Like the oil filter in your car, your HVAC system’s air filter is out of sight – and often out of mind. But also like your oil filter, your air filter is a vital part of the heating and air system. Without the barrier it provides, problems start to happen. That’s why you need to change it. But just why is changing your air filter so important?
Keep reading. We’ll go over why changing your filter is important, and what you need to do.
Why is Changing Your Air Filter So Important?
Here’s a clue: changing your air filter is important for your air quality, your heating and air system, and your wallet.
First, we’ll talk about air quality, since it affects both your home and your family.
1. A Dirty Air Filter is Bad for Your Air Quality
Every square foot of air that passes through your HVAC system has to go through the air filter. As a result, it catches a lot of pollutant particles. The amount varies depending on the type of filter you have. Dust, mold spores, pet hair and dander, fabric particles, and so on. Over time, those particles build up on the filter’s surface.
In addition, all that extra matter buildup on the air filter can collect moisture. And we all know what likes moist surfaces. That’s right, mold and bacteria. Colonies of mold and bacteria can block airflow. But that’s not all. If they’re on the side of the filter heading into your system, those colonies can release even more pollutants and allergens into your indoor air.
But that’s nothing compared to what they’ll do if they form colonies inside your HVAC system. Don’t worry, though. Change your filter often, and you can help prevent that kind of contamination.
2. A Dirty Air Filter is Bad for Your Heating and Air System
Your air filter isn’t just for your health. It doesn’t simply remove pollen and dust from the air. It also stops larger debris, like pet hair.
Each day, your air filter collects particles. And, each day, those particles add to those caught before them, creating more and more buildup that blocks the filter’s mesh. For that reason, if you put off changing your filter, your system starts to struggle to pull air. But why does that matter? One reason.
Clogged air filters can cause HVAC system failure.
- Harder Work
Your HVAC blower fan needs to work harder to pull air through the filter. Harder work equals much more wear and tear (not to mention higher utility bills).
- Less Comfort
If your system is having trouble moving air, coverage in your home will be spotty. You could end up with inconsistent cold spots and hot spots. In that case, you’ll be less comfortable.
- Mechanical Risk
No matter how much air can get through the filter, your system will still heat and cool at the same rate. But, if filter blockage keeps the heated or cooled air from leaving the unit as quickly as it should, your system could freeze or overheat. In that case, your power usage will stay the same as usual. But you’ll notice that your air isn’t as cool or warm as it should be.
3. A Dirty Air Filter is Bad for Your Budget
Ignore your air filter, and the problems will increase over time. Yes, your filter will stop working as designed. But that’s not all. You’ll also have dust in your ducts that makes its way to the heating and cooling unit. This will harm the moving parts. They’ll operate with more difficulty and use more energy. The filter itself isn’t the only thing that will stop functioning as it should. Dust in the ducts will degrade the moving parts, making them run slower and draw more power.
That’s why heating and air professionals will say that changing the filter is the single most important thing you can do to protect your comfort system.
The cost of filters is a small price to pay for long-term system health.
How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?
The old recommendation was to change the filter every month.
However, today there are many options available that allow you to go longer between changing them. The best advice we can give is to follow manufacturer recommendations. And, if you don’t have those handy, check it every month for several months until you determine how long it takes for your filter to get dirty. This can vary depending on the type of filter you have and your lifestyle. For example, people with several pets may need to change their filter more often.
Once you determine the schedule that will best fit your needs, set a change-the-filter task on your calendar. It’s hard to forget something that shows up on your calendar. And it’s much less expensive than the alternative.
We hope this article has informed you and encouraged you to be proactive with your air filter! In our next article, we’re going to discuss the air filter itself. What kind should you get? Which is best? How can you tell? How might your system respond? We’ll answer these common questions, and maybe a few more.