When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the number one thing that Louisville area homeowner's can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the proper performance of your HVAC system, in addition to your home's air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is in 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 difficult for most Louisville homeowners, but there are usually two challenges to actually completing this job:

  1. Determining just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Changing them when you’re suppose to.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a timeline printed on the packaging. It may say "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Pay attention at the store and you should see 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 industry standard seems to be once every few 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 contribute or cause damage to costly parts, like your compressor, so it's best to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer might have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

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

  • Type of filter your A/C system requires
  • The entire air quality of your Louisville area home
  • Pets – Birds, cats, dogs, hamsters (do you have one?), etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • General air pollution in the Louisville area or construction taking place nearby

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturers basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. However, 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 remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, changing your air filter every 12-months may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: 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 Louisville 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 us know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some residences have an extra filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system 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 decrease the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:

  1. Locate your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to take off the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and write down 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 dramatically 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 obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may die off much faster than the standard.

 

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