If you’ve been feeling a little bit smothered, tired, itchy, or noticed frequent allergic flare-ups recently, and you’ve added nothing new in your home, then it might be time to check your air filters.
These physical symptoms are just some telltale signs of poor air quality. Indoor Air Quality Check Up is something homeowners or apartment dwellers should always keep in mind, especially if they have pets, immuno-compromised housemates, or if they live in highly industrialized areas. One of the immediate things to check out should you notice any health issues popping out are the air filters of your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) units.
Air filters are made to collect contaminants and pollutants like pollen, dust, and other solid particles in the air. Since these HVAC parts come in all shapes and sizes, knowing how and when to replace these is as important as knowing how frequently you should change your bedsheets to maintain cleanliness in your home.
To get value for money from your HVAC system and maintain excellent indoor air quality at home, here’s a brief discussion about the best time to change your air filter.
Importance Of The Air Filter
As mentioned, air filters are made to catch contaminants like dirt and debris to prevent these particles from clogging the air ducts. Dirty HVAC air filters cause:
- Fan motor strains: this reduces ventilation and adds to the wear and tear of the motor
- Malfunctioning of HVAC systems: which leads to inefficient and ineffective equipment that may lead to equipment damage;
- Build-up of pollutants and contaminants: which means these irritants are released back into the air you and your family breathe in;
- Increased energy bill: is the overall result of an inefficient HVAC system due to clogged air filters.
When Should You Change Your Air Filter
Regularly changing your air filter is one of the things you must habitually do to maintain the quality of air inside your home. As a general rule, air filters should be replaced every 90 days. However, the factors mentioned above affect the frequency of changing your air filter.
The frequency, however, may depend on several factors like:
- The number of pets: the more pets you own, the more frequently you change your air filter. You can change air filters every 60 days if you have just one pet. More pets mean you have to change your air filters every 20-45 days.
- Immuno-compromised family members / small children: for households with small children or family members who are immuno-compromised and suffer from respiratory illnesses like asthma or allergies, air filters must be replaced every 20 – 45 days.
- Household size: for vacation houses where people visit only once or twice a year, it’s okay to change the filter between 6-12 months. For homes with more occupants, every 90 days will suffice.
- Air filter model: air filters can differ in materials. If you’re using a less expensive fiberglass one, it is recommended by HVAC experts to change the filter every 30 days.
Signs You Need To Change Your Filter
Indoor pollutants dramatically affect your health, and physical symptoms may be experienced immediately after being exposed to these irritants or months later. Although not all people or pets react similarly to immediate exposure, immediate reactions are likely felt by immuno-compromised individuals such as young children and older family members. Manifestations of poor indoor air quality may be:
- Worsening respiratory problems like asthma or allergies;
- Frequent eye, nose, and throat irritation;
- Shortness of breath;
- Musty odor emanating inside the house;
- Poor ventilation; and
- Increased energy usage and charges.
Budding health concerns are not the only way to measure air quality indoors since there are some seasons and periods wherein viral infections are common. If in doubt, it’s always best to contact your local health department or HVAC specialists. They can help you assess the situation should a basic air filter change not be enough to address any physical illness or an unexpected spike in your energy consumption.
HVAC systems come in different shapes, models, and sizes; thus, following what the manufacturer says about air filter replacements is always best. ‘When is the best time to change your air filter?’ is a common question homeowners ask. Although it’s a rule of thumb to replace air filters every 90 days, it’s best to consider the living arrangement you have to determine when it’s best to change air filters.
Changing your air filters ahead of the suggested period is fine, especially if you’re renovating or have some construction going on, you have more than one furry pet living with you, and most especially if you live with babies, children, older family members, or other immuno-compromised individuals. However, when it comes to maintaining an excellent quality of life, it’s best to follow your gut and just change the air filter to be on the safe side of things.