A common question we have been asked recently is how frequently HVAC air filters need to be changed. This is due to the recent air pollution from the Canadian forest fires and the lack of rain during allergy season. To help answer this question, we have to start by explaining the basics of HVAC air filters.
Air Filters 101
For starters, what is a HVAC air filter? A HVAC air filter, like the lint trap in your dryer, is a filter that collects dust, dirt and other microscopic particles that are circulating in your home’s air. When you turn on your heating or air conditioning system, the air filter collects the dirt and dust particles to help protect your HVAC system and to clean the air in your home. Once the air filter becomes too full of dust and dirt, your HVAC unit needs to work harder to keep the air flowing throughout your system which results in your monthly energy bills increasing.
There are three main types of air filters:
- 1” Standard Air Filter
- 4” Media Filter
- Electronic Air Cleaner (EAC)
While all these filters essentially serve the same purpose, the maintenance required for each varies. Please see below for our recommendations on how frequently you should change or clean your HVAC air filters:
- 1” Standard Air Filter: We recommend checking and changing these air filters once a month. Occasionally these air filters can last up to 90 days.
- 4” Media Filter: We recommend checking and changing these air filters every six months. One time at the beginning of the air conditioning season, and one time at the beginning of the heat season.
- Electronic Air Cleaner (EAC): We recommend checking and cleaning EACs every six months. One time at the beginning of the air conditioning season, and one time at the beginning of the heat season.
There are certain scenarios that can factor into how frequently you have to change or clean your HVAC air filters. This list includes, but is not limited to:
- Pets living in the house
- Number of people residing in the house
- Smokers living in the house
- Living in an area with large amounts of pollen bearing trees
- Allergy sufferers living in the house
How to Change Air Filters
Furthermore, it is important to understand how to change the HVAC air filters in your system. In newer air conditioning and heating systems, the air filters are located close to the blower motor. To change an air filter:
- Locate the air filter in your HVAC system
- Remove the box or cover holding the air filter into place
- Take out the dirty air filter
- Discard the dirty air filter in a trash can or trash bag to contain the dirt and dust
- Take new air filter out of packaging
- Insert new air filter with the air flow arrow pointing towards the blower motor
It is critical to write down the date that the air filter was changed or cleaned so you know when to change or clean it next. A simple way to remember this date is to set a reminder in your calendar on the 1st of every month to “Check or Replace Your Air Filter”. For 4” Media Filters or EACs, we recommend setting a reminder every 4-6 months on the 1st of the month. Another helpful trick is to write the date the air filter was installed or cleaned on the side of the new air filter before putting it in the HVAC system.
Changing or cleaning your HVAC air filters on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining your HVAC system. Not only does a clean air filter help reduce the energy it takes to run your HVAC system, but it also improves the indoor air quality as well. Our technicians change the air filters when we come out to perform our bi-annual cleanings of your air conditioning and heating systems. If you have not had your HVAC system cleaned yet this season, please call our office at 610-642-6323 to get on our calendar or visit us on our website at www.bobsredtrucks.com.