Everyone knows that you should change your air filter to keep your home’s HVAC system running efficiently. However, understanding when to change your filter can feel like a moving target. Discover why it’s so important to keep your filter clean, the common recommendations for changing your filter, and why you may want to consider changing it more often over the summer.

Why Having a Clean Air Filter Is Important

Your home’s heating and cooling system cannot work without circulating air through your home and system. As air enters your system, it contains a variety of contaminants that will clog up the system if allowed to collect inside. A clean air filter will remove these contaminants before they can wreak havoc on your system.

However, allow that filter to clog, and it’ll restrict the airflow into the system, reducing your system’s efficiency and increasing its operational strain. This is why you not only need to make sure you have a filter but that you change it regularly.

How Often Should You Normally Change Your Air Filter?

How often you should change your filter depends on many factors, including your home’s air quality, the size of your filter, whether it’s flat or pleated, its filtering efficiency and how you use your system. As a rule of thumb, homes with the common 1- and 2-inch filter usually need a replacement filter every 30 to 90 days. Larger filters may last several months to as much as a year, depending on the size.

You may also need to change your filter more frequently if you have pets or severe allergies. The summer season may also require more frequent filter changes due to the following reasons.

More Air Circulating in the Summer

First, keep in mind that the hotter it gets outside, the more your air conditioner will run. The basic air conditioner is a single-stage system, which means the circulating fan and compressor will run on high all the time. That means that, as the cooling cycle lengths increase, the amount of air passing through the system increases linearly. The filter can only handle so many contaminants, so the more frequently you pass air through it, the more quickly it’s going to clog and need replacing.

More Airborne Contaminants

Summers are notorious for airborne contamination that will clog your air filter. There are natural seasonal contaminants like pollen, dust, and mold. However, we’re seeing more issues with contaminants flowing in from other areas from things like wildfires. Even if you leave your windows closed, no home is completely sealed, and yours will allow in some of these contaminants. The more contaminants you have in the air moving through your home, the less air the filter will pass through it before it needs replacing.

More Moisture in the Air

Humidity is the measure of how much moisture is in the air, and there are two methods to represent this. The most common method of measurement is relative humidity or how much moisture is in the air compared to the total amount of moisture the air can hold at a given temperature. The hotter the air, the more moisture the air can hold. This leads to the second measure, which is absolute humidity, which is measured in grams of water per cubic meter of air.

Hotter temperatures in the summer mean that the air can hold more absolute moisture. The more moisture that’s available in the air, the better an environment becomes for biological contaminants to develop and proliferate. If the humidity is allowed to get high enough in your home, those spores can multiply right on your filter, causing it to clog even more quickly.

How to Find the Right Schedule for Your Home

The best way to find out how often you need to change your filter is to visually check it monthly. If there’s a lot of dust on the filter, gently touch it with your hand. If it leaves a residue on your hand, it’s best to replace it.

When people around Nixa want a partner they can trust to improve their home’s air quality, they turn to Queen City Heating & Cooling. Our expert technicians provide air quality solutions like humidity control, filtration, and air monitoring in addition to heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our award-winning techs to evaluate your home’s air quality today.

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