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Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I change my air filter?
Just like changing the oil in your car, your HVAC air filterrequires changing on a regular basis – it is 100% required maintenance. We simply can’t stress enough as to how important this is.
Although this may sound like overkill, you should check your filter every month. This is particularly true during the heavy use months, which are usually the summer and winter months for the vast majority of folks in the United States, Canada and Europe. If your air filter looks dirty, change it right then and there. Don’t try and pinch pennies. At the very minimum, however, you need to change your air filter every 3 months.
Why is it important to change my air filter? My Air Conditioner/Furnace seems to be operating just fine!
This sounds like a great way for the air filter companies to make money.
The dirt accumulated in your air filter slows down the flow of air. This forces your system to work harder in order to keep you cool or warm. Said another way, simply because you feel cool (or warm) air blowing from your air ducts does not mean you’re receiving all the cooling (or heating) comfort that you’re paying for. A clean air filter also helps your system by preventing dust and dirt from building-up within your system – something that over time leads to expensive maintenance and/or premature HVAC system failure. How depressing would it be to have to repair or replace your HVAC system simply because you failed to stick to a regular maintenance schedule? There’s no need to be cynical – we’re providing this advice because we’re trying to help you save money in the long run. You can buy HVAC air filters at just about any Home Depot, Lowe’s, local hardware store or similar.
Are there multiple filters that I have to change?
The air conditioner unit outside your house is known as a condenser. It does NOT have a filter in it. Therefore, the only filter you need to change is the one located inside the home – in your furnace or air handler. Obviously, if you have more than one unit inside your home (i.e. perhaps one unit for each floor of your house), then you should change the filter in each of these units.
I keep checking my Air Conditioning filter, but it’s almost never dirty. Is that a problem?
This is an indication that air is passing through gaps in your ductwork as it returns to the furnace/air handler. Look for tears in the flex duct or gaps in the sheet metal duct back to the furnace/air handler. Needless to say, this means your HVAC unit is not running efficiently which comes at a cost ($$$) to the homeowner. It also indicates that the system is not cleansing the air as it should be, which can lead to a host of other problems (especially for those with allergies). This issue can be resolved by patching the appropriate area(s) with aluminum tape or duct sealer.
Can I run A/C or Heat without a filter?
Of course – and you can also drive 90 MPH on the highway blindfolded. In short, it’s not a good idea. At a minimum this will cause the evaporator coil on the furnace/air handler to plug which will restrict air flow and cause icing on the air conditioning system. It’s also guaranteed to shorten the life of your system…not to mention household circulation of poor air quality.
In the final analysis, changing your HVAC air filter is relatively easy to do and should be viewed as mandatory, required maintenance. Those that do it regularly might be hard pressed to see the short-term benefits, but will likely reap the long-term rewards!