Your HVAC system is key to keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. Whether you are dealing with a blistering heat wave, or if you are snowed in, having an HVAC unit that works well year-round is important. One of the unsung heroes of the HVAC is the filter. It is on the first line of defense in terms of air quality in your home. If you or a loved one have asthma or another respiratory issue, having a good filter can make life at home much better. Even if you don’t have any breathing problems, having clean air in your home can improve your overall health. The number one thing you can do for yourself and for your HVAC system is to change the filter regularly. Check out 360 Air Tech’s maintenance club to make sure your HVAC is properly maintained throughout the year!
When should I change the filter?
The general rule for changing a filter is about every 90 days. The filter itself will tell you how long to go between changes. Higher quality filters might last longer. Other factors to consider are your living environment.
- If you live in a home with someone with breathing issues…
- If someone in your home is a smoker…
- If you struggle with allergies or live somewhere with heavy pollen…
- If you have pets in the home…
- If you live in a heavily industrialized area or near congested roadways…
… if any of the above scenarios applies to you, consider changing your filter more often, or upgrading to a higher quality filter. If you struggle to remember when to change it, you can sign up for a delivery program. A filter is delivered every 90 days and when it arrives, you know it’s time to change. You should also have regular maintenance completed on your HVAC system twice a year – once in the spring, before turning on the air conditioning, and once in fall before you switch over to heating. If you ask your HVAC maintenance technician to change the filter during their regular visits, that means you only have to do 2 out of the 4 annual changes.
Why should I change the filter?
According to the EPA, indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. This is, in part, because outdoor air is naturally filtered through clouds, wind, and the water cycle. Indoor air is usually recycled through your HVAC system, so any pollutants, irritants, or bacteria in your home just stay there. Think about the chemicals you use for cleaning, the germs that become airborne when your kid sneezes, and all the hair and dander that come off your dog. All of those things are floating through your home, cycling and cycling and cycling. It is the filter’s job to remove all those particles from the air so you don’t breathe them in. However, a filter that is overdue for a change isn’t doing its job. It can become clogged, which means that particles it may have been able to trap previously will still be circulating through your air. It also means you are putting unnecessary strain on your system. HVAC systems are built to circulate air as efficiently as possible. A clogged filter means that the machine has to work harder to push air through, which is inefficient. A system that doesn’t run efficiently can result in a shortened life span (you’ll have to buy a new HVAC system sooner) and higher energy bills (the system is using more energy to run). Change the filter regularly – save money, breathe healthier.
What kind of filter should I use?
HVAC filters are rated on the MERV scale, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. While there are other scales, MERV is the most commonly used. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective a filter is at cleaning the air.
- MERV 1-4 ratings remove the basics, such as pollen, dust mites, spray paint particles, and fibers from textiles. These lower-rated filters are usually used in residential window units and are not very effective, especially when it comes to removing smaller particles.
- MERV 5-8 ratings are able to remove smaller particles, including mold spores, pet dander, and some cleaning chemical particles. This rating is used in basic whole-house HVAC units.
- MERV 9-12 ratings can remove legionella ( a bacteria that causes pneumonia), emissions from vehicles, lead dust, smoke, smog, and particles from coughs and sneezes. These types of filters are a step up from the basic residential filters and are also used in medical lab facilities.
- MERV 13-16 ratings remove dust from insecticides, smoke, and particles that contain viruses and bacteria. These are the top of the line filters that have the capability to filter out the widest range of airborne particles, which is why they are used in sterile environments, like hospital surgerys.
How do I actually change my filter?
Changing the filter in your HVAC system is really simple. Generally, all you have to do is remove the grating that covers the filter, take out the old filter, and put in the new filter. If you aren’t sure where your filter is located, or you’d just like some more in-depth direction, schedule a maintenance appointment with 360 Air Tech today, and we can give you a one-on-one lesson on filter changing as part of the service.
Changing the filter on your HVAC is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can help your system run efficiently. Save yourself money on energy bills, and lengthen your HVAC’s lifespan. Call 360 Air Tech with any questions, we are happy to help!