How Often Should You Need to Change Your Air Conditioner Filter? The answer isn’t the same for everyone.
One of the best things for keeping your home’s AC unit in San Antonio running smooth is to change your air filter on a regular basis. This keeps everything inside your air conditioning system much cleaner, keeps your energy bills low and will greatly extend the life of your HVAC system. Unfortunately for most homeowners, changing your air filter is easily forgotten for months at a time, leading to higher energy bills and future maintenance issues.
Remember how tough it was to breathe through a mask at first? Imagine, that’s how your AC unit feels trying to breathe through a dirty filter – it’s literally suffocating and using extra electricity that costs you money on your electric bill is just the beginning.
But how often should you change your air filter? Well, it depends. Here are some everyday rules and recommendations to help you figure out how often is best for your HVAC system.
How Often Should I Change My Home AC Air Filters?
Generally, you should change your air filter in your home every 30 days when using less expensive fiberglass filters a.k.a. “pebble catchers.” Those are the filters that look like a bunch of strings stretched across the frame of the filter. 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. This is typical in the late fall or winter when your AC or heating system rarely comes on.
Through the rest of the year, spring, summer and early fall, when it’s hot outside, you’ll want to replace pleated air filters and furnace filters in your home at a minimum of every 90 days but perhaps every other month. The longer the filter is in place, the more dirt, dust and allergens are trapped clogging the filter and decreasing their efficiency.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Read the questions below, and see if you’ll want to replace your filter more frequently than what’s recommended in general.
Does anyone in your house have allergies? Does anyone in your home have asthma?
According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, outdoor air can contain harmful pollution and pollen, but indoor air can actually be worse than outdoor air. If there is an asthmatic or allergy sufferer in your home, they are much more sensitive to substances indoors than those that don’t suffer from those conditions. If this is the case, you’ll want to change your filter every 6 weeks to keep your indoor air quality at its best.
Do you have any pets?
If you are a cat or dog owner you know all too well that odor can build up after time and that shedding is at its worst during the change of seasons. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll want to change your air filter every month, especially if you have more than one pet. Our four-legged friends shed a lot of hair and dander (dead skin cells) that can torture allergy and asthma sufferers if you don’t change your AC filters very often.
Do you have younger children?
When you have young children in your home, you want to keep your indoor air quality at its best to help prevent air quality issues that can lead to illness. To keep your air quality under control and your home clean, you’ll want to replace your filter at a minimal interval of every 60 to 90 days.
Conditions That Can Affect the Lifespan of your HVAC Air Filter:
How often you use your heating and cooling system?
In the San Antonio climate, our AC systems run at almost 100% capacity three seasons out of four – winter is the only time when our Air Conditioners aren’t cranking away 24 hours a day to keep our homes cool. During the peak of summer, it’s recommended that you change your air filters out every 30 days to a) keep the inside of your AC system and your air ducts as clean as possible and b) make sure that your HVAC unit can breathe properly and not have to use “extra” electricity to keep your home cool. Yes, a nice, clean AC filter that lets the maximum amount of air flow through will draw less amps to run and cool your home. In everyday terms, this means your AC unit uses more electricity to cool your home with a dirty filter than with a nice clean AC filter.
The size of your house
If you live in a “smaller home” such as 1,200 square feet or less, your air conditioners and heaters are required to pump less air for the same amount of temperature change, which could mean fewer filter changes. However, the smaller the AC Unit to cool the small space often come with smaller filters, therefore you may need to change the filter as often as a filter in a larger home. If you have the usual 16X20 or larger filter, it’s not considered a small filter and doesn’t meet this little rule.
The air quality in your home
Your air filter’s and furnace filter’s replacement cycle is also affected by the air outside and within your home. If you have poor air quality outside or pets inside, you’ll need to replace your air filter more frequently. Let’s talk about poor air quality OUTSIDE your home. If you live close to highway 281 or Loop 1604 where the roads are under construction, you have the poorest quality of outside air. Why? All of that construction dust literally turns trees in the immediate area gray. That alone should show you how hard your AC unit has to work to provide cool, CLEAN air for you inside. But there’s also all of the exhaust from construction equipment and exhaust from the traffic sitting there. I’ll bet you didn’t think of that, did ya? And, as long as we’re waiting for good ole Elon Musk to make us some electric bulldozers, your AC system has a lot of work to do. So let it breathe already with fresh new AC filters!
Besides all of the stuff in the outside air and inside are, How Can I Tell When To Change My HVAC Air Filter?
All of the air that circulates through your HVAC system, to either heat or cool your home, will eventually pass through the air filter. This is why it is so VERY important to keep your air filters clean and change them regularly. Dirty, clogged air filters can:
-Cause HVAC system malfunctions and equipment damage. We’ve seen blower motor fans CAKED with dust and many have to be replaced!
-Reduce airflow inside the HVAC system, making the fans work harder, causing your system to break down more often.
-NOT remove dust, pollen, particles and pet dander as effectively as they should, releasing these back into your indoor air – the air that you and your family breath.
-Cause contaminates to built up in your duct work.
Cause the HVAC equipment to work harder, increasing your home’s energy usage and your monthly CPS bill.
Air filters and furnace filters should be checked at least once a month. If they are dirty they should be changed with a fresh clean air filter. When removing the air filter from the air-handler, if you hold it up to a light source you will be able to see if the filter is dirty or clogged – if you can’t see the light through the filter, then it’s definitely time for it to be changed.
If you need service on your Air Conditioning or assistance with your AC filters, call the HVAC pros at Caliente Plumbing Heating & Air today.