HVAC systems need air filters to function efficiently and last a long time. This component is essential for your equipment to perform optimally and maintain good indoor air quality. If your air filters are filthy, airflow will be restricted in your heating and cooling system, causing it to work harder than it should. As a result, you’ll experience discomfort and see a significant increase in your energy bills.
Continue reading to learn when you need to inspect your air filters and how to determine if they need to be replaced.
What Are Air Filters and Why Are They Important?
Although it’s a vital component, many people aren’t aware of the importance that changing air filters in the home plays in maintaining good indoor air quality. Air filters capture airborne pollutants inside your home like dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. They typically come in a spun fiberglass material. These filters can also be made from pleated paper or cloth framed by cardboard.
Air filters prevent harmful particles from circulating indoors. When choosing air filters, you should always check the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings. Keep in mind that products with higher MERV ratings have better filtering capabilities.
In addition to filtering tiny particles, air filters also prevent larger ones from damaging your HVAC system. Just be sure that you have the appropriate type of filter for your unit. Some of the most popular options for residential units include fiberglass filters, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, pleated filters and UV filters.
How Often Should You Check Air Filters?
It’s important to check and replace air filters regularly. How frequently you need to clean or replace yours depends on the material, the manufacturer’s recommendation and your circumstances. For instance, if someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, you may need to replace them more frequently.
Experienced HVAC professionals suggest checking the condition of your filters every month. If you have disposable air filters, just replace them when they get dirty. With higher-efficiency filters, such as pleated filters, it may be up to three months before they require replacement. It’s also best to check filters more frequently during the months when your equipment runs more often.
Moreover, the location of air filters varies by equipment. Typically, you’ll see a removable filter access door in the return duct beside the indoor unit. This could be in the basement, utility closet, garage, attic or crawl space. In older models, filters may be inside the furnace itself, next to the blower motor. Instead of a wall or ceiling, some units feature a central filter grille that houses the air filter.
How Do You Know If They Need Replaced?
Your HVAC system isn’t keeping you comfortable enough. If it’s been difficult to cool or heat your home lately, it could be that filthy air filters are affecting the efficiency of your HVAC system. If you’ve noticed that your equipment isn’t producing enough cool air, check the filters. Dirty filters will prevent conditioned air from reaching your living spaces.
However, you may need to contact a reputable HVAC technician if you’ve replaced your air filters and the problem persists. At All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re always ready to help meet your home’s heating and cooling needs. If you also have questions about your furnace inspection checklist, repair or maintenance, our team is more than happy to assist.
Your air conditioner is too hot. A common indicator that you need to change your filter is when the back of your air conditioner is too hot. You may also feel warm air coming from the back of the unit if the filter is dirty. Filthy filters will put a lot of strain on your air conditioner, which may lead to damage, costly repairs and reduced lifespan. Replacing your filters regularly will do wonders for the longevity and performance of your HVAC system.
Your energy bills are increasing. Your heating and cooling systems are responsible for at least half of your energy costs. Dirty air filters will prevent good airflow in your HVAC system and require it to exert more effort to reach your desired temperature. When this happens, it also consumes more electricity, resulting in increased utility bills. If you’re using your equipment the same amount and your energy bills are increasing, it may be a good idea to check its filter. An efficient unit will not only offer better efficiency but will also use less energy.
You or a family member has been experiencing more allergy or asthma attacks lately. Experts say they can’t stress enough the importance of replacing air filters in the home. If someone in your house suffers from allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems, it’s even more important to keep up with HVAC filter changes. A typical sign you need to replace your filters is when allergy or asthma sufferers in your home begin experiencing their symptoms more frequently.
Your HVAC system plays a major role in keeping the air you breathe at home as clean and healthy as possible. In addition to regular filter changes, be sure to have experienced professionals check and maintain your equipment regularly. Another thing that may help with improving your indoor air quality is investing in a high-quality air purifier.
You’ve noticed there’s more dust near the air vents. If the furniture near your air vents seems dustier than usual, your HVAC filters are likely dirty. To determine if your filters are indeed filthy, you can try the “white sheet test.” Simply place a clean white sheet about five inches away from the vents for an hour. You’ll know your air filter is dirty if the sheet turns gray.
Cleaning or replacing air filters regularly is one of the easiest ways to prolong the life of an HVAC system. At All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning, we can recommend the best type of filter for your unit and help you improve its performance. Feel free to ask us questions about furnace inspection checklists, air conditioner problems and other HVAC-related concerns. Give us a call at (707) 400-6875 or fill out our contact form to reach our team. We serve clients in Vacaville, CA, and nearby communities.