Need the fast answer? Check out our FAQ on "How often to change the air filter".
Occassionally we’re asked what is the number one thing that Tempe area homeowner's can do to secure their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? Our advice is simple; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, as well as your home's air quality. Did you know indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? We know it's the last thing on your mind, but this is really important stuff. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most Tempe homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually completing this job:
- Determining just how often to swap out your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a recommended guideline on the wrapping. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Check out the filters at the store and you'll notice that some are engineered to only last one month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be exchanged once every 6-12 months. The norm seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we suggest our readers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to expensive components, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than not. If you want to listen to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and programming a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Deciding how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The collective air quality of your Tempe area home
- Pets – Dogs, cats, etc.
- Occupancy of the home
- The level of air pollution and construction around the home
For the common 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically say to change them every 30-60 days, which is actually a great rule of thumb. Still, general guidelines are not applicable to all. 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 less populated 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 do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause seriously reduced HVAC performance.
- Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Average suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- House with a pet: 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
Orangutan Home Services offers a simple solution; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. When you do, you can elect to receive (or not) great email coupons and newsletters with a lot of tips and discounts on AC repairs and tune-ups. Also, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Tempe 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 unit, but some homes have an additional filter in the return ductwork. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit's manufacturer recommends. Your HVAC is designed to handle a certain amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can decrease the lifespan of your system if it isn't designed for it. Discovering whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
- Go to 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 record 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 really alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier particles will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was made to handle it. Otherwise, you may experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may die off much faster than otherwise.