When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the most important thing that Wheeling area homeowner's can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is critical to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks? It’s not thought of often, but it is extremely important to consider. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most Wheeling homeowners, but there are usually two challenges to actually completing this job:

  1. Knowing just how often to swap out your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Replacing them at the proper time.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a recommended guideline on the box or plastic. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Check out the filters at the store and you should see that some are meant to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters meant to be changed once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our customers to go by. If they're dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to pricey parts, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than not. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also note that your filter manufacturer sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC equipment manufacturer.

Determining how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:

  • Type of filter your A/C system requires
  • The collective air quality of your Wheeling area home
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  • Number of people in the home
  • General air pollution in the Wheeling area or construction taking place nearby

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren't always for everybody. If you have to endure light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a less populated area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with little auto traffic, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but exceptionally dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Got a cat or dog: Change every 60 days
  • Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

Comfort Masters Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning offers a simple solution; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. When you do, you can elect to receive (or not) great email coupons and newsletters with a lot of tips and discounts on AC repairs and tune-ups. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Wheeling area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.

How to replace your return air filter

Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have another filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can reduce the life expectancy of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:

  1. Go to your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to remove from the wall.
  3. Look for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and record the size.
  4. Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
  5. If filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer's recommended filter of the same size and type.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can really impact your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier particles will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than otherwise.

 

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