Looking for the short answer? Check out our FAQ on "How often to change the air filter".
Occassionally we’re asked what is the best thing that Waukegan area homeowner's can do to ensure efficient functionality of their air conditioning and heating system between their scheduled tune-ups? It's a simple question with a simple answer; remember to change the heating and air conditioning air filter. Replacing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the proper performance of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality. Research suggests that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks? You probably don’t consider it as you sit and watch TV, but this is the air you breathe day and night. Changing the air filters is not a tough thing to do for most Waukegan homeowners, but there are often two challenges to actually accomplishing this task:
- Determining just how often to change your furnace or air conditioner filter.
- Changing them when you’re suppose to.
When To Change Your Air Filters
Most filters have a printed "expiration" date on the box or plastic. It may read "Lasts up to 3 months" or "Change filter every 90 days". Check out the filters at the store and you'll see that some are designed to only last a single month, while other manufacturers (like Honeywell) have produced media air cleaners with filters meant to be swapped once every 6-12 months. The industry standard seems to be once every three months for most higher quality filters, but we have a rule of thumb that we recommend our customers to go by. If the filter is dirty, change it! A dirty air filter can add or cause damage to pricey parts, like your compressor, so it's recommended to change it out more often than to let it go. If you want to stick to the manufacturer's recommended limit, we suggest marking the date on the filter when you swap it out, and adding a reminder for yourself in your phone or on a calendar. Also note that your filter manufacturer may have a different recommendation from your HVAC system manufacturer.
Figuring out how often to change your air filters relies upon several factors:
- The type of air filter you are using
- The collective air quality of your Waukegan area home
- Pets – Cats, dogs, birds, etc.
- Occupancy of the home
- The level of air pollution and construction around the home
For your standard 1"-3" air filters, the manufacturer specs basically say to change them bi-monthly, which is actually a great rule of thumb. But general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more often than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you're in a less populated area, own a less occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area with few automobiles and trucks, changing your air filter every 12-months may be quite sufficient. Why do we call out our beloved pets? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by trapping pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.
- Infrequently occupied home or single occupant homes without pets or allergies: Change 6-12 months
- Common suburban home without pets: Change every 90 days
- House with a pet: Change every 60 days
- Multiple pets or have allergies: Change every 30-45 days
How To Remember To Change Your Air Conditioner's Air Filters
Robinson Service Experts offers a simple solution; sign up for the Service Experts Email Club. When you do, you can elect to receive (or not) great email coupons and newsletters with a lot of tips and discounts on AC repairs and tune-ups. Plus, your email subscription preferences let’s you set a reminder to change your Waukegan area home's air filter every 30, 60, 90, 120 or 365 days, or the date of your choosing.
How to replace your return air filter
Most of us know how to replace the air filter in their system, but some houses have an extra filter in the return ducts. Whether you have one or not is dependent on what your unit's manufacturer recommends. Your system is engineered to handle a set amount of pressure in your home sweet home, and the more filters you have the fiercer the blower motor works, which can shorten the life expectancy of your system if it isn't designed for it. Finding out whether you have a return filter and replacing it is easy:
- Find your return air vents.
- Some covers have screws and some have tabs. Unscrew or pull tabs to remove from the wall.
- Check for a filter. If one is inside, pull it out and note the size.
- Verify the filter type is the one recommended by the manufacturer.
- If filter is dirty, replace with the manufacturer's recommended filter of the same size and type.
Crazy as it may seem, filters can really alter your home's airflow, which is why we recommend asking the manufacturer. A higher quality HEPA filter that is designed to catch finer debris will obstruct airflow more than a cheaper filter. With restricted airflow comes greater pressure on your system, so you ought to verify that your HVAC system was engineered to handle it. Otherwise, you could experience reduced heating and cooling efficiency in your home, and unit parts may wear out much faster than normal.