One of the main players in keeping pollutants out of your home is your home air filter. Unfortunately, if you don’t change the filter as recommended, you and your family’s health may suffer. It is estimated that air pollution in homes is two to five times higher than it is outside the homes. This is true regardless of whether the home is in a highly industrial or rural area.
The good news is, there are some indications that let you know for sure it’s time to change your home air filter. Learn what those indications are, as well as why changing the filter is so important here.
The Home Air Filter is Dirty
Let’s face it, your eyes don’t lie. If your home air filter appears dirty, it’s time to replace it with a new one. The filter is going to need changing every one to three months. However, the frequency is dependent on just how much you use your particular system. Everyone’s habits and lifestyles vary, but at the very least, inspect your filter at least monthly to determine if it needs to be changed or not. This represents the easiest ways to avoid issues resulting from a dirty air filter.
Reduced Air Quality
If your system is running with a dirty air filter, you are (essentially) just recirculating and refilling your home with unhealthy, dirty air. If the air quality in your home takes a toll, your well-being may, too.
Have you or someone in your house experienced more headaches than usual? Does your family overall seem sick or congested much of the time? If so, your dirty home air filter may be to blame. Inspect the filter to see if there’s a problem. If so, change it as immediately, if not sooner.
Increased Utility Bills
It doesn’t really matter what you do, the air filter is eventually going to get dirty. If you continue to run your system with a dirty 2 or 3 dollar filter installed for a long period of time, you are asking for more expensive issues and problems to occur.
The dirtier a filter is, the harder the HVAC system has to work to function properly. This means your AC system is working harder and using more power. When you change the filter regularly, you can avoid these high electric bills.
Your Home Seems Extra Dusty
If your air conditioner or furnace filter is clogged, it simply can’t filter out all of the allergens and pollutants floating around in the air. This is going to significantly reduce the indoor air quality in your home. While there are some who find it hard to recognize signs of poor indoor air quality, there’s a sign that can’t be mistaken – dust.
If you have noticed your home is collecting more dust than usual, it likely means it’s time to change the home air filter.
The AC Doesn’t Cool Properly
Another important indication of issues with a home air filter is if there is weak airflow from the vents. You may notice your home isn’t as cool as it once was. If you do, there are several things that could cause this. One thing to keep in mind is your whole problem may be due to a dirty air filter. Try to change the air filter and see if that helps to correct the problem. If it does, you may have just saved yourself a service call to a technician.
The Unit has Started Overheating
Another common indication of an excessively dirty or clogged air filter is if the unit has started overheating. Does the system start expelling hot air for (seemingly) no reason? If so, then there’s a good chance your air filter is to blame. Change the filter to see if this corrects the problem.
A Spike in Allergy Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, it may be necessary to change the air filter even more often than we mentioned earlier. A fresh, new filter can help save you and others in your home additional issues, especially during pollen season. However, if allergy season has passed and you or someone in the house is still suffering symptoms, then it could be because your filter is dirty or clogged. Go ahead and replace the filter.
The Unit Fails the “White Sheet Test”
Have you ever heard of the “white sheet test?” This is a simple and DIY method to figure out how clean your air filter really is.
To conduct the test, you first need a white sheet. Once you have it, hang it five to eight inches away from a vent for about an hour. The grayer your sheet gets, the dirtier that means your air filter is. Take time to change it.
There are Pets in Your House
Even though this isn’t necessarily a sign, it is an indication you may need to change the air filter more often than not. Most dogs and cats shed. Their hair has a tendency to wind up everywhere. This includes into your homes air filter. In the long run, this can impact the performance of your heating and cooling system.
If you have several pets in your home, you should change your filter much more often. Again, the best way to know for sure is by checking the filter regularly. We suggest you check it no less than monthly. With pets, you may want to take a peek even more often, like every 2 weeks.
Also, depending on the current season, you may need to change the filter more often. After all, animals shed more in the summer. Be sure to keep this in mind when checking your filters.
Tips for Choosing the Best Home Air Filter
Now you know the signs you need to watch for in knowing when and why to replace your home air filter, you also need to figure out what type of filter is right for your needs. Getting to know the basics of home air filters is the best way to know what kind you need when you head out shopping for those new filers.
The filter advertising the highest efficiency level isn’t going to necessarily be right for all HVAC systems. There are some filters with resistance levels that may compromise the way the system operates. This can prevent air from moving freely and reduce efficiency. It’s a good idea to consult with your system’s owner’s manual to determine what resistance level is right for your system.
When you start assessing home air filters, the MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – ratings are the most important to understand. These are the numbers that indicate how efficient the filter is at trapping and holding onto particles that measure between .3 and 10 microns. The MERV ratings begin at one and go to 20. The higher numbers indicate better efficiency. A basic air filter usually has a rating of four or less. Those measuring between five and eight can capture the majority of indoor air pollutants. Filters with a rating of nine to 16 trap virtually all airborne particles, and those over 16 can also capture bacteria.
Common Types of Home Air Filters
Today, air filters are available in several, common types. Understanding the different types can help you choose the right one.
Keep in mind, fiberglass filters will protect the HVAC unit. However, they are unable to improve overall indoor air quality.
A reusable filter may seem appealing, but they usually have extremely low MERV ratings. They also require much more maintenance than other types of air filters. They really don’t save you enough in the purchase price to offset the time you’ll spend cleaning them.
Pleated filters are a common option for the majority of residential heating and cooling systems. Try to purchase pleated filters with MERV ratings between nine and 16 for the best results.
HEPA filters are extremely efficient air filters. However, they are usually reserved for being used in industrial environments and hospitals.
Is it Time to Change Your Home Air Filter?
When it comes to your home air filter, you can not afford to ignore its condition. As the Grand Strand’s most dependable and reliable heating and air conditioning service company, we at Swift Services Heating, Cooling & Electrical can help guide you to which home air filter is the best for your system. Being informed is the best way to ensure your home’s filters are working properly and that no issues will occur.
Call Swift Services Heating, Cooling & Electrical at 843-236-9060, or fill out our short form and someone will contact you as quickly as possible to answer any questions you may have about your home air conditioning system and it’s air filter and whether it’s time for a system check-up. You can save time, money and further breakdowns in the long term, as well as making sure you’re prepared to face whatever the weather outside. Our Swift Services technicians are trained to help assist you in knowing whether it’s better to repair your current heating and cooling system or replace it with a new, more energy efficient system for your Grand Strand area home.