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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As a homeowner, you have stream of obligations which you fulfill on time to keep your house in great condition. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system replacement will be among the other tasks you will be undertaking. How frequently do you change your air filter?

Air filters have a definite lifespan. Continuous monitoring of when you change your filter is essential, as it makes it possible for you to know when to replace them. If you are late to replace an old filter it can overburden with stress and eventually collapse which add to the comfort and cooling system of your home also as well as your HVAC system.

 The challenge lies in figuring out when the air filter should be changed. Every house is itself, therefore every time this question comes up whether or not your home gets air filters, the answer will differ. Another consideration that will affect replacement frequency is the type of air filter you choose.

When using fiberglass filters that are less pricey, it is advisable to change your filter every 30 days. Besides, we recommend changing the expensive filters every 6 months. For example, if you have allergies, asthma, or live with dogs, the later may the best option for you. When you buy a new filter it will tell you how it long it will last, and you will see the information on it.

However, the cut-off date must be the recent date you may keep it after. There are times when you need to change your old filter a little in advance than what the manufacturer has recommended. However, irrespective of a difference as the case may be, the solution that is adapted for you to a well-maintained filter needs to be learned.

What Happens if Your Air Filter isn’t Changed?

Failure to change your air filter as frequently as you should may cause permanent damage to your home HVAC systemThe pleasant feeling of inhaling fresh air is the first reason to replace your air filter. It is extremely important to change your home filter frequently to prevent the onset of any health issues which could worsen when you breathe the unfiltered air. It will also save you money on your energy bills because the machine will run without being obstructed by a clogged filter.

What Are the Benefits of Changing Your Air Filter?

1. Reduce the Repair Costs

Over extended periods of time the dirt, the carpets’ fibres, dust, and other pollutants accumulate in your air filters. The efficiency of the HVAC unit can be damaged by this fossilized version. Running the AC would be more efficient if you were to replace your air filter. Although a clean HVAC air filter could let HVAC system work harder, a dirty or blocked filter is the opposite.

The needs for repairs of the worn-out elements will increase with years that, in the end, might cause even a replacement. One of the ways of prolonging the life of your air conditioner is by changing your dirty air filter. This also helps in providing optimum cooling. Saving your money can be done by changing your air filter from time to time.

2. Electricity Savings

Replacing your air filter can mend your heating and cooling system's bills during the summer, even more so! When the filter of your HVAC is clogged the HVAC system works harder to supply fresh air all around your house, which uses more electricity.

The more you use, the more you'll pay in averagely. Placing the new air filter instead of the old one in the electricity system will let you reduce your expenses on the billing. As well, the choice to buy a low cost air filter and changing it when it is the time to do so will save you money on repairs.

3. Improved Air Quality

Indoor air which you breathe might be even 2 to 5 times more contaminated than the air outside the building. Due to this, it can arise a lot of symptoms you can hardly connect it with the AC itself. Likewise, it could be the air contaminated by dusty filters when you are in the house for hour that is trigering your headache

You're badly affected by severe allergies when you exhale in dusty air. There will be no facilitation in that case: no particles or other toxic substances coming into your lungs. Health is the number one priority and by maintaining it, it will prolong the life of a person in better quality.

Factors to Consider when Determining How Often to Change Air Filter

1. House Occupancy

The regulations may be complicated when your home is a vacation home, where you spend a short time every year. Consequently, some times of the year there's less human activity. Because of that, your new clean air filter will have fewer impurities in it.

The less impurities there are, the longer the air filter lasts. To a great extent, you can increase the time between the filter change-outs. Change air filters of every holiday home twice a year.

If you live alone and without having any pets, it means that you can change your air filter less often. When the number of people in the house is less, it takes less time for your air filter to clog.

2. Allergies or Asthma

People who suffer from allergies or asthma should replace the filters of their homes regularly. Respiratory problems make it easier for you to catch airborne particles. Change your air filter at least every six weeks to maintain the best quality of indoor air.

Additional dander, dust, and impurities are allowed to collect in your filter and go into your home, affecting your health. Filters plugging can lead to symptoms including yucky coughs, runny noses, sneezing, and others which you should be wary about.

3. Seasons

Update your filters to very efficient filters, at least once during cold and flu, and allergy seasons. If you observe air particles or other pollutants being deposited in your air filter more thamn normal, you should change your air filter more frequently. Also, the number of dirt and dust pieces roaming in the house will increase, keeping your filter coated.

Here filters will have to be replaced more often. To illustrate, if you are frequently seen picking up the vacuum for cleaning the house more often than usual, it is an indicator that your filter needs cleaning.

4. Pets

The number of pets in your house can influence how often you need to change the air filter. These creatures boost the level of dander, fur, and dust in the air in your home. It will worsen if you have many pets. The accumulation of fur, dust and dander can cause your HVAC unit to be blocked. You should change your air filter every 4 to 6 weeks if you have a pet.

5. Air Filter Type

There are different kinds of air filters, while some are more efficient than the others. Lower quality fiberglass filters and less expensive ones do exist. Nevertheless, their lifespans are limited, and they need to be changed out every month. Pleated air filters are the high-quality filters that traps particles really well and can last up to 90 days.

6. Children

If you have small children at home, don’t forget to change your air filters every two months for good indoor air quality.

How to Replace an Air Filter by yourself

Some people may argue that air filter change is costly and can only be performed by an expert but that is not the case at all.

Interestingly, you can replace even the air filter inside your HVAC system by  yourself if you have the tools. Situated below is a list of tips that are going to help you pull it through with ease.

