When Should I Change My Air Conditioner’s Air Filter at Home?

Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Winnipeg area homeowner’s can do to maintain their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled tune-ups? That’s an easy one; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, as well as your home’s air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is among 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 Winnipeg homeowners, but there are usually two obstacles to actually accomplishing this task:

    1. Understanding just how often to replace your furnace or air conditioner filter.
    1. Replacing them at the proper time.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a timeline printed on the wrapping. It may read “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Check out the filters at the store and you’ll notice that some are designed to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our friends, and family to go by. If they’re dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can exacerbate or cause damage to pricey parts, like your compressor, so it’s best to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

Figuring out how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:

    • Type of filter your A/C system requires
    • The collective air quality of your Winnipeg area home
    • Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
    • Number of occupants in the house
    • How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home

For your standard 1″-3″ air filters, the OEM specs basically say to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is actually a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you might need to upgrade your air filter or change them even more frequently 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 with few automobiles and trucks, 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 in no time, just like a vacuum. Of course, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but exceptionally dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.

In summary:

    • Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
    • Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
    • House with a pet: Change every 60 days
    • Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filters

It’s simple; 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. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Winnipeg 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 system, but some houses have an extra filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on which HVAC system you have. Your unit is designed to handle a certain amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can shorten the life expectancy of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:

    • Find your return air vents.
    • Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to take off the wall.
    • Check for a filter. If one is in place, pull it out and write down 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 greatly affect your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier debris will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than otherwise.

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