Ever feel like you change your air filters more frequently than your underwear?? Photo source: redfin.com
As a homeowner, you probably already know that replacing your AC air filter is a recurring job.
The simple rule is to replace them as soon as they get dirty.
But how do you know when you’re replacing them too frequently (and wasting money on replacement filters)?
The answer really depends on the kind of filter you’re using.
In general, the higher an air filter’s MERV rating, the more frequently you’ll need to replace it. So consider your filter’s rating if you think you’re replacing your filter too often.
Every filter has a MERV rating that refers to how many air contaminants it can catch. The higher the number (between 1 and 20), the fewer contaminants can pass through it.
Need a quick lesson on MERV ratings?
Now let’s take a look at the kinds of air filters available:
These filters are typically 1” thick and made from spun fiberglass. Fiberglass filters typically need to be replaced about once a month.
These filters are made from polyester or paper material. Pleated filters come in a variety of widths (typically from 1 to 6 inches thick).
In general, pleated filters should need to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.
These filters technically never need to be replaced because they are washable. Air contaminants are trapped between positively and negatively charged materials.
You can expect to vacuum or wash your electrostatic filter at least once a month.
HEPA filters are used in most home air purifying systems. They capture the most air contaminants and should be replaced every 12-18 months.
There are a number of reasons your filters get clogged and dirty more frequently than they should. Let’s take a look at some of them.
There are 2 options when it comes to your AC fan: AUTO and ON.
When you set your fan to ON, it runs 24/7. And when the air in your home circulates through your filter and AC system non-stop, it’s going to pick up dirt and air contaminants at a much faster rate.
What to do: Choose the fan setting that fits your situation and priorities.
If you have allergy and asthma sufferers in your home and you use a HEPA filter, use the ON setting while you’re home to remove more airborne contaminants and improve your air quality.
If air quality is less of a priority for you and your family, use the AUTO setting. This setting uses less energy, prevents indoor humidity and means you’ll need to change your filter less frequently.
More people walking into your home increases the amount of dirt and contaminants in your home. Furry pets also introduce hair, dirt, and pet dander.
And the more contaminants floating around in your home, the faster your filter gets dirty.
What to do: Consider investing in a whole home air filtration system. These advanced filtration systems pick up the contaminants left behind by guests and pets but also have a long service life.
Leaks in your air ducts introduce dust and dirt from areas like your attic. The more dirt a leaky duct system brings into your home, the more dirt your air filter accumulates.
What to do: Have your ductwork inspected by a professional.
They’ll be able to either repair or replace your duct system to ensure your ducts are leak free, keeping your utility bills lower and preventing you from replacing your filter frequently.
Note: If you have leaky ducts, the unfortunate truth is that you are wasting money every month. According to ENERGYSTAR, the average home loses 20-30% of conditioned air through duct leaks.
That catch your attention? Learn more in our article, “The Cost of Leaky Ducts”