Many homeowners in Florida have heard they need to replace their AC filters every month. However, it is easy for busy people to overlook this task; some might find they go several months before remembering to replace their AC filter. Others might regularly complete this task on time but wonder if it’s necessary.
The high-level answer to how often you should change your AC filter in Florida is anywhere from 6-12 months to 30 days. The recommended filter replacement time varies widely depending on many factors, such as the number of people and pets living in the household, how often you use your system, the age of your system, flooring type, allergies, and more.
9 Factors That Determine How Often to Change AC Air Filter in Your House
There are several things to consider when determining a more accurate air conditioning filter replacement schedule. Some of the most common factors that affect how often you should change your air filter are:
1. Household Size
An average-sized family of 4 would have to replace their air conditioning filter more frequently than a single person. This is because the more people in your household, the more dirt and air fibers are pulled into the filters. Therefore, you need to change your air filter a lot more often than you would if a single person with no animals in the household.
2. How Often You Use Your System
Another point to consider is how often you run your HVAC system. In Florida, many homeowners run their system almost daily to keep the indoor temperature comfortable and high humidity levels at bay. However, if you are one of the few homeowners who run the system less frequently, you may extend the time between filter changes.
For a full-time residence with more than a single occupant, it’s not recommended you go longer than 90 days without replacing your air conditioning filter.
If the residence is a vacation home where you don’t use the system as much, you could change the filter every few months.
If you live in Florida and run your air conditioner all day every day, you would need to change it as frequently as every 30 days. You’ll want to check it at least every month to be sure it’s not dirty.
3. Pets Play a Part
Regardless of your household size, adding one cat or dog to the equation means you should replace your air conditioning filter at least every 60 days. The filter may need changing even more frequently if you have several pets, even in a single-occupant household. This is because animals bring a lot of dust and pollen into the air. With that being said, you need to change your air filter a lot more than you would with no pets in the home.
4. Carpets Can Vary Your Filter Change
If you have carpet, you should check more often than 90 days to see how dirty your filter is. Carpets are thicker and tend to hold onto dirt, pollen, and other particles. Therefore, carpets trap more dust and other particles compared to their wood or tile counterparts. This all ends up in your air conditioning filter. So, if you have carpets, you will need to check your air filter more often.
5. Smoking Inside
Smoking indoors will cause your air conditioning filter to fill up faster, so you must replace it more frequently. This is because smoking releases particles into the air and then goes into your filter. This can make your filter dirty or even clog your filter. Be sure to check your filter more often than every 90 days if you smoke indoors.
6. Living With Severe Allergies
If someone in your family has sensitive allergies, changing your air conditioning filter more frequently can help reduce their symptoms inside your home. Try checking your filter at least once a month to see if it needs to be replaced. You will know if it needs to be replaced by how dirty it is or if it’s clogged. Changing your filter more often can help a lot with your or a loved one’s allergies.
7. The Size of Your AC Filter
Smaller air filters will fill up faster than systems that use larger sizes. The standard size is 20 x 20 x 1, so you can judge whether your system uses a small or large filter. If it is not 20 x 20 x 1, you may need to check your filter sooner than 90 days.
8. The Type of AC Filter
There are numerous types of air filters. Some are designed to be washed off rather than replaced. For example, pleated filters may last longer than flat filters because they have a larger surface area to capture particulates in the air. However, the level of filtration can also vary by the air filter, so it’s important to review the filtration manufacturer’s recommendations regarding when to clean or replace the exact type of filter you are using.
HEPA filters are made to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. This means that these types of filters perform differently than your standard filters. Additionally, a MERV rating reports a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. Filters with a higher MERV rating trap specific types of particles better.
9. Indoor Air Quality
A final factor to consider relates to air quality in the home. Everything from the number of people in the home to pets, smoking, and more can impact air quality. For example, a single person with no pets may extend the time between filter changes, while a busy home with several pets might want to stick closely to a monthly filter change schedule. The indoor air quality can be impacted so easily, so you need to be aware of your filter’s health during this time.
How Often to Replace Your AC Air Filter
How often you should change your air filter depends on your combination of the above factors.
A three-person household in an “average” new construction home with no pets should replace the air conditioning filter every 90 days. A single person could even change their air filter less frequently than every 90 days. A single occupant with no pets could change their air filter every six months and be fine.
For every pet you have in the household, you should replace the air filter 30 days sooner.
A household with one dog or cat should change its air conditioning filter every 60 days. The more pets you have, the more frequently you must replace the air filter.
Do you have a vacation home that you don’t occupy full-time? Depending on how often you use the system, you could change the air conditioning filter every 6-12 months. So it really just comes down to how often you use that system and home.
What does an AC air filter do?
You shed 500 million skin cells and up to 100 hair follicles daily. Multiply that by the number of people in your household and any pets you may have. Your air conditioner sucks air inside your home for processing inside the unit.
Without the air filter, millions of dead skin cells would get blown back through your AC unit. The air conditioning filter protects the inner mechanics of your HVAC system from getting gunked up with all those dead skin cells. On top of that, it also prevents airborne allergens like mold, pollen, and dander from being distributed in your home.
Think of your air filter like a sponge. The air filter gets more and more saturated as it does its job. Eventually, it becomes too full to “soak up” any more dirt. Your air conditioner loses 5-15% of its effectiveness when the air conditioning filter is too full.
Why do you need to change your AC filter?
Your air conditioner pulls air inside your home and passes it through the evaporator coils. The evaporator coils are the metal A-frame that sits behind your air filter. Your AC uses refrigerant to make these metal coils cold.
One of your air conditioner’s many jobs is to remove water vapor from the air in your home or “dehumidify” it. Water vapor is the gas form of water; there’s some amount in almost all the air outside. When your AC passes the airstream over the cold evaporator coils, this cools the water gas and makes it denser, turning it into water. The water droplets collect on the evaporator coils and drip into the condensate drain pan below.
What happens if you don’t change the air filter in your home?
Your air conditioner is calibrated to work under specific conditions. Your unit needs the right amount of water to collect on the coils, the right volume of air passing over the evaporator coils, and the right air pressure to work correctly. A dirty air conditioning filter allows less air to pass through the evaporator coils.
Your unit usually depends on the coils becoming saturated enough for water to drip off. When there isn’t enough air passing over the coils, water droplets can hang out on there too long. This is a problem because water on the coils for too long can freeze instead of dripping into the condensate pan. A dirty air filter is one of the leading causes of a frozen air handler! Be vigilant about changing the air conditioning filters when they’re dirty.
Call Complete Air Mechanical Today for AC Maintenance & Repair in Central Florida
Have you experienced an AC freeze because of a dirty air conditioning filter? Do you need advice on how to run your HVAC system most efficiently? Concerned about air quality or need assistance with your filters? We’re happy to help.