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How Often Should Air Filters Be Changed?


Nov 25, 2019

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Taking good care of your HVAC system will extend its longevity, keep your home comfortable and your family safe! A comfortable home filled with either heat or air conditioning needs to start with quality air. That’s where your HVAC air filter comes in.

Your HVAC air filter plays a simple role – it captures dirt, debris and airborne allergens, preventing these items from entering your home. So it’s only logical that it fills up after months of use, making it less effective at its job over time.

How often should air filters be changed?  A good rule to follow is changing air filters every 3 months. Usually that aligns with the changing of a season, and a change in how you use your HVAC system. The best thing a homeowner can do is understand the importance of changing air filters and knowing when to complete the swap.

The benefit of changing air filters

As with most HVAC and air conditioning appliances, routine maintenance can add years onto the lifespan of your equipment. Replacing the smaller, inner-working parts of your heating or air conditioning unit – like the air filter – will make your equipment work smarter, not harder at keeping your home comfortable. The benefits are worth it.

Improved air quality in your home. Like we’ve already mentioned, air filters work to improve the air quality in your home by trapping airborne particles. The health effects associated with indoor air quality are staggering. Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

Decrease your energy bill with increased efficiency. When your filter is clogged, air flow is restricted and your HVAC unit is working hard to heat or cool your home. That means your energy bill will increase. A primary reason for an HVAC unit to overwork is a clogged filter. Take note: changing air filters can lower energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Increase the longevity of your HVAC unit. Less strain on your system means it can last much longer. Focus on your home’s energy performance with regular maintenance like changing air filters. Doing so can mean the difference between optimal effectiveness and avoidable repairs.

Read More: How to Maintain an HVAC System

Clean peace of mind. Now that you’ve heard about all of the dust and debris that is caught by your HVAC air filter, changing it can give you peace of mind. Every time your heat or air conditioner is on, that air is crossing through your air filter. Make sure it’s not constantly circulating dirty air into your home.

How to know when to change air filters

1. Your living environment

Are you a city dweller, or a suburbanite? Homes within the city limits have a whole different host of air particles than the fresh, open air of suburban neighborhoods. If you live in a city with more pollution, you’ll be changing air filters more frequently. On the flip side, if your home is in the country but there are lots of pollen or allergens in your immediate area, you’ll also want to keep a regular replacement schedule for your air filter.

Do you live with pets? Keep in mind the pet hair, dander, allergens and debris stirred up by your furry friend. If you have pets, your air filter may be working harder than most.

2. Your family

Do you have young children? If the answer is yes – it’s best to keep your home’s comfort level and air quality at their absolute best. With young children comes increased activity. More activity in your home means more household dust, debris and even dirt.

Does anyone have allergies? Those with medical conditions or allergies are particularly sensitive to the quality of the air in your home. Keep this in mind and mention it when a professional is conducting your HVAC maintenance checks.

Know which air filter is best for your HVAC unit

You can definitely work with a professional HVAC team to know what air filter is best for your HVAC unit. But let’s dive in to the importance of a MERV rating for air filters. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – a measure developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers. MERV ranges from values 1 to 16.

The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter will be and more effective it will be at capturing airborne particles. Now, let’s look a little closer at what MERV rating is necessary for your home:

  • MERV 1-4: Captures pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, standing dust
  • MERV 5-8: Mold spores, cement dust, hair spray
  • MERV 9-12: Humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emissions
  • MERV 13 - 16: Bacteria, most tobacco smoke, sneeze particles

While MERV 16 would be ideal for most germ-conscious of all of us, it's usually found in hospital settings. Residential HVAC systems are typically functioning with a MERV rating of 8-13. Your HVAC professional can help you identify the air filter that’s right for your home.

Breathe Easy At Home

Consider the benefits of changing air filters next time you’re thinking about HVAC maintenance and air quality in your home. If your routing HVAC maintenance is behind schedule, call CroppMetcalfe’s 5-star HVAC technicians at 703-698-8855 or contact us online to schedule a service appointment.


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