When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the number one thing that Shreveport area homeowner's can do to secure 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. Buying new furnace and return air filters is crucial to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Research suggests 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 Shreveport homeowners, but there are usually two hurdles to actually accomplishing this task:

  1. Understanding just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
  2. Changing them when you’re suppose to.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a recommended guideline on the box or plastic. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Pay attention at the store and you should see that some are meant to only last a single 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 readers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly 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 scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding 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 unit manufacturer.

Determining how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:

  • The type of air filter you are using
  • The entire air quality of your Shreveport area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • General air pollution in the Shreveport area or construction taking place nearby

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren't always for everybody. If you suffer from 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 remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, 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 in no time, just like a vacuum. Obviously, 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:

  • Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: Change every 60 days
  • Multiple 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. Plus, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Shreveport 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 an additional 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 set amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can shorten the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:

  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. Look 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.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can dramatically impact your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A top tier 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 need to verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may wear out much faster than otherwise.

 

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