Your central air conditioning system keeps you cool and comfortable each summer by moving a great deal of air both inside and outside your home, which is whyair conditioning maintenanceIs important. Inside your home, there is an air handling unit that draws indoor air through the evaporator coil where heat and moisture are removed, leaving indoor air cooler and more comfortable. At the same time, cool air is recirculated back into your home. The air filter for your air conditioning system is usually located inside the air handling unit or outside the cabinet in the duct. It traps contaminants from the air entering the system, which can help keep cooling system components cleaner and maintain better quality of the air you and your family breathe.
To help protect the life of your air conditioner and improve comfort, it's important to clean or replace the HVAC filter regularly. It is because:
- Energy efficiency:A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow through the system. As the system will have to work harder to maintain your comfort, it uses more electricity, which can increase your energy bills. According to the Department of Energy, replacing a clogged and dirty filter can increase system efficiency by 5 to 15%.1
- Comfort:Knowing how often to change your air filters can affect your comfort. An neglected and dirty air filter can make it difficult for your heating and cooling system to keep you comfortable.
- System reliability:Since a clogged and dirty filter can make fan motors and other components work harder, ignoring routine filter maintenance can shorten the life of your HVAC system.
Now that we've established the importance of filter maintenance, we should also point out that answering the question "How often should I change my air filter?" there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some need to be replaced every 30 to 60 days. Others can last from 6 months to a year.
The answer depends on factors like how often you use the system, the type of filter, whether you have pets in the house, and your personal habits like having smokers in the house, using a wood-burning fireplace, and more. . For your comfort and well-being, and potentially to help you save money in the long run, regular inspections and filter replacement should be part of your routine.air conditioning maintenance.
Types of air filters
The general recommendation for how often to change air filters can range from every 30 days to every year. Two of the determining factors for the useful life of a filter are the type and quality of the filter used.
- fiberglass filter:Fiberglass filters are usually the cheapest option. They are usually about 1 inch thick and provide basic filtration. They are disposable filters that should be checked and probably changed every 30 days.
- Polyester/pleated filters:Pleated filters are available in different widths, but all of them are typically more effective at removing airborne contaminants than standard fiberglass. The 4 inch wide pleated filters provide much better filtration compared to standard fiberglass types and even the 1 inch pleated versions. These filters also have a much larger surface area and can be left in place from 3 months to a full year before cleaning or replacing.
- Washable air filters:Washable filters are less common. In fact, they become more effective at filtering as airborne particles accumulate on their surface. Rather than being replaced, these filters are removed, cleaned and put back into the system.
For each of the above filter types, you can compare their effectiveness by checking their MERV rating. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a rating of a filter's ability to trap airborne particles as well as its ability to allow adequate airflow. MERV ratings can range from 1 to 16, with 16 providing the best filtering.
Factors that affect how often the air filter is replaced
The lifespan of an air filter is also affected by the occupants of the home and the characteristics of the home itself. Since an air filter is one of the home's first lines of defense against pollutants and allergens, it's important to have an idea of how your home and your actions could affect your filter replacement schedule.
Your activities and the location of your home can affect indoor air quality. Some examples that can reduce indoor air quality include:
- smoking at home
- burning scented candles
- Using a Fireplace or Wood Stove
- Use of personal hygiene products and cleaning agents.
- Location close to new buildings
- Poor outdoor air quality/pollution
If one or more of the above apply to your home, a good answer to "how often should you replace your air filter" is "at least once every 30 days".
asthma or allergies
If you have allergy sufferers in your home or people with asthma, you know that these people can be more sensitive to airborne particles such as dust mites, pollen and mold spores. Select a good quality filter with 12 – 16 MERV to remove a high percentage of harmful particles. Make sure you check your filter at least once a month.
pets at home
With pets in the home, how often the air filters should be changed will depend on several factors, including the number, size and length of the pet's fur. Pet dander and dander increase the volume of airborne materials that must be captured by an air filter. Pets can also bring more bacteria, viruses, bugs, dirt and dust into the home. The frequency of filter checks and how often the air filter should be replaced shouldn't vary too much if you only have one pet living in your home. In that case, follow the recommendations provided by the filter manufacturer. With multiple pets in the home, we recommend checking the filter more frequently, at least once every 30 days.