1. Get Your Tools

Before you tackle the DIY air filter changing by yourself, it is very crucial that your toolkit have the right tools. That is why you will be getting this screwdriver in addition to the new air filter that can be fastened over the grille of the old one. Indeed, you your have to have sorted size of the air filter to prevent dust or debris going through the filter. Running at an ineffective rate can be the result in this case. Additionally if you attempt to stuff the incorrect filter size into the unit you can be creating serious damage. If you aren't certain about the size of the HVAC system your house needs, scan the designations mentioned on the edges of your old filter.

Online is a place to find multitude of filter sizes, such as 16 x 25 x 1 that comes generally. We advise you to have them bought in bulk so that you will always have a stock you can turn into when you are doing your next change of filter.

2. Shut It Off

If you would like to be self-dependent in changing your air filters you should be certain first of all that you have switched off your system. The final thing that you definitely do not need is for the system to freeze at the very time when you are interchanging the filters because it would lead to the cost of money that you didn’t factor in your budget. Following disconnecting the device, access panels have to be taken out. This procedure is not hard, at least I think, but if you can’t manage to do it then it is better if you check your manual to prevent breaking anything.

3. Remove The Old Filter

Once you have unfastened the filter access panel; you should be able to easily take out the old filter and feed in the new one. It is imperative you dispose of this well so that you don’t disseminate dirt and grime all over your home. Immediately put the old air filter in a refuse bag to keep the dirt firmly trapped. If you have an air filter you can put this into the recycling bin, so think about this before you press the trash bin. Call your supplier, ask how you should dispose your air filter properly. In this manner the intended beneficiary is assured of the fund allocation.

4. Change The Filter

The subsequent step you should take is to fit your required HVAC filter in your system. Verify that the arrows that are on the sides of the filters are seen properly by you. These are indicating the way in which an air is being flowed so ensure that an arrow is coming from the same direction by which air streams into it. If you can’t figure this out, it would be better to seek another expert's advice so that you don't fit the filter incorrectly.

5. Turn It Back On

After you have confirmed that you have mounted air filter well, you ought to close the access panels properly. It this manner, you can be certain that the filters are working at their optimum performance. Not at least, you can now crank up the HVAC system. Check out for any strange sounds as they could be an outcome of some wrong being happen. As time passes you’ll become familiar with the noise your HVAC system producing and when it’s time to change the filter you’ll know for sure that you all is ok.

What to Look for When Purchasing a New HVAC Filter

1. Reusability

If air filter replacement is something that you definitely don’t like to do ever after few weeks or months, perhaps you should consider purchasing a washable one. The situation may be so since this simply adds to you work, but it would only benefit the environment.

Washable filters bring in the additional benefit of choosing the frequency at which your filter needs to be changed whilst saving you some money on filter units as well. In addition, regularly changing your filter of air will have a role in improving the quality of air indoors.

2. Cost

You should not go for the cheapest filter readily available. The best alternative is a pleated filter with a resilient wire mesh which can withstand the filter's collapse. But if you haven't decided on the appropriate filter, then you can always count on professional help.

3. Pleats

A new air filter with larger number of pleats has a greater chance of reducing the amount of contaminants in your indoor air. Find a filter with a high number of pleats per foot. The pleats is really an excellent tool to determine the overall purity of the air filter.

4. Size

As the size of the return varies from house to house, you should double-check the size of your present filter before buying.

Types of HVAC Filters

1. Fiberglass Air Filters

A fiberglass air filter is one of the cheapest disposable air filters. It lessens the HVAC strain in the process of pulling in air and also prevents the bigger particles from getting into your system. On the other hand, they are not very good at trapping dust particles and preventing them from escaping.

This type of filter may not be strong enough to help relieve or prevent respiratory problems if your family members have allergy issues or suffer from respiratory problems.

2. Pleated Filters

Cotton or polyester folds are used to manufacture pleated air filters. They cost more than fiberglass filters though. On the other hand, they remove a smaller portion of larger particles, including dust as well as pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. The fabric with more pleats works better at filtering the air. They prevent dust and other air pollutants from being recirculated.

3. HEPA Filters

 People with allergies and respiratory issues may want to consider using High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. They cost more than pleated or fiberglass air filters. However, they are superior in the efficiency of 99%. over 97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, viruses, germs and other irritants.

4. UV Filters

The HVAC system can make use of UV filters that come in the form of air filters. These filters eliminate viruses, bacteria, and other microbes by emitting UV radiation which kills them as the air passes through them. They work less efficiently in cleaning of dust and other types of impurities. They are excellent if you have low air quality problems that an air cleaner can solve.

5. Media Filters

Media filters offer the same grade of filtering as high minimum efficiency reporting value filter but without the disadvantages of air flow rate and static pressure. Media filters always work accurately without compromising airflow or static pressure. These design elements have a larger surface area this allows for more effective filtration but still maintains low pressure.

They're easy to clean and efficient in killing off bacteria and other microbes. Not only are the impurities that have been screened inside the house, but they also cannot be pushed back into the house. They are replaced once or twice a year. But the processional installation is necessary for media filters.

6. Electrostatic Filters

Static electricity is caused by a mixture of fibers in electrostatic filters. It helps to draw dust and dirt towards it. The charged particles are unable to spread around the house because of the electrostatic force. It's a perfect option for you if you have allergies.

Both disposable and reusable are available. Then, when the time comes for you to replace the filter, you can choose to reuse it by washing it or discard it and purchase a new one. They're great at removing microparticles. However, they are less effective when it comes to getting rid of dust and mould spores.

7. Washable Filters

Some of the filters can be used as either reusable or disposable. Washable filters are a very good choice if you want to save money and, at the same time, protect the environment. Despite the higher initial cost, the investment is still worth it because they are durable and long-lasting.

Rather than buying a new one every few months, you only need to wash it and use it whenever needed. Make sure the filter is completely dry before you mount it back into your HVAC system.

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.
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