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How Often Should I Change My HVAC Air Filter?

Not many people have changing their air filter on the top of their “honey-do” list, but it should at least be on there! If you want to enjoy clean, fresh air, you should regularly replace your home’s HVAC air filter.

How Often Should I Change My Air Filters?

The short answer to this question is to change the air filter every 30 days. However, this is a rule of thumb that doesn’t apply to everyone or fit every situation. In fact, 30 days is the most frequently you should ever have to replace your air filter. Most manufacturers will have a recommendation for your HVAC equipment and often times you need to follow their timeline in order to maintain your manufacturer’s warranty. In all other cases, follow these guidelines to pinpoint exactly how often you should change your air filters:

  • Every 30 days: Standard 1- to 3-inch air filters generally start to collect dust and other debris after 30 days of use. If you have more than one pet and/or allergies, plan to check the filter monthly. You may not have to change your air filter but you should at least check to see how dirty it is. There is no harm in replacing your air filter more frequently.
  • Every 60 days: If you have dogs or cats it is recommended to change your filter every 60 days. Most dogs and cats shed, so plan to replace your HVAC air filter every 60 days. The extra dirt and animal hair in your home make the filter clog up faster.
  • Every 90 days: Most filters are rated to last up to 90 days. If you and your family live in an “average” home in Utah with no pets and no allergies, you can get away with stretching your filter to its maximum lifetime.
  • Every 6 to 12 months: In unusual situations, such as single-occupant or vacation homes, you don’t need to change the air filter as often. Plan to check it every few months, but you probably only need to change the air filter once or twice a year.

Benefits of Replacing Air Filters Regularly

Do you like breathing clean air? Improved air quality is only one of the benefits of regularly replacing your air filter. HVAC air filters keep pollution and debris out of your HVAC system. This is important to ensure that your system is running properly and efficiently. A dirty air filter will slow down the air flow making your furnace or air conditioner work harder. Other benefits of changing your air filter regularly include:

  • More energy savings: A clogged air filter overworks your HVAC system because it blocks airflow to and from your ductwork. It’s like trying to breathe through a straw. You can save energy and thereby reduce your home’s carbon footprint by changing the filter according to the recommendations above—especially if you have an energy-efficient air filter!
  • Lower energy bills: Less energy consumption means a lower cost to keep your home at the right temperature.
  • Greater system longevity: An overworked system doesn’t last as long as one that operates within its intended parameters. By changing your air filter, you help reduce stress on the air handler and motor, preventing premature system failure. In this way, paying for replacement filters is an investment that helps your system last years longer.

What Happens When I Forget to Change My Air Filters?

Not everyone makes changing their home’s HVAC air filters a priority. If you choose to join that crowd, your air filter can become incredibly clogged with dust and debris. When this happens, the consequences include the following:

  • Your energy bills are higher every month.
  • Your HVAC system runs hotter and parts wear out faster.
  • You don’t get the most efficient use of the equipment you invested in.
  • Airflow decreases and your HVAC system can no longer keep your home as comfortable.
  • Indoor air quality suffers and your allergies worsen.

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