When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Provo area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their regular PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, as well as 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 all that hard for most Provo homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually completing this job:

  1. Knowing just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Replacing them at the proper time.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a printed "expiration" date on the wrapping. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you'll notice that some are meant to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our friends and family to go by. If they're dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to expensive equipment, like your compressor, so it's best to change it out more often than to let it go. 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 programming 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.

Figuring out 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 Provo area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of people in the home
  • General air pollution in the Provo area or construction taking place nearby

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturers basically say to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. But general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to tolerate 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, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but extremely 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 Air Filters

Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning offers a simple solution; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a convenient way to get money-saving discounts and other helpful information on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. But wait… there’s more, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Provo 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 people know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some residences have another filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system is designed to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can reduce the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning 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 pull off the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is in place, pull it out and note 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 greatly impact 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 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 made to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may die off much faster than otherwise.

 

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