Your home’s HVAC system works hard to keep you comfortable in a consistent indoor climate, no matter what the weather is outside. One of the few things you need to do for it is to change the air filter regularly. This helps the system run efficiently and lower your utility bills. Sadly, it’s such an easy task that many homeowners forget about it for months, resulting in maintenance headaches and more significant energy bills. Just how regularly should you change your HVAC filters? There’s no set answer, but guidelines can help determine how often and why you should do it.
How Often You Should Change Air Filters in Your Home?
You need to change your home’s air filters regularly. However, what that basis is varies dramatically based on several different factors. For instance, if you’re using economic fiberglass filters, you should probably change your filter every 30 days. The upside of these filters is that they are among the most affordable options, but the drawback is that you must replace them far more frequently.
If you use high-end pleated filters, you might get up to six months out of them. However, that would be based on average usage. Even pleated air filters should be replaced in 90-day intervals for maximum benefit. The longer a filter remains, the more allergens, dirt, and dust will get trapped. That’s the point of a filter, but accumulations will eventually clog the filter and lower the efficiency of the filter and your entire HVAC system.
You might need to change your filters even more frequently than the general recommendations based on filter materials. Ask yourself specific questions. Depending on the answers, you might need to replace your filters more often.
For starters, does your home have anyone with asthma or allergies? Your home’s indoor air quality is just as crucial as air quality when you go outside, but indoor air might be worse. Anyone with sensitivities to airborne particulates will be exposed to them nonstop inside. If your household has anyone like this, you should consider changing your filters every six weeks to maintain a high indoor air quality.
Second, are there any pets in your home? If you own a dog or cat, you’re already familiar with the seasonal changes in shedding and all the odors that might come with having a furry family member around. Change your air filters in two-month intervals, especially when winter transitions to spring or summer moves to fall.
Third, does your household include young kids? The youngest among your family are still growing and developing their lungs and immune systems. They need the best indoor air quality possible to stay comfortable and healthy. Change your air filters every two to three months to keep your home clean and pristine.
What Do AC Filters Do?
An AC filter is typically made using pleated cloth, paper, or spun fiberglass that’s held inside a frame. Many HVAC systems have this in the return air duct. However, if you have a furnace that shares ducts with an air conditioner, the air filter might be in front of your furnace, close to the bottom. In either case, the filter’s primary function is cleaning out the air through the HVAC system.
The filter material is created to capture and then hang onto various contaminants and particles that might enter your home. When the filter traps these particles, they don’t spread throughout the HVAC system. That protects your family’s health and helps keep your AC equipment in better condition.
Air filters are designed to gather dust, dirt, pollen, and allergens. However, they can also collect fibers, lint, hair, and animal fur to keep them from moving throughout your home. Very tiny wood particles, plaster, and metal are other physical materials that an effective air filter can keep from spreading. They can even prevent the spread of mold, mold spores, bacteria, and other various microorganisms.
An HVAC system without clean filters will start running less efficiently. That will drive up your energy bills every month. You’ll also face maintenance, repairs, and replacement costs throughout the system faster than you otherwise would.
How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Change the Filter?
All the air that your HVAC system circulates goes through your air filter at some point. This is just as true for cooling as it is for heating, and that’s why you need to always have clean air filters and change them out regularly. Even knowing the guidelines listed above, you must check your air filters every month to see if you need a clean one installed. Turn your system off momentarily, and then remove the air filter from its place in the air handler. Hold it up in front of a bright source of light. By looking at it, you should be able to see with your own eyes if it’s clogged or dirty. It might look fine in its system position, but if you can’t see any light coming through it when you hold it up, it’s time to replace it with a new one.
Other Factors That Impact Your Air Filter Lifespan
Air filters in your home’s HVAC system might last for longer or shorter periods of time based on other factors besides who lives in your home and what sensitivities they might have. For one, how much you run your system will impact the utility of your filter. If your local climate is relatively mild, and you only run your system for several hours a day, your filter might last an entire season or up to a whole year. Alternatively, constantly running the system will mean the filter needs to be changed more regularly. Your filter might last longer in the winter if you don’t use the heat much but not as long in the summer if the AC has to run more frequently.
The size of your home also comes into play. A smaller home, such as a single-story bungalow, won’t need as much air pumped for heating and cooling as a home with multiple floors and lots of bedrooms. Having said that, smaller homes might also have smaller HVAC systems to start with, so the filter might already be correspondingly smaller to start with.
Treat Your Home to a Professional Touch
You can probably change your AC filters on your own, and there are even things you can do to clean them. However, there are also benefits to letting professionals handle this. Your HVAC system might be more complicated than you think, and sometimes just finding the filter is a chore. If you want to skip looking for the filter or even figuring out what kind you need, turn to our team of professionals at Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating. We handle many heating and cooling needs for residential and commercial clients in Hanover and the surrounding areas, including duct services. Rely on our expertise to keep your home’s air clean and flowing freely.