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COVID and Indoor Air Quality, Preventive Maintenance Agreements

5 Reasons to Change HVAC Filters More Often

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Last Updated on October 7, 2020

Man showing how to change HVAC filters

If your home or business has a furnace and an air conditioning system, these systems have air filters designed to protect the equipment from dust and debris. When these HVAC filters get clogged, system performance is compromised and your indoor air quality suffers as well.

Let’s take a look at exactly why you need to change HVAC filters regularly, how often to change them, and how to do so.

Why change HVAC filters?

1. Prevent expensive damage to your HVAC equipment

The main purpose of HVAC filters is to keep dust and debris out of your furnace and air conditioning equipment. But why is dust so bad for it? There are a couple of reasons.

When dust, dirt and other debris get into your system (because you didn’t change the HVAC filters), a layer of grime accumulates on the moving parts, including motors, pulleys, and fans. The strain and increased friction make the motor have to run longer and work harder to turn the fans that provide air flow for the system. Over time, the increased wear and tear causes parts to fail prematurely.

Your HVAC systems (both heating and air conditioning) need air flowing through them to work properly. When your HVAC filters are clogged with a thick layer of dust, air flow is compromised. That can lead to coils freezing up or even an overheated compressor, both of which will require expensive repairs.

Changing HVAC filters is a simple task that can prevent damage to your equipment.

2. Save on energy bills

Whether you’re motivated by saving money or saving the planet (or both), reducing your energy usage is a win for everybody.

A dirty HVAC system consumes more power, because it has to run longer and work harder to reach set temperature. So, when you change your HVAC filters regularly, your system works more efficiently and uses less electricity.

Learn more: Top 11 Ways to Get Better HVAC Energy Efficiency

3. Prolong equipment life

Heating and air conditioning systems are expensive, so of course you want your equipment to last as long as possible.

Here’s what you might not realize: the “expected” life of a heating or air conditioning system is based on optimal operating conditions. That means taking care of it, including changing the HVAC filters. If you neglect these tasks, your system may still work well for a while, but it will not last as long as it could with proper care.

Getting regular residential or commercial HVAC maintenance (which includes changing HVAC filters, among other tasks) is the best way to ensure reliable performance and prolong the life of your system.

Learn more: Is HVAC Maintenance Really Worth It? Before & After Photos Tell All


4. Reduce dust in your space

Here’s a fringe benefit of changing your HVAC filters more often: less cleaning!

When your HVAC filters get clogged, more dust can end up in your ducts. As heated and cooled air gets distributed through the ducts and into your space, that extra dust gets blown around as well.

With clean filters doing their job, you have less dust accumulating on the surfaces of your home or business.

5. