When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Sometimes we’re asked what is the best thing that Kingston area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their regular PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, as well as your home's air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is in 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 difficult for most Kingston homeowners, but there are often two obstacles to actually getting it done:

  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 read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you'll notice that some are meant to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged 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 readers to go by. If it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to pricey components, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than not. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and setting a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also note that your filter manufacturer might have a different recommendation from your HVAC unit manufacturer.

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

  • Type of filter your A/C system requires
  • The overall air quality of your Kingston area home
  • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • The level of air pollution and construction around the home

For your typical 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically say to change them bi-monthly, which is really a great rule of thumb. However, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote 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 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. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but exceptionally dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • House with a pet: Change every 60 days
  • More than one pet or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Air Filters

Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a great to receive discounts on service, tips and other helpful information directly to your email. Plus, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Kingston 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 of us know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some homes have an extra filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your HVAC is engineered to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can shorten the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:

  1. Find your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to take off the wall.
  3. Check for a filter. If one is inside, 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.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can greatly alter 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 debris will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may break down much faster than the standard.

 

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