You Should Change Your HVAC Filter More Often - Here's How (2023)

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You Should Change Your HVAC Filter More Often - Here's How (1)

You probably have a lothomemade DIYon your list, but if you're looking for something more productive, now is a good time to replace your HVAC (aka heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) filter. In fact, you're probably overdue for a new one! And spring is actually one of the best times to make sure you have a new filter.

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If you're new to maintaining your HVAC system, don't worry -Beautiful housecalled an expert for help:Patrick Van Deventer, Product Manager atTrane living, indoor air quality. Here's his advice on changing air filters, some info on why it's important and how often you need to do it, and steps to do it yourself — and of course, when to call in a pro.

Why changing your HVAC filter is important

Air filters are only meant to last a certain amount of time (or less, but more on that later!), so make a note of this date when you install it.

“[Not changing your filter soon] can have adverse effects on your HVAC system and your comfort,” explains Van Deventer. "If it takes too long, the filters can overload and collapse, and that can be really bad because you might not know it. It can get stuck in your fan or create a big gap where the air just bypasses the filter and it's not there. "Filtered at that point."If your filter doesn't actually filter, it can affect your health and cause breathing problems, especially for people with allergies or asthma.

You Should Change Your HVAC Filter More Often - Here's How (2)

How often should you change your filter

Follow the instructions but do it sooner.

When you buy a new filter, it says on the box how long it should last.But don't wait until that date to change it!Van Deventer says you should take that date as the "absolute maximum" and change the filter even sooner.

"Basically, most of these filters work by having a porous media that traps the particles and blocks the flow of air," he explains. In fact, they filter a little better the longer they sit. But [after a while] it also starts restricting the airflow in your system] which can cause other problems.

Consider things that can affect air quality.

"Any time you notice more pollutants or particles in the air, that's a good time to change your filter," says Van Deventer. Allergy and flu seasons, for example, are good times to switch to high performance filters! And if you're having any type of home renovation, it can kick up more dust and dirt than usual.

(Video) Furnace Air Filter - How to Change It Properly

"I'd say if there's any type of home renovation where there's drywall -- that's a big problem that sometimes people don't realize it gets sucked into the air return and immediately blocks the filter," he notes. "I would also say that the summer months are a good time when you have pets and they are shedding a lot more fur than usual."

If you need a way to remember, here's a smart tip:"Any time you need to vacuum a lot more, that would be a good indication that you also need to check your filter a lot more often," he said.diz Van Deventer.

Consider seasonal changes.

In the spring and fall, when it's relatively mild outside, the air conditioning and heating may not work, so you may not have the system turned on. “Most thermostats have the option to run the fan on a schedule or continuously, so your entire HVAC system doesn't come on to cool or heat the house, but still runs the fan regularly to keep the air ventilated switch,” explains Van Deventer.

“Now, in the spring, it is mid-season. Since there are then many allergens, you want to avoid stagnant air in the house and pass it through the filter.”

How to change your air filter

It's actually a pretty simple process, so it might be easier than you think.

  1. Make sure your system is powered off before doing anything!
  2. Locate your air filter.This is likely where your return loop (where air is drawn back into your system from your house) will be in either the wall or ceiling with a mesh cover. If not, that's where your air handling unit is, usually in a closet, basement, or attic - you'll find a small box where air enters the unit.
  3. Depending on the system, remove the grille or open the case.If you have a grille, most have tabs that you can open so you can access the filter without a screwdriver.
  4. Find the filter inside.The filter should have the size printed on it, or at least a model number that you can look up to identify it. Be sure to buy a filter of the same size.
  5. Remove the dirty filter and check for problems.For example, if it's too dirty, that's a sign you should change it more often. You should also look for gaps in the filter, which could indicate your filter isn't big enough or needs a gasket to fit properly.
  6. Insert the new filter and replace the grid or cover.Now it can start! Just mark the date on your calendar so you know when to watch next.

Purchase of a new HVAC filter

You already know that you can refer to the information printed on your current filter to find the right size filter. But if you're not sure whatTypWhen it comes to buying filters, Van Deventer has some tips.

Nordic Pure Allergen MERV 12 Pleated Air Filters - FPR 9 (Pack of 6)

You Should Change Your HVAC Filter More Often - Here's How (3)

(Video) How often should I change my furnace filter? [TEASER]

Nordic Pure Allergen MERV 12 Pleated Air Filters - FPR 9 (Pack of 6)

"I suggest not using the cheapest option."he explains. "So there's these little blue or green fiber filters - they really don't do much, I'd look to get a good quality pleated filter instead."

