When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that London area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal PLUS Maintenance 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. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is among 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 a tough thing to do for most London homeowners, but there are often two challenges to actually completing this job:

  1. Knowing 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 box or plastic. 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 designed 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 standard seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our customers to go by. If it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can exacerbate or cause damage to pricey parts, like your compressor, so it's best to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to 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. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC unit manufacturer.

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

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

For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is really a great rule of thumb. Still, generalities may not be suitable for your specific needs. If you have to tolerate 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 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 should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter in no time, just like a vacuum. Of course, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but tremendously 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
  • Add a dog or cat: Change every 60 days
  • Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

Roy Inch & Sons 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. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your London 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 us know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some homes have another filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit's manufacturer recommends. Your unit is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can reduce the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:

  1. Go to your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to take off the wall.
  3. Look for a filter. If one is inside, pull it out and write down 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.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can dramatically affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier particles will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than normal.

 

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