How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

how often should you change your air filter

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Every year, up to four million people die due to poor indoor air quality whether from their HVAC systems or environmental factors. While most people won’t end up in a dire situation because of their HVAC, many people could be suffering harsher breathing issues than necessary. If you don’t know how often you should change your air filter, you could be harming yourself or your family inadvertently.

Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to changing your air filter.

The Basics

Understanding when to change your air filter has to do with the conditions of your home. While some cheap filters made out of fiberglass might need to be replaced every 30 days or so, others last longer. High-end pleated filters can last for up to 6 months on a standard HVAC system.

While you might have a tight budget, your filter is not the place to pinch pennies. Spending a little extra on pleated air filters will allow you to get more out of each filter. Stick to a general rule of changing your filter every 90 days or so.

Your filter is there to collect more dirt and dust over time, so if you find a reason to believe it’s doing more work than normal, replace it more often.

Who’s In Your Home?

Having people in your home with asthma and allergies or having pets means you’ll have to change your filter more often. Having young children or older folks around should also urge you to change your filter a little more frequently.

People with asthma and allergies are very sensitive to what’s in the air. Airborne particles can get into their lungs and cause irritation or even illness. They’ll require that you change your filter more frequently, like every 6 weeks.

Homes with pets like cats and dogs ensure that there’s more hair, dust, and dander in the air. When filters collect more of that material in their filter, they can also make your home smell. During seasonal changes, animals shed a little bit more, so be sure to change your filters during these periods.

Homes with children and older folks need to have clear air. Young and old lungs are sensitive and require filters to be changed more often.

Your System Impacts Things

The amount of time that you spend using your heating and cooling system will impact how often you need to switch filters. The size of your home also makes a difference. Generally, you also need to consider the air quality of your home, which can be influenced by outside environmental factors.

If you’re in a temperate climate and you have to use your HVAC system frequently, just a few hours a day, your filter can last for a while. It could last for up to an entire year if you don’t use it often. However, if you’re running your system on a constant basis, you’ll need to change your filter every few weeks.

Large houses have much different needs than smaller houses. They’re pumping out different amounts of air and responsible for different levels of temperature controls.

Small homes require much less frequent filter changes as they aren’t working as hard as larger homes. Appliances are usually built with smaller filters overall though, so they might need to be changed just as frequently as larger system filters.

People who live in cities versus people who live in rural areas might face different environmental factors that impact their filters. The air that’s inside or outside your home is going to make a difference in how often you replace your filters. Consider replacing your filter more frequently if you’re close to a facility that puts out pollution or is near smokestacks.

Pay Attention to Your System

Any use at all is going to lower the lifespan of your air filter. The job of your air filter is to trap in dirt and dust but it’s vital to know when your filter has trapped in too much dirt and needs to be replaced.

As you can see, there are no hard and fast rules to let you know when it’s time to replace your filter. You’ll have to get to know your system over time and understand when your HVAC system needs your assistance.

If your filter is only showing a little bit of dirt and the filter material behind it is still visible, it’s unlikely that you have to replace your filter. Beyond the point when you can see the material beneath the dirt and dist, it’s time to replace the filter. Think about whether or not that dust is obstructing your system’s ability to take in air.

For any new homeowner or owners of a new HVAC system, it takes some time to get to know your system. Schedule yourself a check every week or two to see how it’s looking. If you smell a musty odor or you see the filter and cover with dust all over it, change your filter.

It’s smart to change all of your filters at the same time rather than to look at them individually and be running around checking all of them separately.

Still Asking How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter?

If you’re still unsure how often should you change your air filter, consider the particulars of your home. It comes down to the way you live, where you live, and lots of unpredictable environmental factors. You’ll make your home more livable when you change your filters often.

If you think your AC system might need a repair, check out our repair guide for tips on how to tackle things.

John Daner
John Daner

HVAC Technician with 12+ years experience in the field.