“How often do I need to change my air filter?
This is the most common question we hear.
We also hear, “wait, there’s a FILTER in there?” Yes. There is a filter in your HVAC system…
We understand. We’ve all been guilty of neglecting our air filter from time to time. Between work, the kids, the pets, cleaning, cooking, hobbies, and nearly everything else that is constantly jockeying for your attention. Your system’s air filter isn’t really on your radar. It’s out of sight and out of mind, so it’s no surprise that:
- More than half (54 percent) of U.S. adults don’t know when to change their air filters.
- As many as a third (32 percent) think a filter should be changed monthly.
- Twenty-nine percent of Americans never change their air filter in their home.
- Only 18% of Americans change their filters according to manufacturer and EPA guidelines.
But what’s the right answer? Most resources you can read online say, “regularly”. Well what is the time frame on “regularly”? Regularly is subjective.
Before we chime in with our opinion, let’s explore how your air filter works and why changing your air filter “regularly” is a good idea. Especially if you’re part of the 1 in 5 people that say it’s not important at all to change their air filter.
How do filters work?
At a high level, when you change the temperature in your home, your heating and air conditioning system sucks in air from a room, pulls it over coils to heat or chill it, then blows the tempered air through ducts to the other rooms in your home. The air filter is stationed at the point where air is pulled into the system. It traps air-born particles that get sucked in with the air and keeps them from blocking the blower and clogging up the coils. Clogged coils (Read: Why Cleaning Your Condenser Coil Is Important) can’t heat or cool the air passing over them, and they will eventually damage your system. So, the air filter helps your heating and cooling system do its job, keeps it running efficiently and protects it so it will last longer.
Filters also help to keep dust from building up in your ducts, or being blown into other rooms of your house. In recent years, manufacturers have designed filters that use your heating and air system to remove microscopic particles like dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, plant and mold spores, and even smoke from the air in your home. (Read: The Top 3 Products For Indoor Air Quality)
What happens if you don’t change my air filter?
1. System Problems
If you are like most people, you aren’t thinking about your HVAC system until it stops working the way it should. Do you know one of the biggest sources of a system complication or failure? Clogged air filters.
When air filters are not consistently changed, they get clogged by the buildup of particles and contaminants that stick to the filter. These contaminants are all of the nasty mold spores, viruses, bacteria, dust, debris, and other particles you don’t want in your living space. While the filter is designed to accommodate these minuscule items, the buildup creates an almost impenetrable barrier so that the air cannot completely flow through, which can ultimately cause multiple problems for the entire HVAC system.
2. Higher Energy Bills
When your air filter is clogged and your air flow has been reduced, your system has to work harder to get the heat or conditioned air to where it’s needed. This increases your utility bills since your system is running longer in order to meet the demand you’ve commanded from it.
3. Poor Temperature Regulation
Since a clogged air filter restricts airflow, you’ll often notice that the system is running “as it normally does.” Since your system is straining, pay attention if any of your rooms are too cold during the winter or too hot during the summer.
4. Potential Health Problems
Remember those lovely particulates we mentioned in #1?
If the air filter is clogged and cannot trap contaminants as it did before, those things can end up back in the air that everyone in your home is breathing. Immediate issues could include headaches, itchy eyes or throat, and dizziness. If the air filters are not changed and the issues continue, the long-term effects could be respiratory diseases, etc.
5. System Failures
As the system is working harder to get around clogged air filters, it can cause the entire system to overwork and eventually break. If this happens, you’ll need to replace the entire system, which can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000. Air filters usually cost less than $40 (depending on the quality), so they are easy to replace frequently compared to a repair or replacing your furnace or replacing your air conditioner.
So what do I do and how often should I replace my air filter?
If you’re reading this, it’s probably time to change your air filter.
If you haven’t changed the air filters in your home lately, your next step should be to figure out which filters you need and replace them as soon as possible.
Depending on the type of air filter you are using, you will need to follow different schedules to ensure that the filter is always functioning for optimal performance. Most manufacturers recommend that basic filters are changed every 30 to 60 days, but there are other circumstances that could affect that schedule. Here are some general rules of thumb:
- A filter in a regular home with no pets should be changed every 90 days
- If your home has a single pet, the filter should be changed every 60 days
- For multiple pets, or if anyone in your home suffers from allergies, you’ll want to change the filter anywhere between 20 to 45 days
- People in single-occupant homes with no pets, or those who own vacation homes that don’t get much use, can usually wait for 6 to 12 months before changing their filter
Our Opinion: We highly recommend you check your air filter on a monthly basis and replace your air filter at least every 60 days. Will your system be okay if you replace it more frequently? Yes. Will your system be okay if you replace it a little after 60 days? Probably. But we wouldn’t wait too long to do it.
What should it look like?
If you find that the old filters look like nothing, not even air, could ever pass through them, it’s time to contact Spurk HVAC. We can visit your house to inspect your system and resolve any issues caused by the clogged filters, thus preventing further problems in the future.
About Spurk HVAC
Spurk HVAC was formed in 2018 and is located in Warrendale, Pennsylvania. We proudly serve Cranberry Twp., Wexford, Gibsonia, Mars, and the surrounding areas. We are an American Standard Customer Care Dealer and a Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor. We service all makes and models. Please contact us if you are seeking air conditioner repair, air conditioning maintenance, air conditioning replacement, heating repair, heating system replacement, or any other heating & cooling services. Whether you are looking for residential or commercial HVAC services, we look forward to any and all opportunities to become your preferred HVAC contractor.