HVAC filter changing cleaning frequency

On HVAC Filter Changing or Cleaning Frequency

As any homeowner or even longtime renter is likely already aware, filters are some of the most important components in your HVAC system. Your filter traps contaminants and pollutants before they make it into your breathing air, limiting their presence while also maintaining quality air flow within your system — but they will only perform this job effectively if they are changed or cleaned at the proper intervals.

At Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, while many of our services are in larger areas like furnace installation or repair, we’re happy to help with basic maintenance areas for your day-to-day HVAC needs — including filters. One of the most common questions we’re asked by our clients in this area: How often do I need to change or clean my air filters? Here’s a general primer on this and a few related concepts to help steer you in the right direction.

Air Filter Basics and Importance

For those who are unaware, HVAC air filters are a vital part of your system for a number of reasons. First, they keep dust and dirt from being put into the air you breathe by trapping it within the filter itself — while some particles may pass through this material, the main purpose is to prevent these contaminants from reaching your lungs or having an adverse effect on anyone in the area, including family members or pets.

In addition to this, filters also play a crucial role in the functionality of your system. When a filter becomes dirty or clogged, it can hamper or even damage the quality of air flow throughout your compartment — making it harder for hot or cold air to reach desired locations. This is why it’s important to change or clean the filter frequently, which we’ll dig into further below.

How Often Should Filters Be Changed/Cleaned?

There are a few factors that will help answer this question, including your geographic location, the type of filter you have installed in your system, and the number of people using or occupying the home. These factors must also be considered alongside one another.

Generally speaking, average cleaning or changing frequency for most standard filters is about once a month. However, you may need to do this as often as once every two weeks or as infrequently as once a year depending on your situation. The best way to determine what’s right for you is to combine basic manufacturer information with your own basic inspection — is your filter clearly becoming dirty and clogged after less than a month? Or on the flip side, has your air usage been limited, and is your filter still virtually spotless despite being in place for over a month? These and similar factors will impact how often they’re changed or cleaned.

One general tip here, though: Be aggressive about changing or cleaning filters. If you’re unsure whether a filter needs a change-out, just go ahead and do it — filters aren’t that expensive in the long run, and the benefits your system will see are worth making the change a few days early in some cases.

Specific Signs Filters Need Replacement

Now, in other cases, there will be noticeable signs throughout your home and HVAC system that your filters have clogged up and require replacement (or cleaning, for multi-use models). These include:

  • Trouble heating or cooling: If your system suddenly is struggling to meet your desired temperatures, and you’ve discovered no other readily available culprit, the issue could be a dirty or clogged filter. In this case, you’ll want to inspect the system and filters to be sure.
  • Sudden noises: Strange creaking or popping sounds coming from your HVAC unit may indicate a more serious issue with the motor — but these sounds could also result from a worn-down or damaged fan assembly due to a dirty or clogged filter. Inspecting and changing your air filters regularly will help you avoid this problem in most cases.
  • Excessive dust in vents: If there is a noticeable amount of dust building up inside your ductwork or in the vents throughout your home, it may be time for a change-out — especially if you use the HVAC system frequently and there is no easily-identifiable reason for the excess dust (for example, you recently had construction work done in your home, or a similar event).
  • Unpleasant odors: If an otherwise clean and clear air filter suddenly smells strongly of chemicals or any other foul odors, it may be time for replacement — this generally indicates a chemical reaction between the elements in a dirty filter and the air surrounding it.
  • Increasing energy bills: Have your HVAC bills gone up compared to this time last year, with no other explanation? This could be a sign that your filter is dirty and reducing the efficiency of your system — requiring it to work harder, over an extended period of time, to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Greater frequency of respiratory symptoms: If you or anyone else in the home have begun experiencing more frequent allergy or asthma attacks, it may be time to inspect your HVAC system and filters. This is especially true if these symptoms increase in severity or duration, rather than following a normal allergy season’s schedule.

As you can see, there are a number of factors to be aware of when it comes to your HVAC filters. For more on this, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services throughout Utah, speak to the staff at Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric today.