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Solved! How Often Do You Need To Replace Your AC Filter?


How Often Do You Need to Replace AC Filter

Your HVAC air filter does much of the heavy lifting in terms of your home’s air quality. It picks up contaminants and allergens that your intake system sucks into your home and protects both your breathing and your HVAC system.

Changing your AC filter is an essential part of HVAC maintenance. Forget to do it, and you not only allow dust, dirt, and all kinds of other nasty particles into the air, but you also do damage your HVAC system.

How often should you change your AC filter? Almost definitely more regularly than you currently do.

Days or Weeks: When to Change Your AC Filter

Every 90 days is a good rule for air filter replacement in most houses.

Do you have pets? Take the rule down to sixty days, and stick to it during seasonal changes when your cats and dogs start to shed.

If someone in your home struggles with asthma or allergies, then consider changing it once every six weeks to relieve them of the suffering caused by airborne particles.

How Do You Know When to Change Your Filter?

Your air filter traps dirt, dust, pollen, and other particles like that its job – because it is.

If you’re on the fence about whether to change it, pull it out and look at it once a month (or every few weeks for homes with allergies). If you can still see the filter through the dust and dirt, then you still have time. Does all the junk hide the surface of the screen and make you shudder? It’s time to change it.

Are you still straddling the line? If you can’t decide, replace it anyway. Air filters are inexpensive, and a quick switch is a small price to pay for cleaner air in your home.

What Happens if You Don’t Change Your AC Filter?

Has your filter slipped your mind? Maybe you have central air for the first time and never realized there was a filter to change.

Failing to put in a new filter when the time comes has consequences, and you’ll notice them quickly.

Two things happen if you let a dirty filter sit in your HVAC system.

You Get Sick

First, dirty air filters let particles float into your house. Breathing in the extra dust and dirt will send any allergy sufferers through the roof, and they notice the difference right away. However, you might also see it even if you don’t cough or wheeze regularly.

Your Energy Bills Skyrocket

Your HVAC system also notices if you skip a regular filter change.

If and when your filter starts to fail, the dust and other contaminating particles blow straight into your system. Enough dust causes friction or even jamming among the moving parts. All of a sudden, your HVAC system is working overtime to overcome the chaos caused by the dust.

You don’t live inside your AC unit, so how will you notice? The first sign will be your power bill. Changing your filter according to the manufacturer’s directions saves you 15 percent a month.

Leave it long enough, and not only will you have a high power bill, but you could find yourself looking at expensive repairs.

DIY: How to Change Your HVAC Filter

Do you want to protect the air your family breathes and extend the life of your HVAC system? Then you need to change your filter regularly. Thankfully, air filters are inexpensive – and it’s an easy DIY process.

Did you get a new HVAC system or move into a new home? Read this to learn how to find and change your AC filter.

1. How to Find the Filter

Every HVAC unit has an air filter, but some systems hide them away. In most cases, your screen sits in the blower compartment or the return air duct. Manufacturers place it here to filter the air coming into the house before it reaches your unit.

Here are a few places to look for your air filter.

On a vertical air handler, you might find it either in the return air duct in a removable slot sitting above or below the HVAC unit.

Do you have a horizontal unit? Look for the filter in the return duct attach to the side. It usually sits in a slot on the return air side.

If neither of these turns up results, check the area behind the return air grill, which is on the wall elsewhere in your home. In some cases, there are return air grills in every room, and you have an air filter in each one, too.

2. How to Replace Your Filter

Before you touch the filter or grate, turn off your HVAC system. The last thing you need is air (and particles) blowing at you when you change the filter. Turning off your HVAC system is a must before any maintenance check – big or small.

When you locate the filter, remove the current filter. If the filter is behind a grill, you need to unscrew the grill cover to reach it. Be sure to keep the screws together and where you can see them.

Take out the used filter and put it in a trash bag immediately to avoid tracking dust and dirt across your home. If it’s disposable, throw it away or recycle it. Is it washable? Put it in the bag and take it outside to wash it. Wait for it to dry before replacing it.

If you removed a grill cover, clean the grill cover before re-installing the clean filter.

When you are ready, place the filter back in the space. The filter should have an indicator arrow to guide you. The arrow should point towards the furnace when you install the filter.

3. Write It Down

Disposable filters tend to include a space to write the date of installation. But don’t forget to make a note of the next change on your calendar. Do yourself a favor and schedule your upcoming filter change in your filter calendar.

How Often Should You Change Your AC Filter?

How often should you change your AC filter? The answer is according to the filter manufacturer’s instructions – or every 60 to 90 days depending on whether you have pets or allergies.

Changing your AC filter takes a few minutes, and it’s a part of home maintenance that you can easily do on your own.

Are you worried about your air quality? Maybe you have questions about how to lower your energy bills. Get in touch today to learn how we can help.

1 Comment
  1. Jay Jorgenson

    My parent’s AC hasn’t been freshening correctly. I appreciate that you mentioned changing the AC filter every 60/90 days, or once every six weeks depending if you have pets or problems with asthma or allergies. Thank you for the advice. I’ll call an HVAC contractor so we can get help changing our filter.


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