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How Often Do You Need to Change an A/C Filter?
General Heating & Air Conditioning

How Often Do You Need to Change an A/C Filter?

Summer is in full swing, and a reliable working air conditioner is not just a good idea. It’s also a necessity. And making sure your air conditioner stays in good working condition starts with regular HVAC system maintenance.

At General Heating and Air Conditioning, we help Minnesota homeowners manage their heating and cooling systems so their homes stay cool when they need it. One of the most common questions we encounter relates to how often an air filter should be changed. We’ve put together this guide to help you with your household’s air filter maintenance plan. Check out this advice and then give us a call when you need HVAC maintenance for your Twin Cities area home.

Length Between Air Filter Changes

It’s not uncommon to leave filters for far too long between changes, but it’s not recommended. Anytime air filters become overfull with dust, dirt, and particles, this decreases the efficiency of an air conditioner.

That’s why it’s important to change your filters regularly. Generally speaking, air filters should be changed about once every three months. However, the first thing to know about air filters is that there are a number of reasons that can affect the length of time between air filter changes.

1.    Type of Filter

Higher-end air filters tend to last much longer than discount fiberglass filters. A high-quality filter may be expected to last for up to six months or longer. However, cheaper filters may need to be changed once a month. The brand and size of an air filter can also play a role in how long it should be expected to last.

2.    Size of Home

Smaller homes tend to require fewer air filter changes than larger homes with a few exceptions. However, if your home uses a smaller air conditioner unit with smaller filters, it may require as many changes as a larger residence would.

3.    Frequency of Use

If you don’t use your air conditioner frequently, your air filter will last longer. For families that turn off their air conditioner when they’re away from home and at night, your air filter may last for an entire season. However, if you’re constantly running your AC, you may need to change your filter more frequently.

4.    Household Pets

Any pet owner can testify that fur gets all over everything in a home. Pet dander and fur can also clog up an air filter rapidly. Pet owners should plan to change their air filters at least every two months. During the summer when pets are shedding, check your filter more frequently.

5.    Household Air Quality

The air quality inside your home will have a direct impact on your air filter. If you live in an area with poor air quality, you will likely have a higher amount of particulates inside your home. Likewise, if you use a wood-burning stove or a member of your household smokes or vapes, your air filter will require more frequent changing. 

6.    Health of Occupants

If anyone in your home suffers from respiratory issues including asthma or allergies, your filter needs to be changed more frequently. Individuals with compromised immune or respiratory function can be far more sensitive when exposed to airborne particles. Be sure to change your air filter at least once every six weeks if a member of your household may fall into this category.

7.    Age-Related Occupant Concerns

If your household includes occupants who may be sensitive to respiratory infections due to age, you should also plan to change your air filter more frequently than is typically recommended. Seniors can be especially sensitive to air particulates. Infants and small children are also more vulnerable to mold, mildew, and pollution.

How Can I Tell if It’s Time?

As a good rule of thumb, pick a day each month to look at your air filter and decide if it’s time for a fresh one. If your filter appears dirty and you can’t see light through the filter, it’s time to change. If your filters require more or less frequent changing, adjust your schedule accordingly.

What Happens if I Don’t Change the Filter?

It’s not uncommon to be flippant about changing a home’s air filter, but any heating and cooling technician can tell you it’s a terrible idea to put it off. These are just some of the problems that can arise when you neglect your air filter:

●        Your home’s energy bills will be higher.

●        Your household energy footprint will increase.

●        Air particulates like dust, dirt, and mold are not completely removed from the air inside your home, leading to poor air quality.

●        Ducts can become clogged.

●        The HVAC airflow reduction forces the system to work harder and wear out more quickly.

●        Repairs may be needed more frequently.

Call for Minnesota Air Conditioning Service

Besides regularly changing your filters, it’s also important to schedule annual maintenance to make sure your air conditioner is in top working condition and prevent future problems. At General Heating & Air Conditioning, our heating and cooling technicians offer regular maintenance programs to help you keep your system cool all summer long. Contact us online or call 952-445-2820 to connect with an air conditioning technician and schedule your next maintenance today.

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