Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that the U.S. area homeowner’s can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled 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, plus your home’s air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is one of 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 the U.S. homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually completing this job:
Most filters have a printed “expiration” date on the box or plastic. It may read “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Check out the filters at the store and you’ll see that some are engineered to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters meant to be changed once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our readers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can exacerbate or cause damage to pricey components, like your compressor, so it’s best to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest scribbling 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 might have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Determining how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
For the common 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 endure light to moderate allergies, you might need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more frequently than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a low population area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but exceptionally dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.
Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing 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. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your the U.S. area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.
Most of us know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some homes have an additional filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can shorten the life expectancy of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:
Crazy as it may seem, filters can really affect your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend referring to the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier dust will obstruct 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 made to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than the standard.
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