The air filter in your furnace or A/C serves several important purposes. Its main function is to keep dirt and impurities out of your unit as the air cycles through it, since they can cause damage to the system’s components. As a side benefit, your filter also leaves the air clean and breathable as it circulates through your home, removing many of the harmful contaminants that can cause allergies, asthma and other health issues.
However, in order for your filter to function properly, it needs to be replaced regularly. Many homeowners tend to forget this important step. But if your filter is left in for too long, it can cause all sorts of problems. Here are six reasons why regular air filter replacement is essential.
- Saving energy. The more dirt and debris that build up in your air filter, the more it restricts the unit’s airflow. The less air there is flowing through your home, the longer it takes for your unit to heat or cool it to your desired temperature. This means your unit is running longer and consuming more energy. Heating and cooling seasons are already a burden on your energy bills, but regular air filter replacement can help lower those bills and keep them from getting out of hand.
- Keeping your unit working. Not only does having your unit running longer waste energy, it also wears out the system. The fan motor gets overworked as the unit has to produce more and more air to make up for the clogged filter. Over time, this damages your system, causing it to break down more frequently and ultimately shortening your unit’s life span.
- Indoor air quality. Your air filter removes contaminants from the air that passes through the filter’s media and holds them there. Once the filter gets too dirty, it’s unable to hold any more debris. That debris inevitably makes its way back into the air in your home. As the filter gets even more clogged, it can start actively blowing contaminants from the filter into your home, making it even dirtier than it was before. Regular air filter replacement removes these harmful contaminants and improves indoor air quality so you can breathe easy.
- Keeping your unit clean. As previously mentioned, your air filter’s main function is to keep harmful contaminants away from your system’s components to prevent damage. If you don’t replace your filter regularly, it won’t be able to do its job, and your unit will become contaminated and ultimately break down.
- Keeping your vents clear. Before the air gets from the HVAC unit to your home, it has to travel through the ducts. Dirt from a clogged filter can end up there, as well as in your home. Over time, this also causes debris to build up in your vents and registers, blocking them off and restricting airflow even more, which in turn causes higher energy bills.
- Reducing your carbon footprint. Having an HVAC unit that wastes energy isn’t just expensive, it’s also bad for the environment. That extra energy it takes to keep your unit running increases your carbon footprint. Since regular air filter replacement lowers the amount of energy your home uses, it also reduces that carbon footprint and helps keep your home environmentally friendly.
So, how often should air filter replacement be done? That depends on a number of factors. First of all, some filters are designed to last only around one to three months, while other, higher quality filters can last six months or longer. It also depends somewhat on your lifestyle. For instance, if you own pets, or if someone in your household smokes, these factors can lead to a filter becoming clogged more quickly.
To make sure you have a clean, functioning air filter at all times, check it every month. The filter is generally located with the air handler—the system’s main unit. Turn off the unit for safety, then look for where the filter is installed. Slide it out and examine it. If the filter is white and you can see light coming through it, then it’s clean, and you can put it back. But if it’s gray with dust and opaque, then it’s time to replace it. Be sure to have a new one on hand, and slide it into place where the other one was, using the arrows on the filter as a guide.
For more advice on air filter replacement and other HVAC issues in the Savannah area, contact Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning.