How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?
Regularly changing the air filter of your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is not only crucial to ensuring the longevity and efficiency of this system, but also to improving your home's indoor air quality. According to Jeffrey May, an expert on the dangers of mold and other home pollutants and the author of My House is Killing Me, your HVAC system is likely your home's biggest culprit of harboring dust mites, mold, and other microbial growth - contaminants that could be making you and your loved ones sick.
Will You Get Sick if You Don't Change Your Air Filter?
Air filters keep pollution and debris out of your HVAC system. Failure to change your air filter regularly could result in contaminants like mold entering your ductwork and then recirculating throughout your home, causing sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or chest tightness.
How Do You Know When to Change Your Air Filter?
How often you should change your air filter depends on a handful of factors. If you live in a single-occupant home with no pets, and you are not an allergy sufferer, you should change your air filter every six to 12 months. If you live in a suburban home with no pets, change your air filter every 90 days; if you have one pet, change your air filter every 60 days. If you live in a suburban home with multiple pets and/or you are an allergy sufferer, aim to change your air filter ever30-45 days.
To further ensure the optimal indoor air quality of your home, May also suggests, "Have your air ducts professionally cleaned at least every couple of years. And be sure to service your heating system, as well, to make it operate more efficiently and cleanly."
How to Change Your Air Filter
Allstate provides the following steps to help you are able to change your air filter quickly and easily:
- Buy a new filter. Check your owner's manual for the right number or size, and buy a replacement at a hardware store or department store.
- Turn off the unit. If you can't figure out how to turn off the unit itself, you should turn off the breaker.
- Remove the old filter. Most air filters are located on the right side of the unit. The filter should easily pull out of its slot in the furnace.
- Insert new filter. There are arrows on the new filter to indicate which side should be facing the outside air. Simply look for the arrows and slide the new filter into place.
More info? For more information on the importance of maintaining your home's HVAC system and ductwork, check out our other post, Air Duct Dangers: Are Your Dirty Ducts Making You Sick?