Essentially, you want to look for a pleated filter that has a sturdy wire mesh to support it so it doesn't fall apart. They also want it to have a high MERV rating, Van Deventer adds. (MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Report Value, FYI.)

"A good quality filter will have a MERV above eight or nine, which means it filters out a lot more of those smaller particles that can cause allergies and other problems," he says.

If you are not sure and do not feel comfortable choosing a new filter yourself, you can always consult a professional to help you.

You Should Change Your HVAC Filter More Often - Here's How (4)

Close up of a pleated air filter.

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When to call a professional

Van Deventer says you don't need to call in a professional as long as you can find and change the filter yourself and don't notice any symptoms that could be related to indoor air quality. Regardless of whether you are a professional in the filter trade or not at this point,It's a good idea to have your system checked by an HVAC professional twice a year.This must be done before the cooling season and before the heating season.

And of course, while they're running a system check, they can also replace your filters.

If you have air quality concerns, this is also a good time to hire a professional as it could mean you need to upgrade your system. "If you're still seeing a lot of dust everywhere, you're still having trouble breathing, or you have someone with asthma, you may need to upgrade your air filtration system," he adds.

As for setting theTo the rightProfessional, Van Deventer suggests looking for an HVAC contractor with good reviews online: “A reputable HVAC contractor has a variety of solutions to offer and can come to your home and do an initial assessment of how to upgrade your system. "

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How often should HVAC filters be changed? ›

Generally, most air filter manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend changing your air filter every 90 days, or 3 months. That can change based on where your home is located (ex. dusty, dry climates), if you have any pets, and the age of your system and equipment.

Do you really need to change furnace filter every 3 months? ›

In general, this is how often changing furnace filters needs to be done: For 1- to 2-inch filters, replace them every 1 to 3 months. For 3- to 4-inch filters, replace them every 6 to 9 months. For 5- to 6-inch filters, replace them every 9 to 12 months.

How do I know if my HVAC air filter needs to be replaced? ›

5 Signs Your Air Filter Needs to Be Replaced
  1. Dust and Dirt Around Vents. Dust and dirt collecting around AC vents may be caused by a clogged air filter. ...
  2. The Filter Looks Dirty or Clogged. ...
  3. Rise in Electricity Bill. ...
  4. It Takes Longer to Heat or Cool Your Home. ...
  5. The AC Unit Is Hot.
Oct 30, 2020

Why should you have your air filter changed every six months? ›

Respiratory issues make you much more sensitive to airborne particles, so you should change air filter every six weeks to ensure your indoor air quality remains at its best. If you allow dander, dust, and other contaminants to accumulate on your air filter and find their way into your home, it can harm you.

What happens if you don't change HVAC filter? ›

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 do I know if my HVAC air filter is dirty? ›

One clever way to determine if the air filter is dirty is to do the "white sheet test." This involves hanging a clean white sheet approximately 5 inches away from one of the vents for at least one hour. If the sheet turns gray, you've got a filthy air filter. The grayer the sheet, the dirtier the filter.

Why is my furnace filter so dirty every month? ›

That's because more air is cycled through your filter when your furnace goes through more heating cycles, so more contaminants get caught on the filter's media. The colder it gets outside, the faster your filter will get clogged with dirt.

Can I run my HVAC without a filter for one day? ›

No, you should never run your AC without a filter!

While your HVAC unit will run, it should never run without an air filter. Dirt is the number one cause of air conditioners breaking down, so running your unit without an installed air filters can cause serious damage.

Why is my furnace filter dirty after 2 weeks? ›

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.

Does changing HVAC air filter improve performance? ›

Improved HVAC System Efficiency. 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.

Is there really a difference in HVAC air filters? ›

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we advise using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system. All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

Can I change HVAC filter myself? ›

Open up your vent and remove the used filter. Make sure the Air Flow Arrows are pointing toward the HVAC Unit. Install the new filter and close your vent. Turn the unit on and you're done!

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.

Should I change my HVAC filter every month? ›

It is a general recommendation that you should change your air filter in your home every 30 days when using less expensive fiberglass filters. High-end pleated filters can last as long as 6 months, but these typical guidelines assume average use and don't take into account the size and type of filter.

