An HVAC Expert Tells Us How Often You Should Change Your Air Conditioner Filter

Running your air conditioner creates a cool, comfortable environment in your home, even on sweltering, humid days. Yet, it's not uncommon for this efficiency to change over time, and sometimes it's because the air filter is no longer functioning as it should. This filtration system on an AC system works to collect all particles coming into the air conditioner, including dust and dander, so it doesn't make it into the actual HVAC, according to Trane. Proper upkeep of these filters helps extend the life of the system and keep your home in top shape.

How do you know it's time to change them to boost efficiency and performance? David Heiman, Senior Director of Training at The Refrigeration School, Inc. shares that insight and more in an exclusive interview with House Digest. He states, "If you have basic, non-pleated air filters, you should change your air filters every 3 to 4 weeks. Some larger air filters need to be replaced every 90 days." While this is a good place to start, some other factors can impact how often you should be swapping 

What impacts the frequency?

It's a good idea to take a closer look at the air quality in your home to determine how often you should replace the filters. According to David Heiman, several factors play a role in the frequency. "Living conditions such as dry, dusty climates and pet dander will significantly impact the frequency of how often you need to change your air filters." If you tend to have a lot of dust in your home for any reason, that could be a sign that it needs changing more often since these particles may be coming into those living spaces from the HVAC system.

Dogs, cats, and just about any other animal can be significant factors. Heiman states, "When pets shed, the hair and dander get airborne and is sucked up into the filter, which clogs the filter, reducing airflow and system performance." The easier air can move into the system, the less energy it needs to function, which is why a well-maintained filtration system saves you money on lower energy costs.

Other culprits to consider

What else is in the air in your home? Look outdoors to spot some additional concerns. "Likewise, homes facing a busy street, a vacant lot, or near construction or road work tend to collect more dust," reveals David Heiman. If you are doing some landscaping outside, that, too, can impact indoor air quality. Heiman states, "It can then enter through cracks under the doors and when the door opens when entering or exiting the residence." Even if you have a well-sealed home, this is a risk. Just opening the windows on a warm day may increase the amount of material in the home's air.

Recognizing these concerns, it may be necessary to change out the filter more often than the initial 3-to-4-week estimation. Buying air filters for your home and installing them isn't hard to do. Try to set a schedule, such as the first weekend of the month, to check and replace them as needed to make it a consistent process.