When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Windsor area homeowner's can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Did you know 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 difficult for most Windsor homeowners, but there are typically two obstacles to actually accomplishing this task:

  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 printed "expiration" date on the wrapping. It may say "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Pay attention at the store and you'll see that some are engineered to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created 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 recommend our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to pricey equipment, like your compressor, so it's best to change it out more often than not. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also note that your filter manufacturer might have a different recommendation from your HVAC equipment manufacturer.

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

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

For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturers basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is actually 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 frequently than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a seldom occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, annual replacement of your air filter may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter in no time, just like a vacuum. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Got a cat or dog: Change every 60 days
  • Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts 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. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Windsor 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 us know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have another filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your HVAC is designed to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your home sweet home, 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. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:

  1. Find 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 inside, 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.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can really affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller dust will restrict 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 engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than normal.

 

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