When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the most important thing that Pierre area homeowner's can do to protect 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 in 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 Pierre homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually completing this job:

  1. Knowing just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Remembering to change air filters when needed.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a recommended guideline on the box or plastic. 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 designed to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters meant to be changed once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! 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 neglect it. If you want to follow 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. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer might have 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 Pierre area home
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  • Occupancy of the home
  • How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your 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. However, generalities may not be suitable for your specific needs. If you suffer from 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 low population area, own a less 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 in no time, just like a vacuum. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but tremendously 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
  • Typical 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. 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 Pierre 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 homes have an additional filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your unit is made to handle a certain amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can decrease the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:

  1. Find 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 in place, 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.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can greatly alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller particles will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes increased pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may break down much faster than normal.

 

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