HVAC Air Filters: When Should You Change Yours

HVAC Air Filters: When Should You Change Yours?

Everyone is busy with their daily lives and may end up forgetting or putting off menial tasks such as cleaning the air filters of their air conditioning unit. The problem arises when the unit starts malfunctioning due to neglect, as maintenance is crucial for ensuring your AC unit’s wellbeing and extending its lifespan. The functioning of the air filter is to ensure that the air entering the compressor chamber is clean. As the air filter is jammed with particles such as dust, mold, pollen, bacteria, pet dander, and other fibers, the air intake amount decreases and increases the electricity consumption as well. But, should you clean the air filter of the HVAC by yourself? Experts recommended that one should not follow DIYs & avoid damaging the air filter as extra handling of air filters could cause further damage. Changing or cleaning the air filters has no specific timeline, but you can make an accurate prediction based on particular traits. Before we jump ahead to filter cleaning, it is crucial to learn about what residential HVAC is.

For keeping your unit in top condition, you need to keep your air conditioner filters clean and replace them when they are damaged from time to time. Failure to do so will have you face scorching heat or extreme cold & increased energy consumption bills, burning a hole in your pocket.

But, should you clean the air filter of the HVAC by yourself? Experts recommended that one should not follow DIYs & avoid damaging the air filter as extra handling of air filters could cause further damage. Changing or cleaning the air filters has no specific timeline, but you can make an accurate prediction based on particular traits. Before we jump ahead to filter cleaning, it is crucial to learn about what HVAC is.

What is HVAC

HVAC refers to Heat, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning. They are systems used for moving air across the indoors & outdoors that keep you warm & cozy in winters and cool in summers. Air circulation and temperature regulation are not the only purposes of this important component. It improves the air quality indoors and provides comfort. 

There are four variants of HVAC air filters: 

Filters with Flat-Panelled Fiberglass

The most commonly used air filter is the Flat-Panelled Fibreglass filter. Structurally they are 16x25x2 air filter layers of fiberglass sandwiched between a plastic mesh. It is inexpensive to replace. The only disadvantage here is that though it can catch dust, it is ineffective at improving the overall indoor air quality.

Filters with Flat-Panelled Fiberglass
Filters with Flat-Panelled Fiberglass

Filter with Pleated Media

In the pleated media filter, the fiberglass sheet is pleated to increase the surface area and enhance overall efficiency. The overall thickness absorbs excessive fan noise. The efficiency of air filtration is low, but it can trap mold and pet dander.

Filter with Pleated Media
Filter with Pleated Media

HEPA filters

Used as heavy-duty and commercial HVAC air filter units, top replacement companies recommend 2 inch HEPA air filters to provide the highest protection level when it is about airborne particles. Thanks to the multiple layers of different filter materials, HEPA filters can capture small microns, dust particles, tobacco, and smoke. Unless pre-fitted with the HVAC, the installation of HEPA filters in the existing unit will require necessary modifications from a contractor.

Reusable Air Filters

The most environmentally friendly filters are reusable air filters. Such filters don’t require you to completely replace them for long-term use; they can be washed! However, if they are installed back in before they are dry, they could attract mold and mildew growth. 

Why do you need to change HVAC air filters? 

Generally, it is advisable to change the HVAC system’s 16x25x2 air filter in your business or at home in 90 days. If you decide to keep using the damaged air filter, it will cause more dirt, dust, and allergens to be trapped, which clog the filter and decrease its overall efficiency. Unnecessary things like dust particles restrict the airflow & create a strain on the HVAC system. The dust jams will clog the moving parts like motors and valves. Not only does it decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system, but it will affect the air quality adversely. Suppose anyone in your house has a sensitivity issue because of the airborne particles or has any sort of allergies, or suffering from asthma. 

In that case, you must get your air filters or air conditioning frequently checked, as the indoor air quality is more significant than the outdoors. You must ensure that the indoor air quality is at its best when you have younger children in your home. If you own a pet, you will be required to change the air filter every two months with all that smell that builds up & shedding with the changing seasons can clog the filters easily. Hence, to keep the air quality in check & keep your home clean, you may consider changing the air filters minimum of every 2 to 3 months. 

Signs You Need to Change Your HVAC Air Filters

The air circulating through your HVAC system will pass through the air filter with the purpose of either heating or cooling your home. Hence, it is significant to keep the air filters clean and change them when required. Air filters must be checked and replaced with a fresh and clean air filter at least once a month. Hold up a light source when removing the air filter. Ideally, you should be able to see the light through the filter. If the light doesn’t pass through, it means that it’s definitely the right time to replace the clogged air filters. However, if you notice that the air filter is not the problem, then you may contact a professional HVAC technician to detect the problem and for servicing.

 The following are the signs or hints that you must consider: 

● HVAC system malfunctions and equipment damage. 

● High fan speed. Reduced airflow inside the HVAC system makes the fans work harder. Overall, decreasing the efficiency of the unit. 

● The outdoor unit is hot to touch. When the back air conditioning unit is too hot, you may experience warm air coming out from the back of the unit. It is an indication that the air conditioner is forced to work harder to keep the home temperature cool. 

● Warm air. If you have observed that the air conditioner unit is blowing warm air or fails to provide cool air as it used to be, then the first thing you must check the air filter. 

● Increased energy consumption and monthly bill amount. This could be due to a faulty appliance or a malfunctioning air conditioning system. If the bill is higher than usual, even in summers, the reason could be a clogged air filter of your HVAC unit. 

● Increased health issues, especially with allergies and breathing problems. When the air filter is clogged, it will reverse the process. In simple terms, the particles like dust pollen and pet dander get stuck in the air filter and are blown out in the air throughout your home.

Wrapping Up

HVAC units are essential to regulate the temperature and improve the overall indoor air quality. Provided that you frequently clean or replace the air filters, you should extend the lifespan of your HVAC and reduce the maintenance costs. We hope the above article provides enough guidance about the air filters, its types, and replacement schedule for each. 

Christophe Rude
Christophe Rude
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