Change your Air Filter from the Dirty Air Conditioner

How Often to Change Air Filter for Clean Air at Home

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Being a homeowner entails various obligations that are fulfilled on time to maintain your home in good condition. Replacing your HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system) is one of these responsibilities. How frequently do you change your air filter?

Air filters aren't meant to last forever. You'll need to keep track of when you installed your air filter, so you know when it's time to replace them. If you take too long to change your old filter, it may become overburdened and collapse, causing additional issues with your comfort and HVAC system.

Determining when to change your air filter might be difficult. Every home is unique, so each time the topic of air filters comes up, the answer will be different. In addition, the sort of filter you buy will influence how often you have to change your air filter.

For cheaper fiberglass filters, it's recommended that you change your filter every 30 days. For higher-end pleated fibers, it's recommended that you change them every 6 months. However, if you have allergies, asthma, or live with dogs, these suggestions may not be the best option. When you buy a new filter, it will say how long it should last on the package.

Nonetheless, the filter's expiry date should be the most recent date that you retain it in. You should replace your old filter sooner than the manufacturer recommends. Even if the answer varies from household to household, you must learn what works best for your family to keep your home filter in good working order.

What Happens if Your Air Filter isn’t Changed?

If you don't replace your air filter as often as you should, your home heating and cooling system may suffer long-term harm. The comfort of breathing clean air is the main reason for changing your air filter. It's critical to change your home filter often to avoid any health concerns that may be exacerbated by breathing unfiltered air. It also saves money on your energy bills by not having a blocked filter.

What Are the Benefits of Changing Your Air Filter?

1. Reduce the Repair Costs

Dirt, carpet fibers, dust and other impurities that may be found in your home collect in your air filter over time. Your HVAC unit may suffer as a result of this degeneration. Your air conditioning system will run more smoothly if you change your air filter. On the other hand, a filthy HVAC air filter might cause the HVAC system to work harder.

As time passes, the strain on your unit will need necessary repairs or, even worse, shorten its lifespan. Changing your dirty air filter assists in maintaining your air conditioner and reducing wear and tear. You can save money by changing your air filter regularly.

2. Electricity Savings

Changing your air filter might help you save money on your heating and cooling system bills, especially during the summer. When your HVAC filter is clogged, your HVAC system has to work harder to distribute fresh air around your home, which requires more electricity.

If you use more electricity, you'll have to pay more money for energy bills. Replacing your old filter will help you save money on your electricity bill. In addition, investing in a low-cost air filter and replacing it when it needs to be changed will save you a lot of money on repairs.

3. Improved Air Quality

The air inside your home might be two to five times more contaminated than the air outside. As a result, it can cause various symptoms that you may never associate with the overall operation of your air conditioner. For example, dirty air filters may be the cause of your headaches when you're stuck inside for a long time.

You have severe allergies when you're exposed to poor indoor air quality. You won't have to breathe in particles or other toxins if you have a clean air filter. It will lead to a healthier, higher-quality life in the long run.

Factors to Consider when Determining How Often to Change Air Filter

1. House Occupancy

The laws are different when your home is a vacation home where you only spend a short time each year. As a result, there is less human activity during certain times of the year. As a result, fewer toxins are trapped in your clean air filter.

The fewer impurities there are, the less frequently you need to change the air filter. To a large extent, you can extend the time between filter replacements. Change air filters every six months in holiday homes.

If you live alone without any pets, you can get away with changing your air filter less frequently. The time it takes to clog your air filter decreases as the number of people in the house decreases.

2. Allergies or Asthma

When you have allergies or asthma, you should change your home filter more frequently. Breathing problems make you more sensitive to airborne particles. Replace your air filter every six weeks to keep your indoor air quality at its best.

Allowing extra dander, dust, and other impurities to accumulate in your filter and enter your home can have an impact on your health. Clogged air filters can cause symptoms such as nasty coughs, runny noses, sneezing, and other things that you would rather avoid.

3. Seasons

Upgrade your filters to very high-efficiency filters throughout flu and allergy seasons. If you notice an increase in air particles or pollutants, you should change your air filter more frequently. Additionally, during renovations, the amount of dirt and dust flowing in the house will likely rise, clogging your filter.

In this case, you'll need to change your filters more frequently. For example, if you find yourself vacuuming your house more frequently than usual, it is an indication that you need to check your filter more frequently.

4. Pets

Having pets can affect how often you change your air filter. Pets increase the amount of dander, fur, and dust in the air in your home. It can get even worse if you have multiple pets. The accumulation of fur, dust, and dander can clog up your HVAC unit. If you have a pet, consider replacing your air filter every four to six weeks.

