When Should I Change My Air Conditioner’s Air Filter at Home?

Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Columbus area homeowner’s can do to protect 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. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, plus your home’s air quality. Studies show 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 Columbus homeowners, but there are usually two challenges to actually completing this job:

    1. Determining just how often to swap out your furnace or air conditioner filter.
    1. Remembering to change air filters when needed.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a timeline printed on the packaging. It may instruct “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Look around at the store and you’ll notice that some are engineered to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our readers to go by. If it’s dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it’s better to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and setting 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.

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

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

For your standard 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is really a great rule of thumb. Still, general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you suffer from light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more frequently than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a less populated area, own a seldom occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, replacing your air filters each year 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. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.

In summary:

    • Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
    • Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
    • Got a cat or dog: Change every 60 days
    • Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filters

Stevenson Service Experts offers a simple solution; 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. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Columbus 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 you know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have an extra filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit’s manufacturer recommends. Your unit is designed to handle a set amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the more 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 remove from the wall.
    • Inspect for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and note the size.
    • Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
    • If filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer’s recommended filter of the same size and type.

Crazy as it may seem, filters can really alter your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend referring to the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier dust will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes increased pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may break down much faster than otherwise.

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