Understanding the Ins and Outs of Air Filter Care

March 26, 2018

Furnace Air Filter As you’re prepping your spring cleaning list, there’s something you should add to the list that might fly under your radar – the air filter associated with your furnace or air conditioner. The air filter plays a crucial role in your equipment performing properly and having the longevity you need from it, so make sure you don’t skip this step! If you’re not sure what to look for or why to check and/or change that sucker out, never fear. We’re breaking it down for you today.

Why Check and Replace the Air Filter Regularly?

The air filter in your heating and cooling equipment is designed to capture things, both big, like your pet’s hair, and small, like dust or pollen. When this core maintenance task is neglected, a service call is likely in your future. Left unchecked long enough to become clogged, the airflow throughout the equipment and your home is blocked, causing your furnace to overheat or your air conditioner to freeze – it’s inevitable. So, don’t join the horde of homeowners each year that are disappointed to learn they didn’t need a technician for their “broken” furnace or air conditioner, after all. Check your filter early and often.

When Will it Get Dirty?

The answer is – it depends. Every house is different and there are a number of factors that will contribute to how often your air filter needs to be checked. You may have dogs that shed, or like to leave the doors open. Maybe there’s construction going on inside or outside, or your household cleaning patterns have changed recently. Does your furnace fan run often? Do you leave it on to circulate air? All these things, and more, will affect the amount of stuff that reaches your filter. The more your equipment runs, the more likely it will become dirty sooner.

Then, on top of that, the particular type of filter that you have in your home will affect how often you need to check it. One-inch disposables might have a 1-3 month life expectancy. Thicker disposable filters may be good for 3-12 months. Washable filters will depend on the style, but typically will need a cleaning every 1-3 months.

What Else Can You Do?

So how do you avoid experiencing a clogged filter? Here are a couple of ideas to help make it a regular part of your home care routine: Create a schedule – literally – program it into your calendar of choice. We suggest checking the filter once a month, at first. If it’s usually dirty on that schedule, stick with it. If not, add a month between checks until you find the right timing! It might be every month, it might be every 6 months to a year, but starting conservatively ensures your filter is not neglected.

Prior to shutting itself down due to a clogged filter, the system is likely to become gradually noisier, less efficient, and less effective. Be attentive. If you notice any of those symptoms, check the filter first.

You can also assign the task of checking/changing the filter to someone else. Many homeowners choose to have a maintenance program with a service professional who regularly inspects their system, air filter included, to make sure everything is in order.

Addressing the air filter in your home’s heating and cooling system is like changing the oil in your car – setting a good routine will save you in the end, and it will help ensure your home retains the comfort levels you desire. If you struggle to make filter checks a regular part of your home care routine, give us a call. We offer a variety of maintenance plans to take that step, as well as many other inspection points most homeowners are not qualified to handle, off your plate for good!