I noticed a high dust accumulation in a short time in our apartment (1st winter here, old building). I decided to clean the intakes and change the air filter. I discovered that the old filter, placed by apartment maintance was 25% smaller than the cold air return hole. Furthermore, there is no air filter holding frame or strap or metal clips to hold it place. Basically they had leaned this filter onto the front of the fan.
Logic tells me this is not a correct setup: the filter was not dirty because the air goes right around it. The interior to the unit has a 3 mm layer of dust inside, the intake vent has ~12 mm layer of dust/debris inside it. Even more alarming, when I removed the intake vent from the wall I found that there is a 1 foot hole in the drywall behind it full of the dust/debris stuff.
So far, I have vacuumed out the intake vents in the apartment, and used AC metal duct tape to attach a correctly sized filter over the cold air return (hoping it will stay affixed until I change it).
1. Is there a better way for me to use a filter? Note: I cannot cut sheet metal or modify the existing ductwork.
2. Should I be worried about air quality given the state of the intake vent, the accumulation of dust behind the drywall, and the hole in the drywall? Could it be blowing insulation particles, asbestos, lead, etc into our apartment? (I checked on a neighbor's unit and found the same setup, with 1 difference, they had no filter)
3. Should I have the ducts professionally cleaned?
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