Does it feel like you’re constantly changing the air filters in your HVAC system? The kind of filter you’re using will determine how often you need to change them. Filters have a MERV rating from 1 to 20 that reflects how many air contaminants it can catch. Higher MERV ratings mean fewer contaminants that can pass through them. Air filters with a high MERV rating will need to be changed more frequently.
What Do Air Filters Do in a House?
You wouldn’t think that such a small part could make such a big difference, but it does. Filters often become a low priority due to a misunderstanding of what they actually do. We know the air filter works to trap air contaminants, but the filter’s main job is to protect the HVAC unit itself from harmful things in the air. Your HVAC system works much better and more efficiently with a clean air filter.
Types of Air Filters
Fiberglass. These filters are made from spun fiberglass and are typically 1” thick. They need to be replaced every month.
Pleated. These filters are typically 1 to 6 inches thick and are made from paper or polyester material. They last longer because the pleats increase the surface area. They need to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.
Electrostatic. These filters are washable and therefore don’t really need to be replaced. Air contaminants are trapped between negatively and positively charged materials. They will need to be vacuumed or washed at least once a month.
HEPA. These filters trap the most air contaminants and are the filters that are used most in home purifying systems. They need to be replaced every 12-18 months.
Reasons You Might Have to Change Your Air Filter More Often
1. You have lots of people and/or pets in your home. The more bodies you have in your home, the more contaminants you will have floating around. Pets will add dander, hair, and dirt to the mix. You can do a lot prevent the number of contaminants in the air by investing in a whole home air filtration system.
2. You leave thermostat fan set to ON. Your HVAC fan has two settings: AUTO and ON. If it’s set to ON, it will run 24/7. That means the air in your home circulates through the filter and system non-stop and will pick up air contaminants much more quickly. Set the fan to ON if you use HEPA filters to remove more air contaminants and improve air quality. Set the fan to AUTO if air quality isn’t a big concern. You’ll use less energy, prevent indoor humidity, and you won’t need to change the filter as often.
3. The air ducts are leaky. Leaky air ducts allow more dust and dirt to enter your home and the air filter will accumulate more debris. You should have your ductwork inspected to repair or replace any areas that are leaking. Leaky air ducts waste money every month. Leak free duct systems will lower your utility bills and allow you to change the filters less often.