When Should I Change My Furnace's Air Filter?

February 26, 2015

Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Fort Worth area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled PLUS Maintenance 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 ideal operation of your HVAC system, plus your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is among 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 a tough thing to do for most Fort Worth homeowners, but there are often two hurdles to actually completing this job:

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

When To Change Your Air Filters

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". Look around at the store and you'll see that some are engineered to only last a 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 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our readers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly parts, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking 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 may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

Deciding 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 Fort Worth area home
  • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  • Number of occupants in the house
  • General air pollution in the Fort Worth area or construction taking place nearby

For the common 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically tell you to change them every 30-60 days, which is really a great rule of thumb. However, generalities may not be suitable for your specific needs. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a less 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 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. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.

In summary:

  • Vacation home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
  • Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
  • House with a pet: Change every 60 days
  • Several pets 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. But wait… there’s more, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Fort Worth 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 which HVAC system you have. Your unit 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 reduce the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:

  1. Go to your return air vents.
  2. Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to remove from the wall.
  3. Look 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.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can greatly affect your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer debris will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than normal.

 

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