A question like how often to change your air filter seems straightforward enough, but the answer can actually vary depending on numerous factors. To find out how often you need to change your air filter you need to ask yourself a few more questions first. Total HVAC Houston (greaterhoustonhvac.com) recommends thinking of things like “What kind of filter am I using?” or “What is the air quality in my home?” While these question might seem innocuous at first, they can result in a slew of different recommendations for when you should change out an HVAC filter.
What Are the Different Types of Air Filters?
There are roughly five types of air filters all with varying characteristics. Fiberglass is a new model that is known for its cheapness, while pleated polyester is more common. High-efficiency, HEPA, and washable filters can also be found as well.
Fiberglass is known for its super low price and is often the cheapest when compared to other filters. This mesh flat panel does have the disadvantage of collecting only 10% of all pollutants, thus not making it ideal for poor air quality conditions.
Pleasted polyester has a price point higher than the fiberglass ones but is well worth the buy. Their accordion-like shape allows for a much better filtration–about 45% of total particulates in the air, in fact. These are some of the most commonly bought filters because of their decent quality and price.
High-efficiency and HEPA filters share a similar name, but these filters have a couple differences. This is a result of HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) standards being set by the US Department of Energy. High-efficiency removes about 85% of particulates, while HEPA is as high as 97%.
On the surface, washable filters might seem great. All you have to do is wash them rather than buy new ones. The problem is that these filters grow mold and bacteria easily along with having a rock bottom filtration rating, making them around the same efficiency as fiberglass ones.
What Are Some Other Factors to Keep in Mind?
Obviously a home with poorer air quality is going to accumulate more debris in its filtration system, thus requiring a change of filters more often. How frequently your HVAC system is used, how many pets in your home, and a person’s allergies can all affect this.
A single person home will have to replace their air filter far less often than one with kids and pets. Pets, with all their fur, can fill your home with an excessive amount of dander and allergens that can clog up your filter in no time. If you have pets, you should purchase a filter of a higher caliber such as a high-efficiency or HEPA model. These filters have been shown to have a much higher ability to filter out contaminants in the air when compared to others.
Another factor is allergies. Do you live in an area with plenty of allergens that can set you off? Then you better believe you should change your air filters out more often! Even if you don’t have a pet you’re allergic to, if your area is humid this can exacerbate allergies on the account of the mold and mildew buildup.
How Often Should I Change Out My Filter?
A single person household with no pets can wait up to six months. For everyone else, you should switch it out every 90 days. If you have a pet, this number drops to 60 days, with each extra pet requiring more frequent changes.
Before you go to change the filter, make sure you locate the area of the HVAC filter. Newer homes often have more inlets, so make sure to find all their locations. After you get their measurements and purchase the correct ones, turn your thermostat to the off position.
The next step is pretty simple. Merely unhinge the grill that is covering up the air filter, remove it, and then add the new one. Make sure the filter is facing in the correct direction. To help you know when to replace it, try jotting down the date on a notepad when you put in the filter.
Changing out your air filter is simple; knowing when to do it is a little more complicated. The average family will need to switch it out about once every three months, while homes with more people and pets will need to do it more often.