How long can you run HVAC without filter? ›

The short answer: You can get away with running your AC without a filter for a short period of time. However, doing so for longer than 6-8 hours can hurt your system and decrease your home's indoor air quality.

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.

Can you wash and reuse HVAC filters? ›

Key Takeaways. Washable air conditioner filters are very easy to clean and maintain. Unlike disposable filters, you can simply take them out of your HVAC unit, rinse them with water, and they're good to go again.

Can you clean an HVAC air filter? ›

Wash the Filter

For a deeper cleaning, fill a sink with one part water and one part white vinegar, and then allow your HVAC filter to soak in the solution for one hour. Rinse it off with fresh water and let it fully dry before returning it to your AC unit.

What are the symptoms of a clogged air filter? ›

Continue reading to find out some warning signs that your air filter may be dirty and need to be replaced.
  • Poor Acceleration. ...
  • Poor Performing Engine. ...
  • Different and Strange Noises. ...
  • Check Engine Light. ...
  • Tailpipe Smoke. ...
  • Poor Gas Mileage.

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.

Will AC TURN OFF IF filter is dirty? ›

Over time, the air filter draws in pet dander, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. That's its job. However, if the fibers get too clogged with debris, the HVAC system can't pull air through the filter. Eventually, this can cause the system to shut down.

Why is my AC filter dirty after one day? ›

If you notice that your air filters get dirty very quickly, it might be due to the quality of the air filter you're buying. Cheaper air filters cost less because they are low quality. As a result, they have a shorter lifespan than high-performance air filters. Take for example a standard fiberglass air filter.

Why is my air filter black after one week? ›

Excess Amounts of Dirt and Debris – Including Soot

The more there is, the quicker your air filter will become clogged. If you don't regularly check your furnace filter often, the sheer amount of dirt could make the air filter black. This is especially true if you burn candles or have a fireplace.

Why is my AC filter black after one week? ›

Your air filter is black because of soot. Your air filter is black because of soot. This sounds scary, but, it's usually no big deal. The good news is that, if your filter is black with soot, it means it's doing its job.

Is it OK to run HVAC fan all day? ›

Running your furnace fan all the time isn't exactly a bad thing. In fact, there's no need to worry about the fan wearing out or breaking down because it's designed to run continuously, and there's an array of benefits connected to this. Here are some of them: Better circulation of heated and cooled air.

Is it better to leave the HVAC on all day? ›

Your AC will actually run longer overall if it is left on all day instead of being shut off. If you turn it off for part of the day, it runs less and results in more energy savings for you. In almost all cases, it will save you money to shut off your AC while you are away from home.

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.

Why is my house so dusty? ›

A buildup of dust in your home is often the result of poor airflow. A combination of poor airflow and infrequent cleaning can lead dust and dust mites to settle comfortably into several areas in your home. “Dust mites live in mattresses, pillows, and upholstery,” Dr. Cajigal says.

Why is my furnace filter black after one month? ›

Soot and Dirt

Filter furnaces capture air particles and other debris. Over time, they can become saturated with a thick layer of black soot, dust, and dirt. The longer you go without changing your filter, the more clogged your filter will become.

How fast should a furnace filter get dirty? ›

We recommend checking your furnace filter monthly and replacing at least every 3 months. Sometimes, though, that air filter can clog much faster than normal, causing performance and efficiency problems before you are even aware this is an issue.

What happens if you put an air filter in backwards? ›

By installing your filter backwards, air will have a harder time flowing through the filter and your air handler will have to work harder to make up for the loss of airflow. This could lead to higher utility bills and possibly damage your furnace or air conditioner.

Why does 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.

Why is my AC filter not getting dirty? ›

If the filter isn't picking up any dust, then it could mean a problem with your air conditioner. The air conditioner might not be strong enough to pick up the dust or be damaged. Check on the air conditioner to make sure that it isn't dirty or damaged, and run it for a bit before checking again.

Do you leave the cardboard on a furnace filter? ›

Remove plastic packaging and paper insert from filter, leaving cardboard frame intact. Find the airflow arrow and point it toward the AC/heat blower.

Are cheap air filters better? ›

Cheap filters don't last as long as the higher quality filters do, so they require replacing more often. Low-cost air filters are generally made of cardboard and paper. These products are cheap to produce, but they're far from durable.


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