Many homeowners overlook the importance of changing their home’s air filter. Just think about it for a minute. When was last time you actually checked and changed your home’s filter? Often, we get caught up doing other repairs around the house, and we forget those things that could have a direct effect on our health and finances. Regular changes of your filter are essential to maintain a properly functioning HVAC system and to protect the air that you and your family breathe. Learn why and when you should be concerned about changing your home’s air filter.
Why You Should Perform Filter Changes
Worn down or clogged filters can cause significant damage to your HVAC system. Excessive dirt and debris are a major cause of HVAC system failure. Yet, the problems caused by clogged filters can be easily avoided. If you take the time to check your filter on a regular basis, you can easily increase the lifespan of your HVAC system. In the end, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs and service costs.
Secondly, when you take care of your filter, you maximize the efficiency of your system as a whole. A clogged or dirty filter will have a much harder time filtering out air. This means that your system will work extra hard just to produce results similar to that of a clean filter. You’ll be sure to see the difference in your monthly electricity bill. By using a new one, you can expect to shave 10 to 20% off of your monthly electricity costs. You’ll also perform preventative maintenance that will stave off repairs.
Third, using a new filter makes sure that your home is filled with clean, fresh air. Healthy, breathable air is preferred by everyone. People in your home who suffer from breathing problems, such as asthma or allergies, are particularly susceptible to getting sick due to poor air quality. Old, worn filters disseminate small dust particles into the air of the home. They also create a haven for dust mites, bacteria particles, and traces of pollen. Simply put, when your air filter is not up to standard, it is unable to adequately clean the air. Regular air filter changes are the only way to ensure that your home contains purified air.
When to Replace an Air Filter
Figuring out when to change a home air filter can be confusing for many homeowners. Fortunately, there are some general rules of thumb that you can follow. The suggested schedule for changing an air filter will largely depend on a few factors. First, it will depend on the type of air filter and the overall quality of the indoor air. It will also depend on how many people live in the home, and how many pets share the living space. Finally, you’ll need to have an idea of the air pollution levels outside of the home in the area where you live.
Basic filters should be changed every 1 to 2 months. However, if allergies are a problem in the home, it is suggested that the filter is changed more frequently. HVAC professionals, such as Dowd Mechanical Heating & Air, suggest upgrading the quality of the filter to reduce the presence of allergens in the air.
In some scenarios, you may be able to go longer between filter changes. This will depend on where the home is located. For example, homes in the countryside where traffic and pollution are minimal will not require monthly air changes. Instead, these types of homes may be able to get by on one to two filter changes per year.
In contrast, homes in city or suburban environments should stick to a regular schedule for air filter changes. Again, this means changing the filter every 30 to 60 days. In some cases, it may be OK to change filters every 90 days. Nevertheless, be aware that timely filter changes are always the best for your system, and for optimal interior air quality.
Types of Filters
Homeowners should also be aware that there are many different types of air filters available on the market. The typical type sold in most stores is a flat, fiberglass model. These are popular due to their cheap cost and easy installation. The main problem with fiberglass filters is that they are not highly effective at blocking all types of particles. Thus, you need to pay attention to air quality levels when using fiberglass filters.
Another type of filter is the pleated style. As the name suggests, these filters contain pleats that help trap certain particles. This type of filter is frequently recommended for people who have allergic reactions. With a pleated filter, you can expect that approximately 45% of the particles will be removed from the air. The down-side to pleated filters is that they tend to be more expensive than fiberglass filters.
Another type of filter that is becoming more popular is the electrostatic air filter. An electrostatic filter uses the power of electricity to trap charged particles. The benefit of this type of filter is that it magnetically attracts particles. They also tend to have a longer lifespan. The downfall of using these types of filters is that they can produce harmful Ozone byproducts, and are more expensive than other models.
One more option is the HEPA filter. These filters are known as the most effective at trapping particles. HEPA filters are capable of blocking more than 90% of airborne particles. However, they tend to be so thick and bulky that they can overly restrict the air that passes through them. This means that you might have to run your system longer to circulate air through the home. Due to this, HEPA filters are not recommended for those who want to save on energy costs.