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Knowing When to Replace the Air Filter in your Home

Changing your HVAC filter regularly is one of the most important household tasks to have on your calendar!

The bottom line is that a clean, fresh HVAC filter is essential for a clean, fresh house. It’s also important for maintaining a safe and efficient house.

Are you looking for when to replace air filter home advice? First, keep in mind that there’s no universal rule about how long an HVAC filter can last. Factors like filter type, home size and household habits can all impact the longevity of an HVAC filter.

Let’s cover how to know when your filter needs a fresh start!

Why It’s Important to Change Your HVAC Filter

There are several important reasons why changing your HVAC filter isn’t just a suggestion. First, you’re not doing yourself any favors by letting an old air filter linger.

HVAC System Inefficiency

When a filter is dirty, it actually reduces your HVAC system’s efficiency. That means that your system will work harder to produce less, ultimately less energy efficient. You may think you’re saving a few bucks by trying to squeeze more life out of a filter. However, the truth is that you’re losing even more money by letting heating and cooling costs rise.

In addition to paying more for heating and cooling, you’ll be less comfortable in your home. You’ll likely notice inconsistent temperatures throughout your home as your system struggles to churn out air. What’s more, it may take your system much longer to reach your desired temperature.

Health Risks from Dirty Air Filters

Not replacing a dirty filter can also put your health at risk by creating poor indoor air quality.

When your home’s air filter is clogged, it stops filtering properly. That means that dust, debris, allergens, pet dander and other things floating around in the air inside aren’t being filtered.

Damage to your HVAC Unit

Lastly, allowing a dirty air filter to linger can set you up for an HVAC catastrophe. Clogged filters will eventually cause damage to your HVAC system. What happens is that the restricted flow caused by the clogged, dirty filter keeps air from entering the air handler. This causes the fan motor to work overtime until it finally burns out.

While you may not know that your fan is on the verge of giving out, your entire system will actually overheat when that does happen. You may not be aware that a dirty filter has broken your HVAC system until the unit fails completely.

There are many other ways that a clogged air filter can create backups or overheating issues that cause multiple parts to malfunction. In addition to being dangerous, this can be a very costly problem because a total system failure may be too complex to repair.

When Should I Replace My HVAC Air Filter?

Dirty and Clean Residential Air Filters

If you’re seeking when to replace air filter home advice, there are some straightforward guidelines to follow. However, you may want to tweak your actual filter-changing schedule based on the specifics of your household. Yes, there are some factors that could make you want to change your filter more frequently for better indoor quality with maximized HVAC performance.

If you’re using the basic 1-inch to 3-inch fiberglass filters that most people use in their homes, you should change your filter every 30 days to 60 days. Here are some situations where you’ll want to change your filters at least every 30 days:

  • You Have Pets: While you should consider changing your filter every 30 days if you have one dog or cat, households with multiple pets should consider changing filters every 20 to 30 days.
  • Someone in Your Home Has Respiratory Issues: If someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, it’s important to stay on top of the chore of changing your HVAC filter. While a person without respiratory issues may not notice much of a difference when a filter is allowed to get a little clogged, someone who struggles in conditions with poor air quality can really suffer from a filter that’s allowed to stay in place for more than 30 days.
  • You Keep Your Windows Open: If you regularly open your windows to let in fresh air, you’ll actually need to change your HVAC filter more frequently. This may seem counterintuitive because we associate “fresh air” with “clean air.” However, that’s not how your filter sees it! The reality is that your filter has to work twice as hard to filter out both indoor air and outdoor air if you frequently leave windows open. That means that your filter is taking in things like pollen, air particles and pollutants from cars.
  • You Live in a Densely Populated Area: People who live in rural, unpopulated areas actually need to change their filters less frequently than people who live in densely populated areas. The reason is that “country” homes typically have better air quality surrounding them.
  • You Have a Large Home: HVAC systems in smaller homes have the advantage of needing to pump out less air to achieve a set temperature. By contrast, HVAC systems in larger homes need to pump out more air to reach the same temperature. Expect your filter to get dirty faster if you have more than 1,500 square feet.

The good news is that the filter model that’s required for your HVAC system is going to provide you with a recommended window for changing your filter. If you opt for a pricier “pleated” filter option, you may be able to extend a window of 30 to 60 days to 60 to 90 days if you don’t have several pets.

Getting Serious About Keeping Your HVAC Filter Clean

There’s something you can do right now to see how frequently you should be replacing the filter at your home. Simply start by making a plan to remove your filter every few weeks for an inspection. Signs like dust coverage or a musty odor are letting you know that it’s time for a new filter.

If you’re still uncertain about the perfect schedule for changing your filter, bring in an HVAC pro. They’ll help you to come up with a plan based on factors like household size, location and HVAC model.

The bottom line is that making a small investment of time to stay on top of filter freshness can help you to enjoy a cleaner, safer home with better indoor air quality! The small price of purchasing new filters is nothing compared to the lifetime savings of having an efficient HVAC system. Make your when to replace air filter home plan today!