff you find when looking at furnace & air conditioner filters. Here are a few of my favorites for this Fall Friday.

Jeffrey Sauls, our HERS QAD here at Energy Vanguard, saw this one recently at an ENERGY STAR inspection. They get points for putting in a nice big media air cleaner. Unfortunately no one yet makes lifetime filters as far as I know. That condensate drain is blocking the filter draw just a wee bit, so changing the filter in this home will require dismantling the pipe and then reinstalling it after replacing the filter. Or do something different with the condensate line.

Manufacturers share some of the responsibility here, though. If they put the condensate drains on the side instead of (or in addition to) the front, this would be easier to avoid.


Here’s a similar one sent to me by HERS rater Bruce Kitchell here in the Atlanta area. Rather than being blocked by a condensate line, this one is blocked by a threaded rod that’s holding up the air handler in the attic.

Jamie Clark, a ground source heat pump guy in Kentucky, sent me this one. It doesn’t look bad, right? Except that little air will ever go through that filter on the right side the way it’s installed here.

The return plenum is the box beneath the air handler. The air gets pulled into the air handler through the bottom. The filter is installed on the side. If they left the right side of that filter housing open, it’ll depressurize the mechanical closet and pull in some air. But most of the air will come in from below. Unfiltered.


And here is the finale. Brad Brinke, a HERS rater in Virginia, sent this one to me. I guess their thinking here was that you just have to have a filter somewhere in the vicinity. The funny thing is that this filter looks dirty. Which makes me think they took a used filter from somewhere else and installed it here.


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Photo #1: I blame the
    Photo #1: I blame the architect. I bet if that mechanical closet (located in the garage no less) wasn’t so damn small the installer would’ve had some room to work.

    Is the curvature of the supply duct on the left side normal? I see them jammed in these closets all the time (especially newly constructed townhomes)like this.

    1. I agree, Kris. That’s one of
      I agree, Kris. That’s one of my big frustrations, too, especially since we design HVAC systems, and we usually don’t see the plans until it’s too late.

  2. Kris, I do agree with the
    Kris, I do agree with the architect issue here. That is one reason I have sooooo loved the “Design charrette” ideal of LEED and other programs. We should really decide what we are building/doing/using BEFORE we actually go and do it.
    However, I must say, stupid design should not lead to stupid installations.

    Allison, my true and real issue with the first photo is static pressure!! I love to walk down the Slowes isle or the orange box isle and look at all the great filters! The ones (as in the photo) that are going to utterly destroy the system/duct design, increase fan amperage, cost more to operate, provide less comfort, and contribute to killing my polar bears!

    1. Yo Keith,
      Yo Keith,

      While I believe we are in agreement on static pressure aspects of “high efficiency” filters, and I have subsequently gone back to “bird strainer” filters, we may not agree on fan amperage implications. Unless the fan motor is of the newer and relatively rare type that boosts fan power to maintain air flow, most extant fans will use less energy as they work against higher static pressure. The reason being of course, that a conventional fan motor uses less energy as it speeds up while moving less air. I use the “howling, blocked vacuum cleaner” as an example.

      And hey, don’t be so possessive of polar bears! We are all concerned about them 😄.

  3. Please do not be so quick to
    Please do not be so quick to use the word “Architect”. That word is specific to licensed professionals who are rarely involved in residential design. Most all of that work is done by home planners, or whatever other name they go by, and the Developers / Contractors.

    Architects are not immune from bad planning & there are plenty of good home designers, but let’s not use the “Architect” to mean anyone that draws plans. There is a difference in the levels of training, expertise, licensing, etc. Almost none of the residential projects you see are designed by Architects b/c very few homeowners are willing to pay the fees required to have an Architect design their home – or hire a Mechanical Engineer to design their hvac system, etc, etc – but that is another very big subject.

    I always love the photos – cannot get enough – you will never run out of subjects – keep them coming. Train wrecks are always more entertaining than uneventful trips. I learn a lot from these.

    I hope everyone is feeling good today.

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