When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that Haltom City area homeowner's can do to maintain their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? It's a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, in addition to your home's air quality. Research suggests 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 a tough thing to do for most Haltom City homeowners, but there are often two hurdles to actually getting it done:

  1. Knowing just how often to swap out 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 wrapping. It may say "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Check out the filters at the store and you should see that some are meant to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged 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 suggest our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to expensive 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 setting a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC unit manufacturer.

Determining 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 Haltom City area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Occupancy of the home
  • General air pollution in the Haltom City area or construction taking place nearby

For the common 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically say to change them bi-monthly, which is actually 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 need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a less occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, 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 fast. Naturally, 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:

  • Vacation 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. Plus, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Haltom City area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.

How to replace your return air filter

Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some residences have an additional filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your system is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your home sweet 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. Discovering 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 take off the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is inside, 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 really affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer dust will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more 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 unit parts may die off much faster than normal.

 

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