Every now and again, we’re asked what the most critical thing we should do to guarantee that the air conditioning and heating systems operate efficiently between tune-ups. Remember to change the air filter in your heating and air conditioning system. The performance of your HVAC system, as well as the quality of the air in your house, depends on replacing furnace and return air filters.
According to research, one of the top five environmental health threats is indoor air pollution. You probably don’t think about it while you’re sitting in front of the TV, but this is the air you breathe every day and night. For most of us, changing the air filters is a simple task, but there are two obstacles to overcome:
- Determining how often your furnace or air conditioner filter should be replaced
- It’s important to remember to replace air filters as needed.
When Should You Replace Your Air Filters?
On the box or plastic of most filters is a printed “expiration” date. “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days” could be written on it. If you look at the filters in the store, you’ll notice that some are only meant to last a month, while others (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters that need be replaced every 6-12 months. For most higher-quality filters, the standard seems to be once every three months, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our customers to follow. Replace the filter if it is unclean.
A dirty air filter can add to or cause damage to expensive components, such as your compressor, therefore it’s best to replace it more frequently than not. If you wish to stay under the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we recommend putting the date on the filter when you replace it and setting a reminder in your phone or calendar. Keep in mind that the filter manufacturer may have a different suggestion than the manufacturer of your HVAC system.
Several factors influence how often you should clean your air filters:
- Which air filter does your system need?
- The overall air quality in your neighborhood
- Cats, dogs, birds, and other pets
- Household occupancy
- The amount of pollutants in the air and the building near the house
The makers recommend that you change your regular 1″-3″ air filters every 30-60 days, which is a decent rule of thumb. Even so, generic standards do not apply to everyone. If you have light to moderate allergies, you may need to improve your air filter or replace it more regularly than the manufacturer recommends. If you live in a rural area, own a rarely inhabited property (such as a vacation home), or live in an area with few cars and trucks, changing your air filter every 12 months may be sufficient.
Why are pets so important? They tend to shed, which can quickly clog your air filter. The air filter is clearly performing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, however extremely unclean filters might result in poor HVAC performance.
- Change every 6-12 months in a rarely occupied home or a single occupant home without pets or allergies.
- Change every 90 days in a typical suburban home without pets.
- If you have a cat or a dog, change it every 60 days.
- If you have multiple pets or suffer from allergies, change your bedding every 30-45 days.
Replace Your Return Air Filter This Way
Most people understand how to change their air filter, but some homes have a second filter in the return ducts. Whether or not you have one depends on the type of HVAC system you have. The more filters you have, the more the blower motor works, which can affect the life of your system if it wasn’t meant to handle it. It’s simple to determine whether you have a return filter and to replace it:
- Find the return air vents.
- There are screws on some coverings and tabs on others. To remove the tabs from the wall, unscrew or pull them.
- Look for a filter to use. If there is one inside, take it out and write down the dimensions.
- Make sure the filter is the one the manufacturer recommends.
- If the filter is dirty, replace it with one of the same size and type advised by the manufacturer.
Filters, as amazing as they may appear, can drastically affect the airflow in your home, which is why we recommend consulting the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter designed to capture finer dust will restrict airflow more than a less expensive filter. Because restricted airflow puts more pressure on your system, make sure your HVAC system was designed to handle it. Otherwise, your home’s heating and cooling performance may suffer, and HVAC equipment may wear out more faster than they would otherwise.