how often to replace your home's air filter (photo by

You’ve probably heard that you need to change your home’s air filters on a regular basis, but do you know why, how, and how often? Read on to find out exactly why it’s so important to change your home’s air filters, how they can keep your air cleaner, how often you should change them, and how you can ensure the proper fit and installation.

Why You Need to Change Your Home’s Air Filter

Changing your home’s air filter is essential to efficient operation of your air conditioner. It’s a part of routine maintenance, and forgetting to change your air filters can damage your HVAC equipment — and void your home warranty. A dirty air filter slows down air flow and makes the operation of your air conditioner more difficult, wasting energy and potentially causing serious problems for your system.

Air filters remove objects from your HVAC system to improve your home’s air quality, keeping pollutants and debris from circulating indoors. They remove bacteria and particles from the HVAC system, making your air fresh and helping you stay healthy at home.

An up to date air filter is also essential for a healthy HVAC system. They will make your air conditioner run more efficiently and reduce your energy bills. It can also keep repair costs lower as unclogged filters will be easier on your system. Note that a clogged filter makes your HVAC system work harder, wearing down the parts and costing you more in energy bills.

When to Change Your Home’s Air Filter

When your air filters get dirty, you should change them. It’s easy enough to pull them out and see if they’re full, but most people benefit from the reliability of putting their filter replacement on a schedule. Most manufacturers have a recommended schedule as well, and this should be followed to maintain your warranty.

The typical home air filter should be replaced every other month. But your air filter replacement schedule should be adjusted to fit the needs of your home and HVAC system.

Your air filters may need to be changed less or more frequently depending on a number of factors including HVAC use, allergies, overall air quality, pets, how many people live in your home, and construction. Pets in particular will require you to change your air filter more frequently, as their hair and dander can quickly clog an air filter.

Single occupant or vacation homes without pets can typically wait about 3 months or more before changing air filters. Multiple occupants should change filters every three months or more. With pets, every other month should be sufficient, unless you have multiple pets or allergies. In that case, you should change air filters every month.

How to Remember to Change Your Air Filter

It’s not always easy to remember to change your air filter or perform other maintenance tasks around your home. We recommend setting electronic alerts on your calendar. For example, Google Calendar allows you to create an event or task with a pop up or email reminder. Consider setting one for the first of the month that reminds you to check your air filter and test the battery on your smoke detector.

Getting the Right Size Air Filter

To find the right size air filter for your home, simply look at your old one. The number or size should be printed on the side of your existing air filter. If there is no printed information, measure the length and width of the space with a ruler or tape measure to make sure you get thr correct size. Replacement filters are available online, at hardware stores, and even some grocery stores.

How to Replace Your Home’s Air Filter

It’s simple to remove and replace your home’s air filter. You’ll need to locate your home’s air return vent, typically on the ceiling or wall. Sometimes, vents are located on the system. You will probably have two or three returns that have filters to change.

Once you’ve located the air return, open it, using a screwdriver if necessary. Pull out the old filter, and put the new one in its place. Look for arrows on the filter to be sure you’re putting it in properly for the right airflow. With the air filter replaced, just close up the return again.

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