When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the number one thing that Jackson area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, in addition to 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 Jackson homeowners, but there are often two hurdles to actually getting it done:

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

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'll notice that some are engineered to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our readers to go by. If they're dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can exacerbate or cause damage to expensive equipment, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking 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 can depend on several factors:

  • The type of air filter you are using
  • The overall air quality of your Jackson area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of people in the home
  • General air pollution in the Jackson area or construction taking place nearby

For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturers basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is actually a great rule of thumb. Still, general rules aren't always for everybody. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded 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 with few automobiles and trucks, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • House with a pet: Change every 60 days
  • More than one pet or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

Comfortech Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning offers a simple solution; 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. But wait… there’s more, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Jackson area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.

How to replace your return air filter

Most of us know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, 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 unit is designed to handle a set amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can shorten the life expectancy of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:

  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 record 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.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can really impact your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller dust will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes increased pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than normal.

 

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