HVAC Air Filters: Care and Maintenance

We get asked all the time if it is necessary to change HVAC system air filters.

The short answer is YES, it is absolutely necessary for you to replace the air filter in your HVAC unit (furnace & AC) all year round. When it comes to getting the most out of your heating and cooling system, extending the life of your system, and keeping your utility costs down -- checking and changing your air filter is very important. The filter collects dust and debris that might otherwise go into the furnace and cause problems. It does this job pretty well, but it has one major drawback: it can’t get rid of the debris that it collects. This is why the filter needs to be replaced every 1-3 months.

What Happens If I Forget To Change the Filter?

The last thing you want is for your furnace filter to look like the picture. You should change your filter every 1-3 months, depending on such variables as the type of filter you have, if you have pets in the home, and how much your HVAC system is operating. Why is this necessary, and what happens if you don’t change your furnace filter?

  1. Safety Concerns- Dirty filters can cause several safety concerns like clogging, overheating, fire starting, and short cycling (causing your HVAC system to turn off).
  2. Poor Air Quality- The purpose of the air filter is to catch and reduce the amount of dust, pet hair, and other allergens in your home. Having air run through a dirty filter can increase, rather than reduce, these allergens and can cause adverse reactions to people in your home. Oftentimes the air outside your home is much cleaner than your indoor air, which can be concerning especially to those already living in poor air quality areas or those suffering from allergies and breathing conditions. Having an Air Scrubber installed in your HVAC system will clean the air in your home, removing things like dust, pet dander, odors, viruses, and bacteria.
  3. HVAC Unit Lifespan- If the air filter isn’t replaced often enough, it will become clogged to the point that air cannot pass through it. When the furnace is operating, the lack of airflow will trap the heat in the system. As the temperature inside the system continues to rise, the limit switch will activate and shut down the system to prevent it from overheating. This will temporarily mitigate the issue, but it won’t solve the main problem. Without a new air filter, the furnace will overheat every time it starts up again. This is referred to as short cycling.

    Dirty furnace filters cause your furnace to work harder than it should, due to a decrease in airflow. The harder your furnace works, the quicker its parts will wear out and need repairs. In the long run, this will shorten the life of your HVAC unit.

  4. High Energy Costs- Because your furnace works harder with a dirty filter, it will run longer and more often. This increases your energy costs, as your HVAC system struggles to keep your home at the desired temperature.

When Should I Change My Air Filter?

The simple answer is -- when it gets dirty. The tricky thing is that every person’s system is different. Often, people rely on a random “when it feels right” approach. Until you figure out how long your filter will last before needing to be changed, we recommend starting by checking it every month. Take it out, hold it up to the light. If you aren’t seeing enough If you can still see light through it, reinstall it and check it the next month. Eventually, you will learn how often you will need to change your furnace filter. Some people need to change theirs every month while others can change it every 4 months.

Not only does changing your filter make your house’s heating and cooling better, but it also saves a little money on your utility bills.

Many people don’t realize that their furnace has an air filter. What’s important is that you take proper action now to keep the filter in good shape. If you don’t, you could find yourself spending thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs years earlier than you otherwise would have to.

You can save yourself quite a bit of frustration if you remember to check your air filter every month and replace it every few months. This prevents it from becoming clogged and making your furnace work harder and causing issues. If you’re not sure where your air filter is located, give us a call today and we would be happy to show you.

Categories