January 10, 2021

Your Jacksonville, FL, home’s heating and cooling system works year-round to keep your home comfortable. Every time it performs a heating or cooling cycle, air is blown through the filter. The filter traps little particles from your home’s air, such as dust, dander, and pollen. After a few months of use, the air filter’s pores get full. A clogged filter interferes with the proper functioning of your heating and cooling system, so it’s important to know when to change it. Follow these tips on how often to change your air filter so that you can enjoy a comfortable home with clean, healthy air.

Inspect the Air Filter Every Month

It’s important to inspect your heating and cooling system’s air filter once every month. Checking it will only take a couple of minutes. Before you check the filter, turn off the heating and cooling system. You can do this at the thermostat or with the system’s power switch. If there’s a heating or cooling cycle in progress, allow it to finish before you turn off the system’s power. Before you check the filter, wear personal protective equipment. Loose fiberglass fibers, dust, and other particles could trigger respiratory, eye, or throat irritation. A face mask and goggles will keep the particles out of your eyes, nose, and throat. Wear a pair of gloves. Access the air filter’s housing. There may be a clip, screw, or clamp holding it closed. Once you open the housing’s door, just slide the filter out.

Minimum Frequency for Changing the Air Filter

If your inspection reveals a filter with a buildup of dust and debris, it’s time for a filter change. During the peak heating season or cooling season, the filter will likely be dirty after one or two months. Avoid going more than three months between air filter replacements. Doing so could lower your heating or cooling system’s energy efficiency by 15% or more. Operating the heating or cooling system with a dirty filter also causes excessive wear and tear on the system, which could lead parts to wear out faster than they usually do.

How Often to Replace Filters Based on Their Thickness

Air filters come in a range of sizes. They’re measured in length, width, and thickness. Thinner air filters have less surface area, so they get clogged in less time than a thicker filter. If your filter is just one to two inches thick, its pores will likely be full after a month of use. If your filter is at least three inches thick, it should be fine to use for at least two months. You’ll still need to check the filter monthly. Even if your five-inch filter is dirty after just one month since you installed it, you need to replace it.

Replace Filters More Frequently If You Have a Respiratory Condition

If you or someone in your home has a chronic respiratory problem, such as asthma, allergies, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, your health will benefit from frequent air filter changes. A clogged filter can’t trap any more particles, so running your heating or cooling system with a dirty filter will have a negative impact on your home’s air quality. If germs seem to be spreading through your home, it’s worth checking and replacing the air filter.

Protect Vulnerable Household Members With Frequent Air Filter Changes

Some people are more sensitive to respiratory irritants than others. Babies are particularly vulnerable to respiratory infections and particles that get into their lungs. If your household includes a baby, be sure to replace the air filter every month. Similarly, elderly people also have fragile respiratory symptoms. They may also have chronic health problems that could be worsened by breathing dirty air. If anyone in your household is over the age of 80, consider monthly air filter changes.

Change Filters After Home Repairs and Renovations

Many people have home renovations or repairs performed. If you’ve recently had a drywall repair, this activity generates a lot of dust and particles. Sanding or refinishing hardwood floors, removing a popcorn-style ceiling, or installing new baseboards, trim or electrical fixtures can also create a lot of airborne particles. Those particles could clog the air filter within just a day or two. After you finish any of these home repairs or replacements, change the air filter.

Replace Filters More Frequently If You Own Pets

Dogs and cats are favorite household pets. They’re fun, relaxing, and lovable. However, most of them shed a great deal of fur and dander. The dander particles will get taken up through your heating and cooling system’s intake ducts, and they’ll end up stuck in the air filter. If you have more than one furry pet, or your dog or cat has a long coat, you may need to change the filter every month. You can cut down on dander and fur shedding by grooming your pet regularly. Consider brushing your pet outside if possible. If you do brush them indoors, use your vacuum to collect the loose fur and dander. Choose a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These filters capture tiny particles, including bacteria and viruses. HEPA filters trap 99.97% of particles measuring 0.3 microns or smaller in size, which includes pet dander, saliva, and more.

Install a New Filter After Buying Your Home

If you recently purchased your home, it’s a good idea to install a new air filter. The previous owners may have had pets or used products that released a lot of particles. Starting with a clean air filter will also ensure that your home has the best possible level of air quality. You’ll also benefit from the maximum efficiency of the heating and cooling system when the filter is new and clean.

Tips for Changing the Air Filter

When inserting a new air filter, make sure it’s in the correct orientation. Most have arrows that align with arrows on the filter’s housing. Write the date on the filter’s frame. Put it on the side that you can see when you open the filter’s housing. Set a monthly reminder on your phone so that you remember to check the air filter.

What to Do With the Old Filter After Removing It

Disposable air filters should be wrapped in a plastic garbage bag and sealed. They’re not recyclable. Avoid taking them apart. Tearing the fiberglass filter media could release particles that irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Dispose of the wrapped air filter with the rest of your household trash.

At McGowan's Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re the trusted providers of air filters in Jacksonville. We’re the right choice for all of your heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, and replacement services. Homeowners also count on us for indoor air quality solutions, duct cleaning, attic insulation, and heating and cooling system design services. If you’re a business owner in or near Jacksonville, we’re ready to provide you with quality commercial HVAC services. For more details about when to change your air filter and which air filter is the right one for your home’s heating and cooling system, get in touch with us at McGowan's Heating & Air Conditioning.

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