The HVAC system in a larger home will circulate greater volumes of air and therefore trap greater volumes of airborne particles in its filter. This means that air filters in larger homes need to be checked, cleaned and replaced more often than those in smaller homes.
How often do you use the unit
The more often a heating and cooling system is used, the more air will be pumped through the air filter and the more contaminants will be stirred up and trapped. If the house has a mild climate and the air conditioner is used infrequently, it may not be necessary to change the air filter as often. The same goes for vacation homes. An air filter in a summer house can last much longer than that in an ordinary residential house due to infrequent use.
The opposite is true for air conditioners that are used more than average or if the customer uses continuous ventilation mode. In the heat of the Florida summer, when the air conditioner is on all the time, you may need to change the filter more often than recommended.
Ultimately, deciding how often to check, clean, or replace the air filter in your HVAC system is up to you. Understanding all the variables involved will help you make a good decision.
Find an air conditioning maintenance professional near you
If you want help with the maintenance of your air conditioning, you can always make an appointment. Your placeCarrier HVAC Dealeroffers the expertise you need to properly diagnose and repair your AC system.
Contact a Carrier HVAC dealer
What happens when you don't change the air filter in your house? ›
A dirty filter reduces the airflow to your HVAC system and causes it to work harder. It uses more energy, which costs you more money. It also might not be able to keep your home at the proper temperature. This means it may have to run for longer periods, which strains the system.How often should I change the filter in my HVAC system? ›
- 1-inch and 2-inch air filters should be replaced about every one to three months.
- 3-inch and 4-inch filters require replacement after six to nine months.
- 5-inch and 6-inch air filters need a change after nine months to one year.
They generally need to be changed every 30 days or less. Pleated air filters are more expensive at the outset, but they are also more efficient at trapping particles and can last up to 90 days, depending on use.What happens if you wait too long to change air filter? ›
As the system is working harder to get around clogged air filters, it can cause the entire system to overwork and eventually break. If this happens, you'll need to replace the entire system, which can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000.How do I know if my air filter is too dirty? ›
A filter that is clogged with dirt is an obvious sign of a dirty air filter. Performing a visual inspection is an easy way to know if your air filter needs to be changed. A brand new air filter is white or off-white in color, while a dirty air filter will appear darker with the dirt and debris visible.Can I clean my home air filter instead of replacing it? ›
Check to see if you have an electrostatic air filter and make sure it's washable. If not, you will need to replace it when it wears out. Many disposable air conditioner filters should be replaced rather than cleaned, as cleaning with water can lead to possible mold issues.Can I clean my air filter instead of replacing it? ›
Your first instinct might be to replace a dirty air filter, but cleaning it can extend its life and save you some money in the long run. A cabin air filter lasts about a year without cleaning, so if you decide to clean it quarterly using a vacuum and cloth, you can extend its life by about six months.How long is an air filter good for in house? ›
As a general rule, you'll want to replace pleated air filters and furnace filters in your home every 90 days. The longer the filter is in place, the more dirt, dust and allergens are trapped clogging the filter and decreasing their efficiency.Do you have to turn off AC before changing filter? ›
For safety, turn off your HVAC unit before attempting to change the furnace filter. If you can't figure out how to turn off the unit, turn off the breaker.What filters need to be changed in a house? ›
In general, replace HEPA filters every 12 to 18 months, carbon filters every three to six months, wick filters every two months, and mineral absorption pads every two to three weeks. Many air purifiers have an indicator that will tell you when to check the filter — though keep in mind, they're hardly foolproof.
