When Should I Change My Air Conditioner’s Air Filter at Home?

Every once in a while we’re asked what is the best thing that Winnipeg area homeowner’s can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their seasonal tune-ups? It’s a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Buying new furnace and return air filters is extremely important to the effectiveness of your HVAC system, as well as your home’s air quality. Studies show that indoor air pollution is in the top five environmental health risks? It’s not thought of often, but it is extremely important to consider. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most Winnipeg homeowners, but there are typically two challenges to actually completing this job:

    1. Knowing just how often to swap out your furnace or air conditioner filter.
    1. Replacing them at the proper time.

When To Change Your Air Filters

Most filters have a printed “expiration” date on the wrapping. It may read “Lasts up to 3 months” or “Change filter every 90 days”. Pay attention 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 swapped once every 6-12 months. The standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our readers to go by. If it’s dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to pricey components, like your compressor, so it’s best to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended limit, we suggest writing the date on the filter when you swap it out, and setting a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also be aware that your filter manufacturer sometimes has a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.

Deciding how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:

    • The type of air filter you are using
    • The overall air quality of your Winnipeg area home
    • Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
    • Occupancy of the home
    • How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home

For the common 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturer specs basically tell you to change them bi-monthly, which is really a great rule of thumb. However, general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you put up with light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a remote area, own a seldom occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with little auto traffic, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but exceptionally dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.

In summary:

    • Vacation 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
    • Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days

How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filters

Winnipeg Supply Service Experts 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 Winnipeg area home’s air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or a specific date of your choice.

How to replace your return air filter

Most of you know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some homes have another filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer’s recommendation. Your system is made to handle a set amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can shorten the lifespan of your system if it isn’t designed for it. Discovering 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 remove from the wall.
    • Inspect for a filter. If one is in place, 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.

Amazing as it may seem, filters can greatly impact your home’s airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier dust will restrict airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you might experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and system parts may die off much faster than otherwise.

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