There is a common misconception about the air filter that comes standard with your air conditioning and heating systems–that it is in place to protect your indoor air quality. It certainly doesn’t hurt your indoor air quality, but its purpose is actually to protect the HVAC systems themselves from dirt, dust, and other debris that can get inside and harm their sensitive components, causing friction, overheating, and airflow resistance.
That said, it’s important that you change the air filter on a regular basis, but how regular? A general rule of thumb is every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter and the level of contaminants or particles in your home. We’ll elaborate more on this below, as well as just why it is so important to change that filter on a routine basis.
Air Filter Change Frequency
As we alluded to above, how often you change your HVAC air filter is dependent on a few factors. These factors include:
- How often your HVAC systems run during the heating or cooling season.
- The amount of dust, dander, and lint circulating through the rooms of your home–remember, pet owners are (usually) going to have a bit more.
- The type of filter used in your HVAC systems.
We have years of experience serving your area, and we can tell you that, for the cooling season at least, it’s pretty typical to need to change your air filter closer to once a month than once every 3 months. Again though, it’s going to depend on those other factors. Read on as we uncover how the type of filter plays a role:
- Panel Filters: These are relatively inexpensive air filters that are made of basic fiberglass screens. You can usually buy them in packs that cost about a dollar per filter, and these will almost definitely require once-a-month changes.
- Pleated Filters: These are a little bit more expensive, but also more effective. Made from polyester, you can usually get away with changing every 3, maybe even 4 months.
- Media Filter: If you’re really looking to help your indoor air quality and your HVAC system, then a media filter may be the way to go. It’s a step up from the pleated filter, and typically only needs to be changed at the beginning of the cooling season and again at the beginning of the heating season.
- Permanent Filter: The name of this air filter is a little misleading. Yes, it’s permanent, but it still needs to be cleaned–usually once a month. If you use water to clean it off, make sure you let it dry completely before you put it back in the system, to avoid mold growth.
If you’re still unsure of how often to change (or clean) your air filter, the best advice we can offer is to go ahead and check your air filter every 4-6 weeks and see if there’s a significant build-up of debris. It will be pretty noticeable if there is!