Does dirty air filter affect HVAC? ›
A clogged furnace air filter will negatively affect the airflow throughout your house and HVAC system. The lack of fresh air in your furnace will cause the heat exchanger to become too warm and deactivate. Dirty filters indirectly cause short cycling issues and will make it hard to keep your home warm.How fast does an air filter get dirty? ›
These types of air filters are generally designed to last for 30 days. Therefore, if you notice that your air filters are gathering dirt fast, it may be due to the inexpensive and low-quality air filters you're buying.Should I run air filter 24 7? ›
Because they force air through their filters to clean it, leaving an air purifier on consistently is the only way to maintain the highest possible level of air quality in a room or home.How often should I change my AC vent? ›
If you have wall vents of standard sizes, it's a good idea to replace them once or twice a year. These covers are easily available and affordable. If your ceiling vent covers have already lasted 15 to 20 years, it's recommended that you replace them for better HVAC performance and air quality.Does changing air filter improve air quality? ›
In addition, research shows that filtration can be an effective supplement to source control and ventilation. Using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can help to improve indoor air quality.Does changing home air filter improve performance? ›
Last but certainly not least, regularly changing your air filters helps your HVAC system perform more efficiently! If you've noticed your home not cooling or heating as well, as usual, check the filter before calling an HVAC contractor.Why did my air filter get dirty so fast? ›
When the thermostat's fan setting is set to “ON” the indoor blower will run 24/7, constantly circulating air over the air filter. So now the filter is constantly catching airborne contaminants, causing it to quickly get dirty. Furthermore, your energy bills are higher because running a blower nonstop isn't cheap.Is no air filter better than a dirty one? ›
Running your air conditioner without a filter is worse than running it with a dirty one. Instead, get to the store as soon as possible for a replacement or call an HVAC professional for replacement. Without a filter, your air conditioner is at risk for severe and expensive problems.How do you deep clean an air filter? ›
If you need to provide a deep clean, soak the filter in a flat bin with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part warm water for an hour, and then rinse it gently with the hose. Never use a pressurized cleaner on an air filter; they're simply too delicate for any high-pressure hose.Will cleaning my AC filter make it colder? ›
Q: Does cleaning the AC filter make it colder? In a sense, yes. A clogged AC filter can trap cold air inside the air conditioning unit, preventing it from circulating through the ductwork and into the home. Replacing the filter improves that air flow, thereby allowing colder air to make its way inside.
Can you manually clean an air filter? ›
Using a faucet or garden hose, rinse the filter from both sides, starting from the interior towards the exterior to prevent pushing dirt further into the fibers of the filter. Avoid wringing or stretching the filter – they can tear easily. Rinse until the water runs clear. Repeat the process if necessary.Why is my furnace filter never dirty? ›
If the filter is not installed correctly, then the air can flow around the filter and not into it. When that happens, the filter won't get dirty because all that air isn't going anywhere near it.Should you have an air filter in every room? ›
In Summary: Do You Require An Air Purifier In Each Room? No, not at all. You simply need enough to cover the space in the rooms that you'll be spending the most of your time in or that have air quality issues.How often should you wash your air filter? ›
As a general rule, you should clean your air conditioner filters within the indoor unit every two weeks. In more dusty or polluted environments you should clean your filters more regularly.What happens when air filter is dirty in house? ›
A clogged or dirty air filter can spread contaminants such as dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander instead of catching them. It can also restrict your system's airflow, forcing it to work harder and use more energy. Clogged air filters can dirty your ductwork and leave lots of extra dust throughout your home.Can a dirty air filter cause problems? ›
A dirty air filter decreases the amount of air supplied to the engine. This can lead to an increase in unburned fuel that turns into soot residue. Soot can mound up on the spark plug tips making them unable to deliver a proper spark. In return, the car can jerk, idle, and in some circumstances, the engine can misfire.Can a dirty air filter cause health problems? ›
If the filter's dirty, everything past the filter is dirty too, including the air you breathe. This pumps your home full of dust and allergens. Speaking of allergens, they can cause a number of physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, tightness in your chest, and a mess of cold symptoms you may not be able to shake.Can a dirty filter cause AC to not cool? ›
Dirty air filters cause your AC to operate at a lower efficiency which means it does not cool your house as well as it should, and can end up costing you more money in the long run.How do I clean my AC air filter at home? ›
If you need to provide a deep clean, soak the filter in a flat bin with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part warm water for an hour, and then rinse it gently with the hose. Never use a pressurized cleaner on an air filter; they're simply too delicate for any high-pressure hose.Can you wash a dirty air filter? ›
Using a faucet or garden hose, rinse the filter from both sides, starting from the interior towards the exterior to prevent pushing dirt further into the fibers of the filter. Avoid wringing or stretching the filter – they can tear easily. Rinse until the water runs clear. Repeat the process if necessary.