The importance of routinely changing your air filters
Owning a home comes with a checklist of maintenance items that you need to complete to keep it moving along smoothly. It can be overwhelming when people offer advice on the most important things you need to do. One item you may have heard a lot about is changing your air filter. You have questions about this, including:
- What Is an Air Filter?
- Why do I need to change the air filter in a home?
- How often do I need to change the air filter?
These are common questions that homeowners often have. Here's everything you need to know:
What is an air filter, and why do I need to change it?
An air filter is the first line of defense for your HVAC system to keep allergens, dust and debris from entering the system. Your HVAC system works by drawing air in from your home, heating or cooling the air, and then returning it to your home. You want the air that gets heated or cooled to be as clean as possible, and a clean air filter is the best option.
Reasons to change the air filter in your home
As the air goes through the filter, tiny particles of dirt and debris get trapped by it. These particles eventually become so numerous that it's hard for air to pass through it. If your air filter becomes clogged, it can create all sorts of problems, such as:
- Shorten the lifespan of your HVAC system: When the air filter doesn't allow air to easily pass through it, the motor of your air conditioning or heating system must work harder to accommodate the reduced air. The harder the motor works directly relates to how long the air conditioner or heater last. While the average lifespan is generally 16 to 20 years, poor maintenance, such as failing to replace the air filter, can reduce the number of years.
- Increase utility bills: According to ENERGY STAR, heating accounts for 29 percent of your annual utility bills while air conditioning accounts for 13 percent. Of course, these numbers may vary depending on where you live. When the motor works harder to account for less air, it's also drawing more electricity, causing your utility bills to increase. You actually get more energy savings from changing the air filter.
- Frozen condenser coils: When you're running the air conditioning, the air moves over the condenser coils to become cooled. When the air filter fails to catch the dirt and debris, it builds up inside the system, including on the condenser coils. Ice forms on the coils after the unit runs for a little while, and this causes the air conditioner to stop pushing out cold air.
- More dust and allergens in the air of your home: When the dirt, debris and allergens aren't trapped in the air filter, they may get pushed back into your home. Instead of removing these irritants, your HVAC begins to circulate it around your home. If you have young children, someone with asthma or other breathing issues, or an elderly family member living in your home, this can cause health issues. You want improved air quality.
- Bad for the environment: Your HVAC system already releases carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases. When your system works harder, it releases even more of these gases, adding to your home's carbon footprint needlessly.
- Fewer repairs: When it comes to maintenance for your HVAC system, changing your air filter is the easiest and least expensive things you can do. For most HVAC units, changing the air filter takes less than five minutes and costs a few bucks. Changing the air filter means that the inside of your HVAC unit stays cleaner. Dirt and debris can build up inside, leading to expensive repairs.
- The HVAC unit won't keep your home as comfortable: The blower won't push as much heated or cooled air into your home as it does when the filter is clean. You may find yourself too cold or too hot. It might also mean that some rooms are warmer or colder. You want your home to have a pleasant temperature throughout.
- Moisture can build up on a clogged air filter: A clogged air filter provides a space for moisture to collect. This moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which can further pollute your air. With too much mold in your home, it becomes a health hazard, especially for young children, elderly residents and anyone with breathing issues.
Your air filter is easy to change, and it can cost as little as two dollars to replace. It's a good idea to review the manual for your HVAC system to find the location of the air filter and steps for changing it.
How often do you need to change the air filter in the home?
Now that you understand how important it is to change your air filter, you need to know how often to change it. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, you need to change your air filter at least every three months. However, your home and HVAC system may benefit from changing it more often. Consider these factors:
- Small children
- Pets, especially long-haired cats and dogs
- Smokers in the home
- People with asthma or other breathing issues
- Health issues
If anyone in your home has these factors, it's beneficial to change your air filter more often. You might consider changing it once a month, since it's so easy to do, and it isn't expensive. It's a good idea to change your air filter at the same time each month, such as the first or last day. You might change the air filter each time you pay the electric bill. If you connect changing the air filter with a set event, it's easier to develop the habit of changing it.
At AdvantaClean, we can help you maintain your HVAC system with air duct cleaning. If your system gets mold due to a clogged air filter, our technicians can help remove it. Contact us today if you have any more questions about changing your air filter.