Having your heating and cooling systems serviced regularly by a professional is essential. These visits ensure efficient heating and cooling and longer-lasting air conditioners and heaters. However, between visits, replacing air filters is just as important to maintain your system.

Air Filter Replacement Intervals

HVAC manufacturers recommend replacing the air filter in your system no less than once every three months. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, as there are often situations where you’ll need to replace the filter sooner.

One factor influencing how soon you will have to replace your HVAC air filter is how often your heating or cooling system runs. If your HVAC system only runs for a few hours each day during milder weather, you’re usually fine with replacing the filter in the intervals suggested by manufacturers. However, during extreme temperatures, your system will work harder to keep your home comfortable, and you must change the filter more often.

How efficient the filter is can also be a factor. Higher-rated filters are more effective at filtering out debris and airborne particles. This greater filtration capability means they are better at protecting indoor air quality. However, it also means they will clog faster and must be changed out more often.

The age of your home and the condition of your ductwork can also make a difference in how long your air filters last. Older homes are often dustier since they tend to have many places where air and dust can be drawn in from outside. If your home is dusty, air filters will get dirty and clog faster. Regular vacuuming and wiping down surfaces can limit the amount of dust and debris that gets sucked into your HVAC system through the return air vents.

If your ductwork is relatively old, your air filters will quickly get dirty. This is because old ductwork typically has air leaks that can allow more dust and debris in and lead to the filter clogging faster. Having your ductwork professionally serviced every three to five years will help make your air filters last longer.

During this visit, the HVAC professional will clean the interior of your ducts, identify any problematic gaps or leaks, and seal them. Not only will this reduce how often you have to replace filters, but it will also improve indoor air quality and the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

One final factor is whether you have indoor pets and how much they shed. Having lots of pet hair floating around your home will quickly clog up an air filter. However, you can prevent this by brushing your pets often. When possible, you should brush them outside.

How to Know When You Need to Replace the Air Filter

As you can see, knowing how often you should replace the air filter in your HVAC system isn’t an exact science. The only way to know if your filter should be replaced is to check its condition monthly. It can be helpful to make a note on your calendar or set an alert on your phone so that you remember. Many smart thermostats can also be programmed to send you an alert at set intervals to remind you to check or replace the filter.

When checking the filter, the main things to focus on are its color and the density of debris. If there is lots of hair and other debris on the filter and it’s black or dark colored, it needs to be replaced.

Another helpful tip for checking the filter’s condition is to hold it up to a light source. If you can’t easily see the light through the filter, it indicates that it is too clogged and should be changed out for a new one.

If you use reusable, washable filters instead of disposable filters, you should also inspect them once a month. Cleaning them when necessary is a simple process. First, remove the filter from the system and rinse both sides with warm water. Next, wash it with dish soap. You can remove caked-on grime with a soft-bristled brush.

Be careful not to scrub too hard and damage the filter. Rinse the filter again to remove all the suds and debris. Finally, allow the filter to dry completely before returning it to your heating or cooling system.

Why Replacing the Air Filter Is Essential for Your HVAC System

A dirty, clogged air filter severely limits how much air can circulate through your heating or cooling unit. Restricted airflow is the most common cause of many HVAC issues. For instance, it can quickly lead to your AC unit freezing up or your furnace overheating and shutting down.

In addition, if the filter is too dirty and the airflow is too restricted, it will make your heating and air conditioning far less effective. Each heating or cooling cycle will be longer, increasing energy bills and the wear and tear on your heating or cooling unit. Poor air filter maintenance can shorten the lifespan of your HVAC system and require an expensive replacement before it’s necessary.

How to Know Which Air Filter Is Right for Your HVAC System

When purchasing a new air filter, you need to ensure it’s the correct size for your HVAC system, or else it won’t fit. The second most important factor is the filter’s efficiency rating. Although some retailers and manufacturers have their own rating systems, the efficiency of most filters is measured using the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale.

The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 20, but residential HVAC air filters are usually between MERV 5 and 13. Filters with a higher MERV rating are more efficient and can filter out smaller airborne particles and pollutants. Anything under MERV 5 won’t be effective enough to remove dust and other particles that can damage your HVAC system or make it less efficient.

It’s essential to remember that the higher a filter’s MERV rating is, the more it will restrict the airflow in your HVAC system. You shouldn’t use anything above a MERV 8 to 10 filter if you have an older system. A filter with a higher rating may restrict airflow so much that it will lead to the same issues as running the system with a filthy filter.

A filter with a MERV rating between 6-13 meets the needs of most households. Filters rated at the higher end of this range are more expensive. However, the extra expense may be worth it if any of your family members have respiratory issues like asthma or allergies. A MERV 10 to 12 filter is the best choice for asthma and allergies since it will capture the majority of pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, and other allergens.

Contact the Pros

At Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing, we are a family-owned business that has been serving South Jersey for over 75 years. We install, repair, and maintain heating and cooling systems. Additionally, we are expert plumbers. Turn to our membership benefits! Contact Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert HVAC technicians.

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