10 Common Questions About Replacing Your Home Air Filter
Alpharetta, Georgia A/C professionals offer a few tips, tricks and answers on how to install a new HVAC air filter
Even if you know next to nothing about your home’s air conditioning system, changing a filter is one of the easiest, quickest and cheapest repairs you can make. It’s also one of the most important maintenance tasks.
So if there is every reason to be vigilant about replacing your home air filter, why is it that so many go unchanged for too long? Undoubtedly, the biggest reason is simply because people forget. But also, some people get confused about how and when to change filters, as well as what kind of filter to choose.
To address these uncertainties and others, below are ten of the most common questions we get about home air filters.
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Question #1: How do I change my home’s air filter?
Most modern central A/C and heating units have the filter located close or right next to the blower unit. Other places you may find your filter or filters (yes, there can be more than one) are:
- At the central air return register
- At an attic air handler
- At a basement air handler
- Next to an electrostatic air cleaner
Once you have located your filter, take of the grill or box cover holding it in place and remove the dirty filter. Dispose of it properly or clean it thoroughly (if it is a washable filter), and simply put in a new or cleaned filter with the air flow arrow pointing toward the blower.
Also, consider recording the date you changed the filter, so you remember when to replace it next.
Question #2: How often should I replace my air filter?
The life of your filter depends on several environmental factors, such as the density of airborne contaminants, use of candles or incense, increased system activity, as well as which type of filter you have. Different types of filters have different life spans. For example, fiberglass filters last up to 30 days, whereas pleated filters can go for 90 days. Washable filters can last up to 5 years, but should be cleaned every 30 days.
There is no “standard” average of how often every homeowner should replace their filter. You just have to check on it occasionally until you figure out the cycle of your home.
Question #3: What is a HEPA filter?
“HEPA” stands for high-efficiency particulate air. To qualify as HEPA by U.S. government standards, an air filter must remove at least 99.97% of particles from the air that passes through it. The best HEPA filters assure a high level of protection from airborne disease transmission. Because of these strict guidelines, HEPA filters are commonly used in medical facilities, automobiles, aircraft and homes.
Installing a HEPA filter in your home can be a vital defense against irritating particles and allergens, preventing them from getting into your home. High-efficiency filters have also been shown to prevent asthma symptoms in some people.
Question #4: How do I know what size and type of filter to buy?
The easiest way to figure out what size filter you need is to look along the frame of your old one. You can also find this information on your A/C unit owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s specifications.
As far as which type of filter to buy, much of it depends on the needs of your family. For instance, an electrostatic or HEPA filter may be best if someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, or if you live in an area that is exposed to a lot of airborne particles and pollutants (i.e. near a construction site, sand dune, busy highway, etc.). However, you may be fine getting away with a cheaper fiberglass or polyester filter if indoor air quality is less of a concern.
Question #5: Why should I replace my home air filter?
Ensuring that your home has a clean air filter has wide range of benefits for the longevity of your A/C unit, the energy efficiency of your home and the overall well-being of your family. The purpose of air filters is to screen out tiny, microscopic air particles that contaminate your indoor air quality. A good filter can prevent the following common home-air pollutants from circulating throughout your house:
- Pet dander
- Bug parts
- Cleaning product vapors
In addition, replacing or cleaning your air filter regularly helps increase the lifespan of your air conditioning system in the long run and reduce your monthly energy bill.
Question #6: How does an air filter become clogged or dirty?
The outside air may seem clean; however, at the microscopic level there are billions of tiny particles floating around in the air around you every second – from pollen and other allergens to dust and mold. When pulling in outside air to cool or heat your home, a filter stops this particulate matter from getting inside. As a result, dirt and dust builds up on the filter over time.
Question #7: Why is my HVAC filter wet?
To remain effective, filters must stay dry. A wet home air filter signals a potential problem that should be fixed immediately. The problem could be caused by a clogged condensate pan or drain line. Or perhaps there is excess moisture buildup. In either case, this is not normal and you should call an HVAC professional.
Question #8: Do my cooling and heating systems use the same filter?
Almost always, yes. You may hear the terms “furnace filters” and “air conditioning filter” used separately, but they are the same thing as long as you have the common type of system where both hot and cold air travel through the same ducts. “HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Question #9: Where can I buy a replacement home air filter?
Many places sell home air filter replacements. Home Depot, Lowes, Ace or your local hardware store will likely have a wide range of filters to choose from. You can also find new filters for sale at general stores like Walmart and Target. If you don’t want to leave the house, you can even purchase replacement filters online from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer. Just be sure to confirm you are ordering the right size.
Question #10: Do I need to call a professional HVAC repairman?
Unless you run into an unexpected problem, replacing your home’s air filter is a simple process that you can do on your own. Just remember to change your filter regularly. Clogged filters make an air conditioner work harder than normal to force air into the home. If not addressed, this can lead to more expensive problems that will certainly require you to call a repairman in the future.
Have more questions?
Contact the Atlanta A/C repair experts at Gagne for any of your air conditioning and heating needs. 24/7 emergency services available!