When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that Grand Island area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is critical to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, plus your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not difficult for most Grand Island homeowners, but there are usually two hurdles to actually completing this job:

  1. Understanding just how often to replace 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". Check out the filters at the store and you'll notice 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 exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our readers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also note that your filter manufacturer might have a different recommendation from your HVAC unit manufacturer.

Deciding how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:

  • Type of filter your A/C system requires
  • The overall air quality of your Grand Island area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of people in the home
  • The level of air pollution and construction around the home

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is really a great rule of thumb. But generalities may not be suitable for your specific needs. If you have to endure light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a seldom occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, annual replacement of your air filter 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. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Vacation home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Average 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

It's simple; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a convenient way to get money-saving discounts and other helpful information on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. But wait… there’s more, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Grand Island 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 people know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have an additional filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your HVAC is made to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can shorten the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out 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 remove from the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is in place, 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.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can greatly affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier debris will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes increased pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may break down much faster than normal.

 

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