Top 5 things to know about changing AC filters

Top 5 Things To Know About Changing AC Filters

Some of the top questions we get from customers are about changing AC filters.  People are always asking, what type of filter should I use, how often should I change my AC filter, how do I know if it needs changing? In this blog we will cover the top 5 things you need to know about your AC filter to make the best decision possible for you and your air conditioner.

  1. The Importance of your AC Filter
  2. The Basics
  3. Signs Its time to Change
  4. How Often to Change
  5. Benefits of Changing Regularly

1.  The Importance of your AC Filter

The air filter is an essential component of an AC system and plays a critical role in maintaining indoor air quality. It prevents dust, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants from circulating in the air and getting into your lungs. Properly maintaining and cleaning air filters will help maintain your indoor air quality, keep your AC system running efficiently and prolong its lifespan.

2. The Basics of AC Filters

Filter Types

There are three main types of air filters for AC systems:

Disposable filters are the most common and affordable option, and they need to be replaced regularly.

Washable filters are reusable and can be washed with water and soap, making them a more environmentally friendly option.

Electrostatic filters are washable and use static electricity to attract and trap airborne particles.

MERV Ratings

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a rating system that measures how effectively an air filter can capture and filter out particles of different sizes. MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, with higher numbers indicating greater efficiency in trapping smaller particles. A filter with a MERV rating of 8 or above is generally recommended for residential AC systems.

Size & Compatability

It’s essential to choose an air filter that is the right size and compatible with your AC unit. Using the wrong size filter can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of your AC system. Most filters have their dimensions printed on the frame, and it’s crucial to check your AC unit’s manual or consult an HVAC professional to ensure compatibility. Additionally, some AC units require specific types of filters, so it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

3.  Signs that it's Time to Change Your AC Filter

Reduced airflow

One of the most common signs that it's time to change your AC filter is reduced airflow. If you notice that the airflow coming from your vents is weaker than usual, it may be because your air filter is clogged and preventing air from passing through.

Dust and debris buildup

If you see dust and debris buildup on or around your air vents, it may be an indication that your air filter is not doing its job effectively. The filter's job is to capture and trap these particles, so if they are accumulating on your vents, it may be time to replace your filter.

Strange odors

Another sign that your air filter needs changing is if you notice strange odors coming from your AC system. This can be due to mold or bacteria growth on a dirty filter, which can produce a musty or foul smell.

Higher energy bills

If your energy bills have been increasing without a clear explanation, it could be because your AC system is working harder than necessary due to a dirty or clogged air filter. A clean filter ensures efficient airflow, and a clogged one can lead to your AC system working harder and using more energy.

Allergy or respiratory symptoms

If you or someone in your household is experiencing allergy or respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or wheezing, it may be due to poor indoor air quality. A dirty air filter can contribute to poor air quality and exacerbate these symptoms, indicating a need for a filter change.

4. How Often to Change Your AC Filter

General guidelines

There are general guidelines for how often you should change your AC filter, but the frequency can vary based on different factors such as the filter type, the amount of time your system operates, and environmental factors. For disposable filters, it's recommended to change them every one to three months. Washable filters should be cleaned every one to three months and replaced every year or two. Electrostatic filters should be washed every one to three months and can last up to eight years.

Environmental Factors that affect filter lifespan

Several factors can affect how long your AC filter lasts, including the number of pets in the home, the presence of allergies, smoking indoors, and the level of air pollution in the surrounding environment. Homes with pets or smokers will likely need to change or clean their filters more frequently to maintain clean indoor air quality.

How to check and replace your filter

To check your filter, turn off your AC system and locate the air filter in the air handler unit or return air duct. Remove the filter and inspect it for visible dirt, dust, or debris. If the filter appears dirty, it's time to replace or clean it. To replace a disposable filter, simply remove the old one and insert the new one. For washable filters, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and replacing. Electrostatic filters should be washed and recharged with a specialized cleaner. It's essential to turn off your AC system before changing or cleaning your filter to avoid any potential hazards.

5. Benefits of Changing Your AC Filter Regularly

Improved indoor air quality

Regularly changing your AC filter helps improve indoor air quality by reducing the amount of dust, dirt, and other pollutants that circulate throughout your home. This can be especially important for people with allergies or respiratory issues, as cleaner air can help alleviate symptoms.

Longer lifespan for your AC unit

A clean air filter can help your AC unit operate more efficiently, reducing the strain on the system and extending its lifespan. When your AC unit doesn't have to work as hard to circulate air through a clean filter, it can prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the system's components.

Energy savings

A dirty or clogged air filter can cause your AC unit to work harder and use more energy to maintain the desired temperature in your home. By regularly changing your AC filter, you can help your system operate more efficiently and reduce your energy usage, which can lead to lower energy bills.

Cost savings

By extending the lifespan of your AC unit and reducing your energy usage, regularly changing your AC filter can help save you money in the long run. It can also help you avoid costly repairs or replacements due to damage caused by a dirty filter. Regular filter changes are a small investment that can lead to significant cost savings over time.

In summary, changing your AC filter on a regular basis is a critical part of maintaining the performance of your system. Follow these guidelines to determine how often to change your filter and enjoy improved indoor air quality, energy savings, and a longer lifespan for your AC system.

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