When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the best thing that Belleville 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. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the proper performance of your HVAC system, as well as your home's air quality. Studies show 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 Belleville homeowners, but there are typically two hurdles to actually completing this job:

  1. Determining just how often to change 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 packaging. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you'll notice that some are engineered to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly equipment, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to listen to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and setting 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 hinges on several factors:

  • The type of air filter you are using
  • The overall air quality of your Belleville area home
  • Pets – Birds, cats, dogs, hamsters (do you have one?), etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • The level of air pollution and construction around the home

For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is actually a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you might need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a low population area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Vacation home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: Change every 60 days
  • Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

It's simple; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a great to receive discounts on service, tips and other helpful information directly to your email. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Belleville area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or a specific date of your choice.

How to replace your return air filter

Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some residences have another filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your unit is designed to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can reduce the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:

  1. Go to your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to pull off the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and note 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.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can really affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier dust will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may break down much faster than the standard.

 

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