When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that Atlanta area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, plus your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is in the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most Atlanta homeowners, but there are often two obstacles to actually completing this job:

  1. Determining just how often to replace 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 packaging. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you should see that some are engineered to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our friends and family to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to expensive parts, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking 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 may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

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

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

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturers basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is really a great rule of thumb. Still, general rules aren't always for everybody. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded 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 infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with little auto traffic, 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. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but tremendously 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
  • Common 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

It's simple; 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 Atlanta 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 you know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some residences have an extra filter in the return ducts. 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 home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can reduce the life expectancy of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering 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 take off the wall.
  3. Inspect for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and record 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 greatly affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier particles will reduce 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 reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may wear out much faster than otherwise.

 

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