How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

Plus steps for making sure the new filter has been installed properly. 

It’s a question we receive all the time, ‘How often should I change my air filter?’, and every homeowner with a forced air system should have a rough idea of how often their air filter should be changed. Unfortunately, it’s not so cut and dry because every home and HVAC system is different. Once you know how to change your air filter, it should be a simple but important task to keep your system running smoothly while providing you with cleaner air.

A forced air heating or cooling system relies on an adequate flow of air returning to it. This is why return vents should remain clear of obstructions, this includes an overabundance of dust and debris on your air filter. The more foot traffic through your home from people and pets, as well as the natural air exchanges of your home, contribute to the amount of particulates the air filter will capture. Whereas a well-sealed house with minimal foot traffic should not have to change an air filter as frequently.

Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. The most common air filter size is disposable 1” thick pleated filters. These should be changed anywhere from monthly to every 3 months. Media air filters are thicker, 4 – 5 inches, and have been a go-to for Zimmerman installations for years. These provide cleaner air by filtering more, smaller particulates without restricting air flow. In normal circumstances, media air filters can last for 6 – 12 months until needing to be replaced.

It’s a good idea to perform a visual inspection of your air filter on a regular basis. When replacing the filter, shut the system down prior to pulling out the old one. When installing the new filter, pay attention to the side, there should be an indicator arrow that points in the direction of airflow. If not, align the thin metal wiring on the filter closest to the air handler or furnace. Take the extra step to write the date on the side of the filter so you can keep track for the next time.

As part of a routine HVAC maintenance appointment, we make sure to check the filter during each visit and change it when necessary. Our technicians will educate you on steps you can take to ensure the best possible operation of your HVAC system. Give us a call at (717)697-3528 to schedule an appointment.


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