Contemplating how frequently to change your air filter may not have been a priority, and that's completely understandable. After all, it’s easy to take the air we breathe indoors for granted. But in order to ensure that the air quality of our living spaces is clean and healthy, it’s vitally important to know how to check and change the air filter in your HVAC system.
Importance of an Air Filter in a Home
The importance of an air filter in your home can’t be overstated. Air filters play a pivotal role in trapping and removing dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other airborne particles from the air. In removing these indoor air pollutants, air filters greatly improve the air quality of your home, creating a healthier living space for you and your family, particularly those who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory ailments.
Having a working air filter can also extend the life of your HVAC system and ensure it's operating efficiently, cutting down on your energy bill in the process.
How Often to Replace Air Filter – What to Look For
In order to truly get the benefits of changing the air filter in your home, it’s critical that you know how often to replace an air filter. Here are several recommendations and key indicators that you can look for to determine if it’s time to replace your air filter:
- Manufacturer Recommendation – Most manufacturers recommend that you change the air filter every 30 to 90 days or 1-3 months. This can vary depending on factors like filter type, number of occupants in your house, presence of pets, and environment of locale.
- Monthly Visual Inspection – Locate your air filter in the HVAC system and remove it and hold the filter up to a light. If the condition of the filter is dirty or otherwise discolored, or if it appears clogged—if you can’t see light passing through it—it’s definitely time to replace your air filter.
- Reduced Airflow in Vents – Because a clogged air filter restricts the airflow through your HVAC system, you may notice weak airflow coming out of your vents, a good sign that your filter is clogged and needs to be changed.
- Increase of Allergy or Respiratory Symptoms – If you or a family member experience a worsening of symptoms related to allergies or other respiratory conditions, things like excessive sneezing, coughing, or wheezing, it could indicate that there’s an increase of dust and dander indoors due to a dirty air filter.
- Unusual HVAC System Noises or Increased Energy Bills – Strange rattling or whistling noises coming from your HVAC or an unusually large energy bill could be a sign that your system is operating inefficiently, and you should think about changing your home air filter.
Step-By-Step Guide to Changing Home Air FilterStep 1: Locate Air Filter
Typically found in either the return air duct or the air handler unit of the HVAC system.
Step 2: Turn Off the HVAC System
Ensure your safety by turning off the HVAC system at the thermostat.
Step 3: Remove Old Air Filter
Open the compartment or remove the cover and carefully slide the air filter from its slot.
Step 4: Determine Filter Type and Size and Purchase New Filter
Check the filter frame for type and size specifications, and then purchase a filter of the same type and size at the local home improvement center or hardware store.
Step 5: Install New Air Filter
Remove the filter from its packaging and align it with the airflow arrows indicated on the frame. Make sure the filter fits snugly into the slot or compartment, but don’t force or bend it.
Step 6: Close the Air Filter Compartment
Securely reattach the cover or compartment to ensure that it's properly sealed and won’t allow air to come in and bypass the filter.
Step 7: Turn On the HVAC System and Take a Deep Breath
Once the air filter is installed and the compartment closed, turn your HVAC system back on and set the thermostat at your desired temperature, being sure you don’t hear any noises indicating incorrect installation.
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