When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the number one thing that Naples area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? It's a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is crucial to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, in addition to your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is in the top five environmental health risks? We know it's the last thing on your mind, but this is really important stuff. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most Naples homeowners, but there are typically two obstacles to actually getting it done:

  1. Determining just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Changing them when you’re suppose to.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a recommended guideline on the wrapping. It may instruct "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you'll see that some are meant to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our readers to go by. If it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to costly parts, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than neglect it. 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 sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

Determining how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:

  • The type of air filter you are using
  • The collective air quality of your Naples area home
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home

For the common 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically say to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to endure light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded 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, 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 quick. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely 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
  • 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

Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a great to receive discounts on service, tips and other helpful information directly to your email. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Naples 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 unit, but some houses have another 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 home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can decrease the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:

  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. Inspect for a filter. If one is there, 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.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can really 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 tinier debris will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than normal.

 

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