When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the best thing that East Syracuse area homeowner's can do to maintain their air conditioning and heating system between their regular PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is among 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 all that hard for most East Syracuse homeowners, but there are typically two obstacles to actually accomplishing this task:

  1. Determining just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Remembering to change air filters when needed.

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". Pay attention at the store and you'll notice that some are meant to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be changed once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our friends and family to go by. If it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

Deciding how often to change your air filters hinges on several factors:

  • Which air filter your system requires
  • The overall air quality of your East Syracuse area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of people in the home
  • How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically suggest to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. Still, general rules aren't always for everybody. If you suffer from light to moderate allergies, you might need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with little auto traffic, changing your air filter every 12-months may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Of course, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Vacation home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: 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 East Syracuse 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 of us know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have another filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your HVAC is made to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can decrease the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:

  1. Locate your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to pull off the wall.
  3. Inspect for a filter. If one is in place, 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.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can really impact your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer particles will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you ought to 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 wear out much faster than normal.

 

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