When was the last time you changed your home’s air filters? While most people know that this is a task that needs to be done on a regular basis, it often falls through the cracks. On the list of household responsibilities, seldom are filters placed at the top of the agenda.
Despite how busy life can get, changing your AC filters regularly will help ensure that your air conditioning system works optimally. By the same token, less energy usage translates into lower energy bills. Therefore, this undertaking should be one of the top priorities on your To Do list, after all.
How often should you change your AC air filters?
The answer to this question is: It depends on the circumstances. Things that come into play when making this decision include the following:
- How many people live in your home
- Whether you have any pets
- Whether there are any allergy sufferers
- Whether anyone smokes in your house
- The type of air filters you purchase
- Whether you live in a highly polluted area
If you have no pets, decent air filters, and no smokers or allergy sufferers in your home, you can get away with changing your filters every three months. If you do have a pet, you’ll have to change them once a month. If you or any family member suffers from allergies and have no pets, you can wait about 45 days between installations.
What’s a good air filter?
There are several different types of air filters, and they all serve a particular purpose.
Types of Air Filters
HEPA Air Filters
Generally speaking, HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air filters trap a higher number of air pollutants that are often missed by other filters, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores. So if you have pets or allergies, HEPA filters are a good option.
Pleated Air Filters
Pleated air filters have more surface area because of their zigzag pattern. Therefore, if you live in a highly polluted environment, these have more capacity to trap dust and allergens.
Fiberglass filters are cheaper than other types of filters, so they are a tempting alternative for people on a budget. However, due to their lower quality, you have to change them more often. As a result, you end up spending more money.
Even among each category of filters, you’ll notice that they each have what’s called a MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). The higher the value, the more pollutants it’ll be able to catch.
How to Change an AC Air Filter
How to change your air filter depends on what type of air conditioner you have in your home. Regardless of which unit you own, always shut off power to the AC before changing the filters.
It’s also good to know whether your filters are washable or disposable air filters. This information should be included in the instruction manual. If you can’t locate it, look for the filter’s brand and do some online research.
Mini Split Air Conditioners
You’ll need a step stool or a ladder to reach the mini-split AC unit. Once you’re on it, open the front panel. You’ll see a lever on the side to lock it in place to keep it open. Inside, there are several air filters. Remove each of them individually and follow the instruction manual on how to take care of them.
Central Air Conditioners
The filter for central air conditioners is located at the bottom of the air handler, which is the portion of the system that’s inside a utility closet or attic. You’ll see the edge of the filter just by standing in front of the AC. Pull it out, and follow the care instructions that came with it. Disposable ones can be simply thrown away; while washable ones have specific care requirements.
There may also be filters behind every return vent in your home, so unscrew them to verify whether you need to replace those too.
Using both hands, pull the bottom of the front panel away from the air conditioner. Once it’s released, do the same thing with the top portion of the panel. Once you remove it, you’ll see the air filter right behind it, covering the entire length and width of the unit.
Pull out the air filter. If the filter is washable, run it under a low-pressure water stream until all the dust washes off. Let it fully dry before reinstalling it. Placing it back in while it’s still damp will lead to mold growth. If your home is getting too hot and you want to turn on the AC as soon as possible, use a hairdryer to dry the filters.
HVAC Technicians in Central Florida
At Complete Air Mechanical, we have experienced HVAC professionals who can help you with any of your air conditioning needs. We provide service in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties, and we offer financing options.