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Your HVAC air filter is an important part of your home’s air conditioning and heating system. It helps to keep the air in your home clean and free of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. A dirty air filter can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, which can lead to higher energy bills and a decrease in the lifespan of your system. Here’s what you should know about how often you should replace your HVAC filter, how to change it, and more.

What Is an HVAC Air Filter?

An HVAC air filter is a device that helps to clean the air in your home. It is located in the air conditioning or heating unit and is designed to trap dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. When the air conditioner or heater is turned on, the air is drawn into the unit and passes through the filter. The filter traps the contaminants, and the clean air is then circulated throughout the home.

Using an HVAC air filter properly offers several different benefits, the first of which is that the air quality in your home is improved significantly. Filters can help to improve the air quality in your home by removing irritants. This can help to reduce respiratory problems, such as asthma and allergies. Clean air filters can also help to increase the energy efficiency of your HVAC system and its lifecycle. This is because a dirty air filter can restrict airflow, which can make your system work harder and use more energy.

Your Personal Filter Change Schedule

There is no universal “best” time to replace your HVAC air filter. That’s because the frequency with which you should change your filter depends on a number of factors, including the type of filter you have, the size of your home, and the number of people who live in your home. Additionally, if you have pets, or if you suffer from allergies, it’s likely you will need to change your filter more often than if you don’t. Wildfires are also causing filters to require more frequent changes.

No one is expecting you to replace your HVAC filter every few weeks – this is simply impractical. Yet how often you change your HVAC filter does generally result in how clean your air will be and how well your system will function overall. That’s why it’s always a good idea to change your HVAC air filter every 1-3 months depending on the factors discussed above.

How to Change Your HVAC Filter Yourself

While each HVAC system might be configured slightly differently, how to change your HVAC air filter is a simple task that anyone can do. As long as you have a filter that’s designed to work with your system, it’s easy to switch out an old one and replace it with a new one. In fact, these systems are almost universally designed to enable homeowners to undertake simple maintenance like filter changes themselves. Here are the steps on how to change your air filter:

  1. Turn off your HVAC system. You should always do this before you do any service or maintenance on any appliance, your HVAC system included, as a matter of safety.
  2. Locate your air filter. The air filter is usually located in the furnace or air conditioner unit. You may need to consult the documentation that came with your HVAC unit or speak to the contractor that installed it or services it. Look for a rectangular element that looks place within but disconnected from the system at large.
  3. Remove the old air filter. This often simply involves sliding it from its frame. Be careful, as the old filter is likely dirty and dusty.
  4. Inspect the air filter frame for damage. If the frame is damaged, you will need to replace it. You may need to contact your HVAC contractor for assistance if this is the case.
  5. Install the new air filter. Make sure that the new air filter is the correct size and type for your HVAC system, as the wrong filter may not work as appropriately. If it’s too different, then it might not even fit. Your HVAC unit documentation should specify the type of filter you will need. You should be able to find them at most hardware stores or online retailers.
  6. Turn on your HVAC system. At this point, check to see if your system is working properly after you’ve replaced the filter. You can then throw out or recycle the old filter as appropriate.

Understanding How Often to Change Your HVAC Air Filter

Keeping your HVAC system running properly and efficiently relies upon regular service and maintenance. While most of these tasks should be taken care of by a professional HVAC service contractor, your air filter is the exception. You can and should replace your HVAC air filter yourself regularly, at least every 1 to 3 months depending on your need.

Changing your own HVAC filter doesn’t have to be hard. You can prepare by keeping a spare filter or two on hand so that you can change it immediately if the old filter becomes clogged. If you have pets, you may want to consider using an air filter that is designed to trap pet dander. If you have allergies, you may want to consider using an air filter that has a higher MERV rating, and if you live in a dusty or polluted area, change your filter more often. Following these simple steps can help you keep your HVAC system running efficiently and protect your home from allergens.

If you would like to make your system even more efficient and running better longer, consider a maintenance plan from Burns & McBride, local Delaware HVAC professionals for more than 70 years.

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