Your home’s HVAC air filters play a massive role in keeping your household functioning smoothly and efficiently, yet many homeowners neglect them. Your heating, cooling and ventilation systems all run more effectively when they’re clean. That means that when the filters are doing their job by trapping most of the dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander and mold spores in your home, your environment is more comfortable and you’re saving money on energy. Over time, though, your HVAC air filters will become so packed with particles that they either run out of space or become clogged. If you don’t replace them when this occurs, your HVAC systems will start declining in performance. However, there’s no one absolute timeframe in which every homeowner needs to switch out their filters; several variables come into play, and every household is different. By examining your home’s specific situation, you can decide on the ideal filter replacement routine.

The Main Filter Types

There are two primary kinds of household HVAC air filters: fiberglass air filters and pleated air filters. Both types are disposable and must be switched out regularly, but the recommended timeframe is different for each. Fiberglass filters, which are less expensive but also less efficient, need to be changed once per month on average. You’ll have to pay more for pleated filters, but they typically last about three times longer than fiberglass filters, and they do an excellent job of trapping pollutants. Those timeframes should only be used as jumping-off points. The specifics of your home are the true determiners of how long your filters will last.

Size of Your Home

The size of your house will play a role in how long the HVAC filters can last before needing replacement. If you have a huge house, your heating and cooling systems need to work more and circulate more air to control the climate of every room and area. As a result, it won’t take as long for the air filters to get excessively dirty. If your square footage is lower than average, you can probably get away with waiting longer than many homeowners to change your filters. However, some smaller homes do have smaller appliances with smaller filters, in which case they will become full more quickly.

Household Cleaning Habits

It may be hard to be honest with yourself about how clean your home truly is, but it’s important to do so when managing your HVAC filters. If you or other household members dust, vacuum and wipe down surfaces religiously, that takes a ton of the pressure off of your air filters. If you’re confident that very few contaminant particles are usually floating around or accumulating, you should be able to wait longer to bring in new filters.

If you aren’t able to clean quite as often, it’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s often challenging to find the time and motivation to be consistent about it. However, you should take that into account when it comes to filter replacements and be extra diligent.

Do You Have Pets?

The more pets you have, the less time it will take for your HVAC filters to fill up. For one thing, having animals in the home results in pet dander and fur frequently being cycled through your HVAC systems. Additionally, if you have dogs or other outdoor pets, they’ll regularly track dirt, pollen and other contaminants into the house. So, if you have furry friends living in your home, take them into account when deciding when to change your filters.

Factoring the Season

One of the biggest factors determining how often to replace your filters is the time of year. For example, during the mild San Diego springs and falls, you probably won’t be relying much on your heating or cooling system. As a result, your HVAC filters won’t be working as hard, and you can get away with being laxer about switching them out.

During the harsher weather of the summer and winter, though, your HVAC systems will be working overtime to keep you comfortable. Not only will your filters fill up more quickly, but it will be even more imperative that you keep your appliances running efficiently. To ensure your consistent comfort, be extra proactive about filter replacement during very hot and very cold stretches.

Do You Have Allergies?

If you or anyone else in your home suffers from allergies to dust, pollen, pet dander or any other household contaminant, you’ll want to replace your filters more frequently. If you wait around until they get clogged or caked with dust, you’ll likely get hit hard with those unpleasant symptoms, so it’s particularly wise to be proactive. Additionally, you should consider going with pleated filters instead of fiberglass ones. That way, you won’t have to be replacing them every couple of weeks to stay unaffected by allergies. Plus, with pleated filters, you’ll know that as many particles as possible are getting caught before you have to breathe them in.

Considering the Occupants of the Home

Usually, the more people you have living in your home, the more frequently your air filters will need replacing. For example, if you live alone and are gone for eight hours every day, your filter HVAC systems probably aren’t working as hard, and by extension, neither are your filters. With more occupants, though, those systems are likely getting used more often, and more air is being circulated.

Having children in the home should also factor into your filter replacement habits. Generally, children are more sensitive to airborne contaminants like mold, dander and pollen. For that reason, households with one or more children are advised to purchase new filters more regularly.

When in Doubt, Always Check

If you can figure out the ideal timeframe for filter replacement in your household, it will be a major time-saver. However, while you’re still working that out, it’s always wise to visually inspect the filters to be certain of their status. You should be able to tell by looking at it whether or not a filter is excessively dirty. One effective tactic is to hold a light source up to the filter to see whether or not the light passes through it. If it doesn’t, that means it’s time for a replacement.

Once you’ve figured out the average filter lifespan for your home, you shouldn’t need to check on it as often. However, if any variables change, such as getting a pet or having a baby, you’ll want to reevaluate.

Since 1989, our team at Friar's Heating and Air has been a trusted heating and cooling service provider for San Diego, CA residents. We’re a family-owned and -operated company, and we have one primary goal in mind, providing great service at reasonable rates. In addition to heating and air conditioning services, we offer ductless installation and replacement, indoor air quality and air purification services, UV lights, and ductwork services. Our highly experienced technicians receive ongoing training to stay up to date with industry standards. Reach out to us at Friar's Heating and Air today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

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