Occassionally we’re asked what is the most important thing that Atlanta area homeowner’s can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? It’s a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the proper performance of your HVAC system, not to mention your home’s air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? We know it’s the last thing on your mind, but this is really important stuff. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most Atlanta homeowners, but there are often two hurdles to actually accomplishing this task:
Most filters have a timeline printed on the packaging. 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 created media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our friends, and family to go by. If they’re dirty, change them! 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 neglect it. 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. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Figuring out how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
For your typical 1″-3″ air filters, the OEM specs basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. However, 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 often 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, annual replacement of your air filter may be quite sufficient. Why do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by containing 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. 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 Atlanta area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.
Most people know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some houses have an extra filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system is designed to handle a certain amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can decrease the life expectancy of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
Amazing as it may seem, filters can dramatically affect your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer particles will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may break down much faster than normal.
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