Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that the U.S. area homeowner’s can do to secure 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. Buying new furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, as well as your home’s air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most the U.S. homeowners, but there are often two challenges to actually getting it done:
Most filters have a printed “expiration” date on the packaging. It may read “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Pay attention at the store and you’ll notice that some are designed to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our readers to go by. If they’re dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to expensive components, like your compressor, so it’s better to change it out more often than not. 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 setting a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Deciding how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
For your typical 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, annual replacement of your air filter may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick. Naturally, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.
Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a convenient way to get money-saving discounts and other helpful information on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your the U.S. area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or any date you find most convenient.
Most of us know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have an additional filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your system is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can shorten the lifespan of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:
Crazy as it may seem, filters can really affect your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier debris will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than the standard.
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