If you want to keep your air conditioner and heater working smoothly throughout the year, you’ll need to constantly keep an eye on it and make sure it’s set up to perform at its absolute best. Arguably the easiest but also the most important aspect to keeping your system working is making sure your air filter is clean and that your system can quickly and easily pull in air from your return register.
How important is this step? Despite the fact that air filters generally cost no more than a few dollars to replace, a dirty or damaged air filter can be linked to the overwhelming majority of air conditioning and heating problems, from frozen air conditioners to dirty heating coils to damaged or inefficient blower motors. And yet despite the important nature of this regular upkeep task, the overwhelming majority of American homes don’t check or replace their air filter nearly often enough.
How Often Should You Check Your Air Filter?
One of the reasons for this shortcoming is that the majority of people just don’t know how often they should be checking or replacing their filter. Can you leave it working all year? For half the year? A few years or more? When your filter is out-of-sight, it’s easy to also put it out-of-mind and forget about it. However, if too much dirt or debris gets caught in the filter, it can lose effectiveness and even restrict airflow into your HVAC system, resulting in all sorts of problems.
Every homeowner should check their air filter at least once per month. Set a repeating reminder in your calendar or an alarm on your phone if you must, but make sure you don’t forget about this service. Checking your filter is easy—just shut off your HVAC system momentarily, pop open the panel on the front, and remove the brace which holds the filter over your return register. Check the side facing the inside of the register to get a glimpse of the condition of your filter.
If the filter is light-colored or appears mostly intact, then put it back in place, re-secure it, and you’re good to let it go for another month. However, if the once-white filter paper is now a dark shade of grey or appears damaged or full of dust and debris, then it’s time to swap it out.
How Often Should I Replace My Air Filter?
Replacing your air filter isn’t as straightforward as checking it. The average home will most likely need to replace their filter every three months, but a number of factors can make that number go up or down for you. For example, if you run your air conditioner or furnace a lot, those extra hours of use will put a lot more debris in your air filter and cause you to need to swap it out more frequently. If you use your system sparingly, you may get as much as four or five months of life out of it, or maybe even more.
Another factor that influences lifespan: pets. Do you have a dog or cat running around the house? Their fur is a huge factor when it comes to wearing out or filling up your air filter. Likewise, dander and other dust they may track inside all end up in your air filter, reducing its life even further. That’s not to say pets shouldn’t be welcome in your home—however, be aware that having one may lead to filter changes a little bit more often. More pets also increases this tendency even further.
Finally, smoking greatly decreases the life of your air filter. If you smoke indoors, expect to have to change your air filter every one to two months on average.
If you’re struggling with indoor air quality problems or need your air conditioner or heater repaired, choose the experts at EnviroSafe Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Water Treatment to get it done right. Contact us at (856) 878-2806 today.