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How Often Should Your Air Filters Be Changed

Aug 19, 2022


Taking good care of your HVAC system will extend its longevity while keeping your home comfortable and your family safe. But a comfortable home needs to start with quality air, which is where your HVAC air filters come in. As a homeowner, you should know the answer to, “How often should home air filters be changed?” 


Your air filters capture dirt, debris, and airborne allergens, preventing these from entering your home. Knowing when they need to be changed can help keep your unit working better for longer. To help you get the most out of your HVAC unit, keep reading to answer the question, “How often should air conditioner filters be changed?”

How Often Should Air Filters Be Changed?

If you’re looking for an exact number for how long you should wait to change your air filters, keep in mind that there isn’t a set amount of days, weeks, or months that works perfectly for everyone. A good rule of thumb is to change your air filters every 3 months, but families with pets, lots of dust, or allergies should think about changing their filters even more often.


Learning how often air conditioner filters should be changed is one of the best ways to keep your home clean and improve your air quality. Usually, changing air filters aligns with changing seasons and a change in how you use your HVAC system. The best thing a homeowner can do is understand the importance of changing their air filters and knowing the best time to make the swap.  

The Benefits of Changing Your Air Filters  

As with most HVAC and air conditioning appliances, routine maintenance can add years to the lifespan of your equipment. Replacing the smaller, interior 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.


When you learn how often air filters should be changed and regularly change your filters properly, you can keep your HVAC unit running smoothly for much, much longer.


The benefits of changing out your air filters are worth it. Here are a few to consider.

Improved Air Quality in Your Home 

Air filters work to improve the air quality in your home by trapping airborne particles. If your air filter isn’t working properly, those particles can pollute the air in your house and cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Decrease Your Energy Bill with Increased Efficiency

With your air filters are clogged, it restricts airflow, and your HVAC unit has to work harder to heat or cool your home. That means your energy bill will increase. Changing your air filters can lower energy consumption by 5-15%.

Increase the Longevity of Your HVAC Unit

Less strain on your HVAC 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.

Peace of Mind

Now that you know all about the dust and debris your HVAC air filters catch, changing them can give you peace of mind. Every time your HVAC unit is on, air is crossing through your air filter. The cleaner the filter, the cleaner the air in your home.

How to Know When to Change Air Filters

Knowing how often home air filters should be changed doesn’t need to be complicated. There are a couple of ways you can always tell when your air filter needs to be changed, regardless of how recently you changed them last.

1. Your Living Environment

Are you a city dweller or a suburbanite? Homes within the city limits have a different host of air particles than homes in the more open air of suburban neighborhoods. If you live in a city, you’ll want to change your air filters more frequently.


But if you live in the country and encounter large amounts of pollen or other allergens, you’ll also want to schedule a regular replacement of your air filters.


Or 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 filters may be working harder than most.


Change your air filters if your home starts to seem dustier than normal or if you’re finding that you’re bothered by your living environment.

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 usually comes high levels of activity. More activity in your home means more dust, debris, and dirt. 


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


If anyone in your family starts being especially bothered by allergens, it’s a good idea to change your air filters to help ensure optimal air quality.

Know Which Air Filter is Best for Your HVAC Unit

You can work with a professional HVAC team to know which air filter is best for your HVAC unit. But we’ll briefly touch on the importance of a MERV rating for air filters. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it’s a measure developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers. MERV values range from 1 to 16.


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

  • MERV 1-4: captures pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, and standing dust
  • MERV 5-8: mold spores, cement dust, hair spray
  • MERV 9-12: humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emissions
  • MERVE 13-16: bacteria, most tobacco smoke, sneeze particles

While an air filter with a MERV 16 rating would be ideal for the most germ-conscious of us, these filters are usually found in hospital settings. Residential HVAC systems are typically functioning with a MERV rating between 8 and 13. Your HVAC professional can help you identify the air filter right for your home.

Breathe Easy at Home

Consider the benefits of changing air filters the next time you’re thinking about HVAC maintenance and air quality in your home. If your routine HVAC maintenance is behind schedule, contact CroppMetcalfe to schedule a service appointment.



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