5. Air Filter Type

Air filters come in various types, and some are more effective than others. Fiberglass filters are of lower quality and are less expensive. However, they don't last long and must be replaced every month. Pleated air filters are high-quality filters that catch particles effectively and last for up to 90 days.

6. Children

If you have young children at home, replace your air filters every two months to maintain good indoor air quality.

How to Replace an Air Filter

Before you do anything, be sure your system is turned off. Then, make a note of where your air filter is. Your return (where the air is sucked back from your home into your system) is likely mounted on the wall or ceiling, with a grille covering.

If not, it will be where your air handling unit is located, normally in a closet, basement, or attic—you'll see a small box where the air enters the unit. Depending on your system, remove the grille or open the box. Most grilles include tabs that you can pull up to open, allowing you to access the dirty filter without using a screwdriver. Inside, look for the filter.

The filter sizes, or at the very least model number that you can look up to identify them, should be printed on the filters. Make sure you get a filter that's the same size as the one you have. Remove the clogged filter and inspect for any problems. If it's unusually unclean, you should replace it more frequently.

Look for gaps in the filter, suggesting that your filter isn't big enough or that it needs additional gasketing to fit correctly. Replace the grille or cover after installing the new filter. You're ready to go now! Make a note of the date on your calendar to remind you to recheck it.

What to Look for When Purchasing a New HVAC Filter

1. Reusability

If you don't like the notion of having to replace your air filter every few weeks or months, you might want to consider investing in a washable air filter. Although this may add to your workload, it is beneficial to the environment.

Using a washable filter also has the advantage of allowing you to change it as often as you like while saving money on air filters. In addition, regularly cleaning your filter will improve the indoor air quality within your home.

2. Cost

You should not buy the cheapest filter you can find. The best option is a pleated filter with a robust wire mesh sustaining it and preventing it from collapsing. Of course, if you're still unclear about which filter to use, you can always seek professional assistance.

3. Pleats

A new air filter with more pleats has a better possibility of eliminating contaminants from your indoor air. Seek a filter with a large number of pleats per foot. Pleats are an excellent technique to determine an air filter's overall performance.

4. Size

Because return sizes vary from home to home, double-check the size of your current filter before purchasing.

Types of HVAC Filters

1. Fiberglass Air Filters

A fiberglass air filter is a relatively inexpensive air filter that is disposable. It puts less strain on the HVAC system when pulling in air and keeps big particles out of your system. They do not, however, do an excellent job of trapping particles and keeping dust out.

This sort of filter may not be powerful enough to assist relieve or prevent respiratory difficulties if your family members struggle with allergies or have respiratory problems.

2. Pleated Filters

Cotton or polyester folds are used to make pleated air filters. They are more expensive than fiberglass filters. However, they better filter dust and other tiny particles, including pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. Those with more pleats filter the air better and prevent dust and other air pollutants from being recirculated.

3. HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are recommended if you or your family suffer from allergies or other respiratory issues. They are more expensive than pleated or fiberglass air filters. However, they are the most effective in filtering out up to 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, viruses, germs, and other irritants.

4. UV Filters

Air filters incorporated into your HVAC system may use UV filters. These filters kill viruses, bacteria, and other microbes in the air that flows through them by emitting UV radiation. They are less effective at removing dust and other impurities. They are excellent if you have poor air quality that an air cleaner can address.

5. Media Filters

Media filters give the same level of filtering as a high minimum efficiency reporting value filter but without the drawbacks of airflow and static pressure. Media filters execute their work at maximum efficiency without interfering with airflow or static pressure. These feature a larger surface area, which allows for better filtration while preventing static pressure.

They're simple to keep clean and effective against bacteria and other contaminants. The impurities that have been screened are locked inside, preventing them from being pushed back into the house. These are replaced once or twice a year. However, professional installation is required for media filters.

6. Electrostatic Filters

Static electricity is generated by a combination of fibers in electrostatic filters. This aids in the attraction of dust and dirt particles. The electrostatic charge's magnetism prevents the particles from spreading around the house. It's an excellent option if you are avoiding allergens.

Both disposable and reusable options are provided. Then, when it's time to replace your filter, you have the option of washing it and reusing it or discarding it and purchasing a new one. They're fantastic at removing tiny contaminants. They aren't as efficient, though, against dust and mold spores.

7. Washable Filters

Some air filters are available in both reusable and disposable versions. Washable filters are a terrific way to save money while also helping the environment. Though you'll pay more upfront, the investment will pay off in the long run because they last for years.

Instead of replacing it with new ones a few times a year, all you have to do is wash it and reuse it as needed. Before reinstalling the filter in your HVAC system, be sure it has completely dried.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.