When Should I Change My Air Conditioner's Air Filter at Home?

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 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. Did you know indoor air pollution is among 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 change 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 packaging. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Check out the filters at the store and you'll notice that some are meant to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to pricey components, like your compressor, so it's best 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 system manufacturer.

Determining how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:

  • Type of filter your A/C system requires
  • The collective air quality of your Haltom City area home
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  • Number of people in 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 tell you to change them every 30-60 days, 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 less populated area, own a infrequently 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 capturing 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
  • Got a cat or dog: Change every 60 days
  • Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner's Air Filters

Stark Services 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. 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 another filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit's manufacturer recommends. Your system is designed to handle a set amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can reduce 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. Look 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 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 tinier 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 system parts may die off much faster than otherwise.
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