Routinely switching out your air filters is essential to keeping your HVAC system in good shape. These filters protect your home from dust, hair, dander, pollen, and other allergens that will tank your air quality. A clogged filter can quickly decrease airflow in the unit and leave your family breathing in contaminants. How often you need to change your filters depends on the type you use and your household’s health needs. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for your home’s HVAC filters.

Benefits of Changing Your Filters Frequently

One of the key advantages to switching out your dirty filters is improved indoor air quality. These filters are one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. They trap airborne pollutants and stop them from entering your furnace, ductwork, and living spaces. Unfortunately, when they fill up, contaminants will have an easier time slipping past into the system. Keeping your filter’s recommended usage guidelines in mind will protect your air quality and ensure you make the most of your filter.

A clean filter also optimizes your HVAC system’s efficiency. Furnaces and AC units work by pulling air through the filter. Clogged filters impede airflow, forcing your equipment to work harder to provide enough temperature control. Your HVAC system will begin to use more energy, steadily increasing your energy costs. Leaving a full filter in for too long also comes with potential overheating and excessive moisture risks.

Replacing your HVAC filter routinely limits your chances of dealing with mold, mildew, or unpleasant odors. When condensation becomes trapped in the filter’s fine fibers, it can create an ideal breeding ground for fungus. This issue can rapidly spread spores and musty smells around your house. Airborne spores can be particularly hazardous to loved ones with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions.

Finally, your air filters protect the condition of your HVAC system’s vital components. In addition to boosting your air quality, filters stop contaminants from settling on your system’s belts, motors, wiring, and more. Too much debris can lower the equipment’s efficiency and result in costly repairs. Rather than grapple with high service and utility bills, you can lengthen your equipment’s lifespan by changing your filter on time.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your HVAC filter. Your indoor comfort system can’t run safely without one. This makes it important to keep track of your filter’s condition and determine the ideal replacement schedule.

Types of HVAC Filters

The type of filter you use can change how often it needs replacing. For example, fiberglass air filters are the cheapest and most common filter type used today. They’re typically made of spun fiberglass in a light cardboard shell. On average, they have a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of only 4. While they’re great at catching large particulates, they’re not effective at capturing tiny debris like pollen or dander. Fiberglass filters only provide basic filtration and aren’t recommended for households with strict air quality requirements. They need to be switched out every month.

Pleated air filters boast enhanced efficiency and air quality control. They’re made of folded polyester or cotton, enabling them to capture more contaminants than fiberglass varieties. Pleated filters are effective at trapping all manner of pollutants like pet dander, spores, and bacteria. They’re a favorite for homeowners looking for a cost-effective filter choice that doesn’t compromise air quality. Generally, they have MERV ratings between 5 and 8 and can last up to three months.

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are one of the top options available. Using these filters guarantees top-of-the-line air quality free of dust mites, viruses, bacteria, and more. Standard HEPA filters have a MERV rating of at least 11. They’re perfect for families that may have health or respiratory concerns. It’s important to note that HEPA filters can restrict the airflow moving into your HVAC system. These filters aren’t ideal for every household, and you should consult with a professional before considering them. HEPA filters must be switched out every six to 12 months.

Electrostatic air filters are a type of washable or reusable air filter. They utilize static electricity to pull larger contaminants from your breathing air. Every month, you’ll need to remove the filter to wash it before reinstalling it. Electrostatic filters tend to cost more initially but last longer than standard options. With proper care, your filter could protect your HVAC system for up to five years. However, be aware that electrostatic options tend to have low MERV ratings. They’re best for households that don’t have high indoor air quality requirements.

Other Factors to Consider

The general rule of thumb for HVAC filters is to replace them at least every 30 to 90 days. This timeframe can vary depending on the size of your home, your filter, the level of indoor pollution, and more. Learning how your unique household impacts your air quality can help you make better filter choices.

Pet owners will want to switch their filters out more regularly than those without animals. Dogs, cats, and other furry companions are full of contaminants that can exacerbate their owners allergies. On top of their dander, pets that go outside can track in pollen, insects, and other debris. If you have one or more animals living in your home, it’s better to replace your filters every month or two.

Loved ones with allergies will also benefit from more regular filter changes. Indoor environments tend to be more polluted than outdoor environments. This occurs due to a lack of ventilation and effective filtration. Instead of struggling with stale or dirty air that can worsen your health, you should choose better filters. The higher your air filter’s MERV rating, the more efficient it will be at removing pollutants. Breathing in fresher air can alleviate respiratory irritation and ensure your family stays comfortable.

You should consider replacing your filter more often than normal if your home is frequently dusty. Excessive contaminants in your house could be caused by your external environment, the state of your ducts, or the quality of your filters. Using fresh filters routinely will pull that dust from your air before it can coat your counters and shelves.

When it comes time to change your filter, look for any visible dirt or dust on the material. While it may start as a clean white or blue color, a dirty filter will be brown or even black. Other signs include a lack of airflow coming from your vents. Your HVAC system may take longer to meet your desired temperature, which often results in higher energy costs. Additionally, the lower air quality could leave your family experiencing unpleasant symptoms like sneezing, coughing, trouble sleeping, or fatigue.

Chandler Indoor Comfort Contractor

Emergency Air Heating Cooling & Plumbing is a heating, cooling, and plumbing company serving residents of Chandler, AZ. We’re a full-service, industry-leading business that guarantees excellent service at a good price. Come to us when you need heating or cooling repairs, tune-ups, or full installations. Our team also offers leak detection, rooter services, fixture repairs, and septic tank care. Call us today to ask about our HVAC filters in Chandler.

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