When Should I Change My Air Conditioner’s Air Filter at Home?
Sometimes we’re asked what is the best thing that Philadelphia area homeowner’s can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, not to mention your home’s air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is in 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 difficult for most Philadelphia homeowners, but there are typically two hurdles to actually accomplishing this task:
- Knowing just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a recommended guideline on the wrapping. It may read “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Pay attention at the store and you’ll see that some are designed to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created 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 tell our readers to go by. If they’re dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly equipment, like your compressor, so it’s recommended to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest marking 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 system manufacturer.
Figuring out how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The collective air quality of your Philadelphia area home
- Pets – Birds, cats, dogs, hamsters (do you have one?), etc.
- Number of occupants in the house
- How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home
For the common 1″-3″ air filters, the OEM specs basically suggest to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you might need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a remote area, own a seldom 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 in no time, just like a vacuum. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.
- Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- House with a pet: Change every 60 days
- Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filters
Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning offers a simple solution; 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. Plus, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Philadelphia area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.
How to replace your return air filter
Most people know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some residences have an additional filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit’s manufacturer recommends. Your system is made 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 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:
- Find your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to pull off the wall.
- Check for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and record the size.
- Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
- If the filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer’s recommended filter of the same size and type.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can really alter your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer particles will restrict 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 die off much faster than the standard.
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