Any homeowner will agree that homeownership includes a lot of maintenance on a regular basis. If some of these tasks or maintenance items are left unattended too, they can lead to a home system not running as smoothly as intended. One maintenance item that should not be overlooked is changing the filter on your home’s HVAC system. This is a simple and inexpensive task, and should be taken care of at least every three months.
Types of Filters
A majority of HVAC and furnace filters are disposable and are designed to capture or trap as much airborne debris as possible. Filters can typically be purchased in a bulk multi-pack, and there are lots of different types and sizes that will fit the different models of furnace/HVAC units. It’s also very important that the correct type and size filter is purchased for your particular unit. Using the wrong size or type of filter can also create problems as having a dirty filter. Ask your helpful HVAC technician or installer to show you exactly where the filter goes and how to remove and install a new one. You might want to go a step further and have your HVAC technician or yourself write the filter size that your furnace requires on the side of the furnace. Here are just a few of the different types of filters that can be purchased.
Fiberglass Filters – these are the most common types of air filters due to the affordable options on the market.
- Price: A fiberglass filter is one of the cheapest options out there.
- Effective: These filters do a great job when it comes to dust and lint.
- Not an air purifier: These aren’t great at capturing smaller particles. This means they don’t do much to clean your air. In short, they just protect your HVAC system.
- Not the best choice for breathing issues: If a family member has allergies or asthma, you might want to consider a different kind of air filter.
- Clogged easily: These filters easily become clogged with dirt, dust and debris so it’s important to change these regularly.
Pleated Air Filters – these have more surface area which allow for better filtration and are good at handling things like mold spores and pet dander. These filters tend to be on the more expensive side.
- Better filtration: These filters have more surface area which allow for better filtration. Pleated filters are also good at handling things like mold spores and pet dander.
- Replace less often: They last longer than most fiberglass filters and it’s possible to recycle used filters.
- Pricey: They are more expensive.
- Reduced Airflow: Over time, this may mean your home’s HVAC system loses efficiency.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters – HEPA filters are those with a MERV rating of 16 or higher. Most homes don’t need this level of production. They can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles, including mold and other allergens as tiny as 0.3 microns.
- Effective at cleaning the air: HEPA filters are a great way to clean air indoors. Allowing family members to breathe easier.
- Cost-effective: It can be years before you need to replace one of these filters
- Must be adjusted specifically to your HVAC system: Only recommended for family members with severe breathing problems.
- Can’t protect against everything: Odors, fumes and gasses are no match for HEPA filters.
- Expensive upfront investment.
Electrostatic Filters – these use a mixture of fibers to create static electricity. This helps to attract dust and dirt particles. These filters are a great choice for those who need to combat allergens.
- Cost-effective: You can cut costs with reusable ones.
- Effective at improving air quality: These filters can remove most pollutants from your air.
- May struggle with large particles: They do great with small pollutants. But when it comes to dust and mold spores, they aren’t as effective. These are not great options for those with breathing problems.
How Often to Change HVAC Filters?
Typically HVAC units will tend to be used year-round. With that said homeowners should change these filters every three months, but possibly more often.
Change your filter once a month if:
- You run your unit six months a year to year-round.
- You have pets. Pet dander or hair can become airborne and can get into your home’s ventilation system.
- You have a large family. The more activity in a home means more dust, dirt and debris.
- You smoke indoors.
- Your household suffers from allergies or respiratory problems.
- You have a fireplace that you use on a regular basis.
- You live on or near a working farm or ranch.
- There is construction taking place around or near your home.
Change your filter right away if:
- You notice the filter is damaged. Damaged filters that have bent fins, collapsed cells or holes will not work as well.
- If your filter is damp. Filters affected by moisture, condensation or even high indoor humidity can become moldy and can spread those mold spores throughout your home.
- If you already notice microbial growth or mold on your filter. Mold spores that are circulating inside your home through the HVAC system can pose a health hazard for your family.
Tips on how to Change your Filter
- Make sure to turn off your unit before changing the filter.
- Use the right size and type filter for your unit and make sure it is not damaged.
- Make sure to install the filter properly so that it is not installed backwards.
- If there are gaps around the filter frame, you may have the wrong size filter.
- Clean up any dust with a rag before and after you change out the filter.
- Replace any levels, gaskets or seals.
- When turning on your unit make sure the filter stays in place.
We hope these maintenance tips came in handy for you and your family. Remember those who take care of these easy tasks can help prevent system downtime and avoidable expenses. Not to mention helping their family breathing comfortably.