Every once in a while we’re asked what is the most important thing that the U.S. area homeowner’s can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled tune-ups? The answer is simple this; 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, as well as your home’s air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is in the top five environmental health risks? It’s not thought of often, but it is extremely important to consider. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most the U.S. homeowners, but there are typically two obstacles to actually completing this job:
Most filters have a printed “expiration” date on the packaging. It may say “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Pay attention at the store and you should see that some are engineered to only last a single 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 three 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 expensive equipment, like your compressor, so it’s recommended to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest scribbling 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 sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Deciding how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
For your standard 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturers basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is really a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a less populated area, own a less occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, 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 fast. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.
Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; 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. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your the U.S. area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.
Most people know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have an additional filter in the return ducts. 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 harder the blower motor works, which can reduce the life 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:
Crazy as it may seem, filters can really alter your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller dust will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than normal.
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