All About Furnace Filter Replacement

When you purchase your first home, you should make a home maintenance list so you know the major tasks you need to complete regularly. “Change furnace filter” may not top the list, but it certainly should be on it.

Failing to change your furnace filter regularly can result in disastrous consequences. A basic furnace filter replacement will save you all kinds of headaches down the line including having to replace your HVAC system prematurely.

But how often is too often when it comes to changing a furnace filter? Is once a month enough, or should you be checking your filter weekly?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about changing your furnace filter and also what filter makes the best furnace air filter on the market.

Importance of the Filter

Before you understand how often to change your filter, you should first understand what a filter does.

A furnace filter removes impurities from the indoor air and keeps climate-controlled air flowing through your HVAC system. Air flows from your return air duct through the filter and then onto the heating or cooling system for proper cooling or heating.

The filter plays two roles. It keeps your air clean. It also keeps your HVAC components clean.

A good filter will prevent dirt and debris from building up in your HVAC system and causing malfunctions. An accumulation of dirt and debris in your HVAC unit can cause the unit to overheat and malfunction.

Furthermore, clogged fans have to work harder, and this means your system will require more energy to do its job. Your energy bills will go up, and you will see your HVAC system breakdown prematurely.

When you purchase a furnace filter, you will see it has a MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV number, the more allergens the filter removes.

One might assume, then, that you should purchase a filter with the highest MERV rating possible to protect yourself from air contaminants. High MERV ratings are meant for big, commercial buildings and not residential HVAC units. If you’re purchasing a filter for your home, purchase one with a MERV of 8 to 13.

Change Them Regularly

In the same way that you can purchase a variety of furnace filters, the frequency in which you need to change the filter will vary as well.

To know how often to change your filter, check your HVAC manual first. If you have a newer system and know where the manual is, this text should tell you what kind of filter to purchase and how often to change the filter.

If you cannot locate your manual because you have an older system or you purchased the house and inherited the HVAC, then plan on changing your filter no less than every 90 days. Experts recommend you let no more than 90 days pass between filter exchanges.

Furnace filter sizes also dictate how often to change your filter.

If you have the typical 1- to 2-inch filter you can find in typical residences, then change the filter every 1 to 3 months. If you have a larger filter, like a 3- to 4-inch filter, replace it every 6 to 9 months. If you have an even bigger filter, like a 5- to 6-inch filter, change it out every 9 to 12 months.

Thicker filters will capture more contaminants, and thus you can wait longer to change them compared with thinner filters. This is why you can wait for up to a year before you replace a 6-inch filter compared to a month for a 1-inch filter. The 6-inch filter just catches more contaminants and allergens.

Other Factors

In addition to the size of the filter, other factors affect how often you need to change your filter.

For example, a household of six will need to change their furnace filter more often than a couple will. The more people you have, the more contaminants you have in your home environment.

Pets also make a significant difference. They shed fur and dander, and your air filtration system will pick these allergens up. The filter will catch the dander and fur, but it will also clog more easily as a result.

Every animal in your home reduces the filter’s life by 30 days. Thus, if you have a dog or a cat, or any other furry creature, change your filter often.

If you already have poor air quality in your home and no other purifiers, you should plan on changing your furnace air filter often. For example, if you live on a dirt road or in a sandy environment, you will either need an air purifier in your home or frequency filter changes.

People who suffer from asthma and allergies will also require frequent furnace filter changes. You need that filter to capture as many allergens as it can so you do not suffer in your own home.

When You Don’t Change the Furnace Filter

You do not have to spend a lot of money to change your filter. You can find discount filters online and save a bundle, especially compared to the damage you’ll have to pay for if you do not change your filter regularly.

If you do not change your filter, you will end up with significantly higher costs in other areas.

For example, experts claim that changing your furnace filter regularly can reduce your energy bill by 5 to 15 percent. A good furnace filter will also prevent your HVAC from breaking down prematurely.

Finally, clean furnace filters will keep you and your family healthy. You can avoid the discomfort, lost time from work, and medical bills caused by illness from poor air quality if you change out your furnace filter regularly.

Don’t Neglect Furnace Filter Replacement

Put “furnace filter replacement” on the top of your home maintenance list. Set a reminder and an alarm on your phone so you do not forget this critical monthly task. In the end, you’ll save yourself money not to mention the physical pain of air contamination.

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