Sometimes we’re asked what is the most important thing that Charlotte area homeowner's can do to maintain their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled tune-ups? That’s an easy one; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is critical to the proper performance of your HVAC system, in addition to your home's air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is in the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not difficult for most Charlotte homeowners, but there are usually two obstacles to actually completing this job:
- Determining just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
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 see that some are engineered to only last a month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have released media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every 3 months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we tell our customers to go by. If it's dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can contribute or cause damage to costly components, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than neglect it. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest scribbling the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding 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 equipment manufacturer.
Determining how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
- Which air filter your system requires
- The collective air quality of your Charlotte area home
- Pets – Birds, cats, dogs, hamsters (do you have one?), etc.
- Occupancy of the home
- How much construction is taking place in the neighborhood around your home
For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the OEM specs basically tell you to change them every 1 or 2 months, which is really a great rule of thumb. Still, general rules aren't always for everybody. If you have to tolerate 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 less populated area, own a less occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, changing your air filter every 12-months may be quite sufficient. Why do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter in no time, just like a vacuum. Obviously, the air filter is just doing its job by containing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause diminished HVAC performance.
- Seldom used home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- Add a dog or cat: Change every 60 days
- More than one pet or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner's Air Filters
Komfort Air 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. In addition, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Charlotte area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.
How to replace your return air filter
Most of us know how to replace the air filter in their equipment, but some houses have an extra filter in the return vent. Whether you have one or not is dependent on the HVAC manufacturer's recommendation. Your unit is designed to handle a set amount of pressure in your home, and the more filters you have the harder the blower motor works, which can decrease the life of your system if it isn't designed for it. Learning whether you have a return filter and replacing it is simple:
- Locate your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to pull off the wall.
- Inspect for a filter. If one is inside, pull it out and note 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.
Incredible though it may seem, filters can dramatically alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A top tier HEPA filter that is designed to catch tinier particles will reduce airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes more pressure on your system, so you should verify that your HVAC system was built to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and HVAC parts may break down much faster than normal.