One of the most important things you can do for your HVAC system on your own, is change out the air filter on a regular basis. Simply put, the reason for this is because a clogged air filter will cause a number of problems for your air conditioner (or heater). These problems can include:
- A severe drop in energy efficiency since the blower motor will strain against the obstructions in the filter.
- Potential damage to the interior of the HVAC system due to dust and dirt infiltration.
- A general decline in comfort throughout your home from insufficient airflow.
“But,” you may ask, “How often do I change the filter?” Read on, friend!
Changing Your Air Filter
First off, you should understand that there is a misleading belief out there—one that the internet has fed into. And that is the idea that the air filter only needs to be changed once a year, or at most twice a year. Nothing could be further from the truth, though! In some cases, an air filter may need to be changed as often as once a month.
What Factors Determine Filter Change Frequency?
There isn’t one single answer to the question of how often an HVAC filter should be changed. The frequency depends on a number of different variables, such as:
- How often your air conditioner (and heater) runs during cooling and heating seasons.
- The mount of dust, dander, dirt, and other debris circulating through the rooms.
- The type of filter that you are using.
We can speak pretty confidently about the 1st point in that between your HVAC systems, you’ll be running one or the other the majority of the year. #2 will vary home to home (for instance, if you have pets or if anyone smokes in your household). #3 is the one we can give you the most guidance about!
Panel Filters: Panel filters are inexpensive, and typically the most commonly used. They’re made of basic screens of fiberglass and you can purchase them in packs that cost about a dollar per filter. We recommend changing these out once a month.
Pleated Filters: These are a little more expensive, however they’re more effective filters than the panel time. They’re made from polyester and can usually last 3-4 months.
Media Filter: This is a more powerful type of pleated filter, and you might need to only change this filter twice a year. We recommend speaking to an experienced HVAC professional before deciding this on your own.
Permanent Filters: These aren’t changed, but you should be cleaning them monthly. And on that note when you do clean them, ensure they are completely dry before reinserting them in your HVAC system. This will eliminate the risk of mold and bacteria growth.
No matter what type of air filter you have in your HVAC system, you should be checking in on it every 4-6 weeks to see if it’s becoming clogged. A clogged air filter allows dirt and debris to settle on the interior components of the HVAC system, rendering it ineffective and inefficient. Ultimately, you could find yourself paying more in repair costs as a result.