Sometimes we’re asked what is the best thing that Charlotte area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal PLUS Maintenance Tune-ups? That’s an easy one; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is critical to the ideal operation of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks? It’s not thought of often, but it is extremely important to consider. Changing the air filters is not difficult for most Charlotte homeowners, but there are usually two obstacles to actually accomplishing this task:
- Knowing just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Remembering to change air filters when needed.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a recommended guideline on the packaging. 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 a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be changed 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 it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to pricey equipment, like your compressor, so it's best to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to follow the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest scribbling 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 unit manufacturer.
Choosing how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The collective air quality of your Charlotte 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 the common 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically say to change them every 30-60 days, which is actually a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more regularly 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, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.
- Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Typical suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- House with a pet: Change every 60 days
- More than one pet or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Air Filters
Here’s an easy way to stay on top of this; 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. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Charlotte area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or a specific date of your choice.
How to replace your return air filter
Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have another filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit's manufacturer recommends. Your HVAC is designed to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your house, and the more filters you have the more the blower motor works, which can decrease the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
- Go to your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to take off the wall.
- Look 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.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can dramatically alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend checking in with the manufacturer. A more expensive HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller dust will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes increased pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience uneven heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may break down much faster than the standard.