Sometimes we’re asked what is the number one thing that Columbus area homeowner's can do to protect their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is critical to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, in addition to your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? We know it's the last thing on your mind, but this is really important stuff. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most Columbus homeowners, but there are often two challenges to actually getting it done:
- Knowing just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a timeline printed on the packaging. It may say "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Pay attention at the store and you should see that some are meant to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have created media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our customers to go by. If they're dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to listen to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC unit manufacturer.
Deciding how often to change your air filters hinges on several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The collective air quality of your Columbus area home
- Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
- Number of people in the home
- The level of air pollution and construction around the home
For the common 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically say to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is really a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to endure light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a less occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, changing your air filter every 12-months may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.
- Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- House with a pet: Change every 60 days
- Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner's Air Filters
Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning offers a simple solution; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a great to receive discounts on service, tips and other helpful information directly to your email. But wait… there’s more, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Columbus area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.
How to replace your return air filter
Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have an additional filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your HVAC is designed to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can reduce the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:
- Go to your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to remove from the wall.
- Check for a filter. If one is inside, pull it out and note the size.
- Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
- If filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer's recommended filter of the same size and type.
Amazing as it may seem, filters can really impact your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller dust will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may break down much faster than otherwise.