Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that the U.S. area homeowner’s can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled tune-ups? That’s an easy one; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, not to mention your home’s air quality. Research suggests 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 the U.S. homeowners, but there are usually two obstacles to actually getting it done:
Most filters have a printed “expiration” date on the packaging. It may say “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Pay attention at the store and you’ll notice 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 industry standard seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our friends, and family to go by. If it’s dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can exacerbate or cause damage to pricey parts, like your compressor, so it’s better to change it out more often than not. If you want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding 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 manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. 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 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 trapping pet hair and dander, but tremendously 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 a specific date of your choice.
Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their unit, but some houses have an additional filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your unit is engineered to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can decrease the life of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
Crazy as it may seem, filters can greatly impact your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with 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 more pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may break down much faster than otherwise.
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