Nearly everyone knows that changing the air filter on your HVAC system is important, but the problem is that most references tell you to change the filter when needed. Some give a recommended time frame, of course, but those recommendations are based on “average” use and may not accurately reflect the conditions in your home. The actual lifespan of your filter depends on several factors that you should be aware of.

Lifespan of Air Filters

When you purchase a new air filter, you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations for when to change it, but bear in mind this is only a recommendation. Use it as your guide as to when your filter most likely needs to be replaced. Consider factors in your home environment that may affect the life of your filter:

  • Type of Filter: Some filters last longer than others. As a rule, inexpensive filters are inferior quality and clog quicker than a higher-quality filter. While those bargain-brand filters may seem like a good deal at the time, you may end up spending more money over time because you need to replace them more often.
  • Pets in the Home: There is no delicate way to say it. Pets shed their hair, and it can clog your filters quickly. If you have several pets or a gorgeous long-haired breed, you will likely need to change the filter to your HVAC system more frequently than the average homeowner.
  • Dust: Some areas of the country have more dust than others. If you live in an area with a lot of dust, this can contribute to a shorter lifespan for your filters. Likewise, home projects and construction may kick up a lot of dust that will get trapped in your filter.
  • Smoking: If there are smokers in your home, be aware that this puts extra stress on your filters. The filters are likely to clog more quickly and may even become sticky from the tobacco residue making it impossible for the filter to do its job.
  • High Humidity: While high humidity doesn’t clog the filter, the trapped moisture can cause mold or mildew to form when the filter is dirty. This means your HVAC system will circulate mold spores through your home, damaging your system or posing health risks to your family. If you live in an area with high humidity levels, be extra conscious of changing the filter frequently.

When you purchase a new air filter, you should check the manufacturer's recommendations for when to change it, but bear in mind this is only a recommendation. Use it as your guide as to when your filter most likely needs to be replaced.

How Can You Tell the Filter Needs Changed?

Using the manufacturer’s recommended time for changing the filter is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be your only reason to change the filter. Sometimes filters get dirty sooner than expected and need to be replaced. Here’s how to assess whether your filter needs changing:

  • Visibly Dirty Filters: The easiest way to determine if your filter needs changed is to visibly inspect it. If it looks dusty, is covered with pet hair or is severely discolored, take that as your cue to change the filter.
  • Inefficient Heating and Cooling: A clogged or dirty HVAC filter will cause your HVAC system to perform poorly. You may notice it running longer than usual, or experience less efficient heating and cooling.
  • An Increase in Allergy Symptoms: If someone in your home has allergies or respiratory condition, you may notice an increase in symptoms. This can occur when the filter is dirty and fails to remove dust, pollen and other allergens from the air.

Clogged filters are more than an annoyance. They cause extra stress on your HVAC system, costing you more money in energy costs and repair bills, and can affect your family’s comfort, too. Changing the filter when it becomes dirty or clogged will improve your HVAC system’s performance and improve the quality of your indoor air. At R&D Mechanical Services, we can help you keep your heating and cooling system performing at its best. Contact us today to learn more.

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