Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that the U.S. area homeowner’s can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their regular tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, as well as your home’s air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is in 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 difficult for most the U.S. homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually accomplishing this task:
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 designed to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our customers to go by. If it’s dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it’s recommended to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer might have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Deciding how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
For your typical 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturer specs basically suggest to change them every 30-60 days, which is really a great rule of thumb. But general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more frequently than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a low population area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, annual replacement of your air filter may be quite sufficient. Why do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Of course, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.
Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a convenient way to get money-saving discounts and other helpful information on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. Plus, 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 us know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have an extra filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit’s manufacturer recommends. Your HVAC is designed to handle a certain amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can decrease the lifespan of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
Incredible though it may seem, filters can really alter your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer dust will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than otherwise.
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