When is the last time you changed your HVAC air filter? Many people aren’t quite sure. It’s an easy household maintenance task to forget about, but one that does need to be done regularly to both keep your unit in good shape and ensure good air quality in your home or building.
What happens if you don’t change your HVAC filter? Air filters are only meant to last for a certain number of months, depending upon quality, and once they wear out the following problems can occur:
- Larger particulates can get in and clog sensitive machinery
- A system with a dirty filter can have a pressure drop
- The unit can become less efficient, using more energy to run
- The lifespan of the HVAC system can be shortened
- Dirty filters subject to condensation can grow mold
Our HVAC Maintenance Team at Air Tech of Central Florida helps residential and commercial clients throughout Altamonte Springs, Deltona, Longwood, Orlando, Oviedo, Winter Park, Winter Springs, and Sanford, FL keep their AC systems running efficiently and ensuring proper proactive maintenance, like regular filter replacement.
While it may not seem like such a small thing as an air filter can have such a big impact on your HVAC unit, keeping the filter changed regularly is vital to system longevity, good indoor air quality, and efficiency.
How Often Should I Change My HVAC Air Filter?
How often you change your filter can depend upon a few factors, such as whether you have pets and the quality of the filter you’re using.
On average, HVAC air filters should be changed every 3 months. (InterNACHI)
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, three months is an average filter replacement timeframe, but it can possibly need to be replaced sooner.
They recommend replacing your HVAC air filter once a month if:
- You run the unit 6 months a year or more
- You have pets
- You have a large family
- There is smoking in your home or building
- Someone in the home or building suffers from allergies or a respiratory condition
- If you live or work in a high wind area with no natural breaks, like shrubs or trees
- If your area is prone to nearby wildfires
- If you have a large garden or farm
- There is nearby construction happening
You should replace your filter immediately if:
- The filter is damaged
- The filter is damp
- There is mold or microbial growth on the filter
So, what is the difference between filters and how well they work? Are some better than others? We’ll take you through that next.
How Do HVAC Air Filters Differ?
Not all HVAC air filters are created equal. While many home owners and facility managers might just grab the cheapest filter, that doesn’t always mean they’re the same in the value you get from them.
Typically, cheaper filters will need replacement more often than those of higher quality. Indoor air quality is also a big consideration with the type of filter you purchase.
To address differences in air filter performance, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a rating system for filters called MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERVE value (ranging from 1 to 16) on an air filter, the finer its filtration, meaning it’s able to keep out more dust and airborne contaminants.
Common types of HVAC air filters used in homes and buildings include the following.
These are the cheapest and need to be replaced the most often. Some organizations suggest monthly replacement of fiberglass filters. They are made of layered fiberglass fibers and reinforced with a metal grating.
Polyester and Pleated Filters
These are similar to the fiberglass filters but constructed slightly better. The pleated design has a higher resistance to airflow and can stop more dust particulates.
High Efficiency Particulate Absorber (HEPA) Filters
HEPA filters have the ability to filter air at a very fine scale. The ones used by the Department of Energy (DOE) and their contractors have to meet a specific standard that specifies filtration of 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger.
Washable Air Filters
This type of filter is not as common and is generally used in industrial processes that use a large volume of course dust. They rely on the build-up of dust on the filter cloth to improve the filtration efficiency.
Tips for Easy Air Filter Replacement
Here are a few tips to help filter replacement go smoothly:
- Be sure to buy the right size filter, so there are no gaps when put in place.
- Turn off the HVAC unit before replacing the filter.
- Make sure the filter is right for your unit and isn’t damaged.
- Follow the directions (some filters use different colors for front/back).
- Clean up any residual dust with a cloth before & after replacement.
- Securely re-fasten any levers, seals, or gaskets meant to hold the filter in place.
- Turn your HVAC unit on and make sure the filter stays in place.
- Note the date and set a reminder for the next replacement.
Need Some Help Replacing Your HVAC Air Filter?
If you’d rather leave air filter replacement to us, Air Tech of Central Florida can come by regularly to replace your air filter and also service your unit to ensure it stays efficient and lasts as long as possible.
We have very affordable HVAC maintenance plans that pay for themselves in energy savings, improved lifespan, and less hassle-factor for you!
Schedule a visit online or give us a call today at 407-696-9876, and we’ll make sure you’ve got a clean and efficient filter and a well-maintained HVAC unit.