Every once in a while we’re asked what is the number one thing that Nashville area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? The answer is simple this; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is critical to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, plus your home's air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not all that hard for most Nashville homeowners, but there are often two challenges to actually getting it done:
- Determining just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a printed "expiration" date on the wrapping. It may instruct "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Look around at the store and you'll notice that some are meant to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every few months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our customers to go by. If they're dirty, change them! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to expensive parts, like your compressor, so it's better to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and setting a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Keep in mind that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Determining how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The overall air quality of your Nashville area home
- Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
- Number of people in the home
- General air pollution in the Nashville area or construction taking place nearby
For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is actually a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren't always for everybody. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you might require an upgraded air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, annual replacement of your air filter may be quite sufficient. Why should you factor in your pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter in no time, just like a vacuum. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.
- Vacation home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- Got a cat or dog: Change every 60 days
- Several pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner's Air Filters
It's simple; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. This is a convenient way to get money-saving discounts and other helpful information on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Nashville area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.
How to replace your return air filter
Most people know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some residences have an extra filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your unit is made to handle a maximum amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can shorten the life expectancy of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is a piece of cake:
- Find your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to pull off the wall.
- Look for a filter. If one is there, pull it out and note the size.
- Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
- If filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer's recommended filter of the same size and type.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can greatly alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend referring to the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch smaller particles will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you need to verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience lowered heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may break down much faster than otherwise.