One of the single most important maintenance services you can do for your heating and cooling system is to change out your air filter. Changing your air filter is something that needs to be done periodically for both the sake of your indoor air quality and for the health of your system. However, because these systems are very much an “out of sight, out of mind” thing, the overwhelming majority of American homeowners don’t actually change or even check their filter as often as they should. That leads to a ton of issues, including wasted energy, decreased system lifespan, and poorer air quality that makes life at home not nearly as enjoyable as it should be.
Factors That Make Your Air Filter Dirty Quicker
So how often should you change your air filter? The answer will vary from home to home and there’s no straightforward answer. Everyone’s situation is unique: homes have different floorplans, homeowners have different usage demands, and different factors either contribute or reduce air filter usage for a variety of reasons.
Here are a few of the most common reasons why air filters get dirty faster than they otherwise should.
- You have pets. Dog and cat fur as well as pet dander of all types floats in the air around you, and that means a good chunk of it gets pulled into return vents and registers. Once it enters these registers, its next destination is your air filter, where it will be trapped. Families with one or more pets, particularly pets like larger dogs or cats, will find they have to replace their air filter more frequently than those who don’t have any animals.
- You run your HVAC fan constantly. Some people really like the constant airflow created by leaving your HVAC fan on even when your heating or cooling mechanisms aren’t working. It can make your home feel more comfortable, but the whole time you’re doing so more and more air will be pulled through your HVAC air filter. If you struggle with poor air quality this can also help you breathe easier, but at the cost of needing to replace your air filter far more frequently.
- Your heating and cooling demands are high. On a similar note, if you run your HVAC system frequently, then you’re going to need to change your filter more often. It’s that simple: the more air you pass through your HVAC air filter, the more often you’ll have to change it.
- Your home struggles with dust and indoor air quality issues. If you have a problem with indoor air quality, your air filter is going to fill up faster. Homes with lots of carpets or decorative rugs and homes that frequently leave doors and windows open will all usually struggle with poor quality air due to excessive dust and airborne debris buildup. Leaving the windows open every so often is fine, and in fact, is good for your indoor air. However, it can take its toll on your air quality as well after a while.
In general, single-family home with a family of four will likely need to replace their air filter between every four to five months. However, if you have any of the factors listed above, you may find that number shrinks rather quickly. Having two dogs, for example, may mean you need to change your air filter as little as every two months. Having two dogs and using your HVAC system as an airflow fan throughout the day means you may need to change your filter every month. It just depends on your exact circumstances and you’ll probably have to do some experimentation yourself to figure it out.
Check Your Air Filter Regularly
However, the easiest way to know how often you should be changing your filter is remarkably simple: check your filter every month. Set a reminder in your computer or smartphone to pop up on the same day at the same time every month and take a few seconds to check your filter when it does. If your filter is clean and in good condition, feel free to keep using it. If your filter is dirty, gray, and appears packed with dust and debris, then replace it with a new one. Always keep spare air filters available in your home so you have one ready when you find out it’s time for a change.
If you’re struggling with indoor air quality, find out what you can do to improve it with help from one of the experts at Winters® Home Services! Dial (617) 977-3101 today to request an appointment.