The Frequency of Replacing Your AC Filter | IT Landes
AC Filter in Harleysville, PA

Before your air conditioner distributes cool air throughout your home, the air is first sent through a filter that captures airborne contaminants. Any dust or dirt that gets into the air should be caught by this filter. However, all filters become less effective over time as pet hair, dirt, lint, and dust build up. If the filter becomes too clogged, your system’s efficiency could be negatively impacted, as could your indoor air quality, which is why it’s important to replace the filter regularly. 

What are AC Filters?

Air filters are often made from pleated paper that’s framed with cardboard or spun fiberglass. These filters can be placed in the blower compartment to trap contaminants before the air is sent into your home. While certain air filters are more effective at blocking contaminants than others, most of them are capable of blocking:

  • Bacteria
  • Dust
  • Pet hair
  • Dirt
  • Lint
  • Mold

MERV Rating Description

By blocking and collecting airborne contaminants, air filters help deliver healthy indoor air. All filters come with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating that tells you how effective the filter is at removing particles from the air. Filters that have high MERV ratings are capable of trapping smaller particles, while filters that have low MERV ratings might only be able to block larger particles. 

Even though it’s possible for filters to have MERV ratings of 17 to 20, these filters are mainly used in a hospital setting. Filters with MERV ratings of 12 or below are most often installed in residential homes or commercial settings. 

Keep in mind that a high MERV rating isn’t always preferable. If the rating is higher than what your air conditioner manufacturer recommends, it’s possible that the unit’s performance could be adversely affected. Filters with high ratings are outfitted with smaller pores, which can lead to air flow problems in systems that aren’t equipped to manage the resistance. To avoid efficiency issues, stress on your system, and indoor air quality problems, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding furnace filter changes.

When to Replace Filter

While there are several factors that determine how often you should change your air filter, there are some general recommendations you should consider. A typical fiberglass filter will usually need to be replaced every 30 days or so during routine maintenance. On the other hand, there are higher-quality filters that can last up to 90 days or more before needing to be replaced. There are new air filter designs that are washable. They may only need to be serviced once every six months.  

Special Circumstances

There are several scenarios that can impact how often you change your filter. For instance, does anyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma? These individuals will be more sensitive to all types of airborne contaminants, which is why it’s best to change your air filter at four-to six-week intervals to maintain high indoor air quality. 

If you have pets that shed, consider replacing your filter more frequently than is recommended by the filter you’re using. Shedding is most prevalent during the spring and fall months, which is when you should keep an eye on your filter. 

In the event that you have younger children, clean air is essential if you want to keep everyone healthy during cold and flu season. There are certain filters that can remove bacteria and viruses from the air inside your home. 

Factors That Impact Filter Longevity

There are several factors that can impact the longevity of your air filter. People who live in more temperate climates and only use their air conditioner for several hours each day can go an entire season without replacing their filter. On the other hand, it may be best to replace your air filter every three to four weeks if it’s constantly running. 

The overall size of your home also plays a role in determining how often you should replace your filter. HVAC systems in small homes are tasked with pumping less air to keep a home cool, which means that your filter might not need to be replaced as often. The quality of your indoor air might influence how often your filter needs to be changed. If you have particularly poor air quality, replace your filter more frequently. 

The Result of Not Replacing Your Filter

Filters aren’t necessarily designed to purify your home’s air. Instead, they are meant to ensure the important components in your furnace and air conditioner don’t become damaged. While filters with high MERV ratings between 12 and 16 are capable of filtering out smaller fungal and bacterial particles, filters with MERV ratings between 8 and 11 mainly block larger pieces of pet hair, dirt, and dust particles. 

Even though many air filters are disposable and should be replaced on a regular basis, it’s possible that your air conditioner comes with a reusable filter that’s made with a metallic frame. If you have this type of filter, it can be cleaned and placed back in your system to continue filtering your air. 

If you forget to replace your AC filter consistently, it will begin to fail. When this occurs, it won’t filter your air correctly and will likely let contaminants and dust get into your air conditioning unit. Dust can create friction in your system’s moving parts, which include the valves and fan motors. 

When airflow becomes limited, more stress is placed on your air conditioning system. In this scenario, the HVAC unit will use more power to push in the same amount of air, which means that the unit will be less efficient. If you want to ensure most spores and allergens are caught by your filter, select a high energy particulate air (HEPA) filter. 

Signs That a Replacement Filter is Necessary

There are many signs that your air filter should be changed aside from just looking at the filter. For instance, if you notice that dirt and debris have built up in your intake or output vents, there’s a good chance that there’s a lot of dust and dirt on your filter. 

Once a filter becomes less efficient, you may notice a thick layer of dust on cabinets, countertops, and electronics, which means that a lot of dust is circulating in your air. You may notice that it takes longer for your air conditioning equipment to cool your home to your preferred temperature. Some modern systems come with indicators that tell you when the filter should be replaced. 

If you would like to have your AC filter replaced or assessed by professionals, our team at IT Landes can assist with any make or model of air conditioner or furnace. While replacing the filter, we can also inspect the system to ensure it’s running well and doesn’t require further maintenance. Our air conditioning services extend to repair and installation as well. Along with our heating and cooling services, we provide homeowners in Harleysville with a selection of plumbing and air quality services. Call IT Landes today to schedule an appointment.

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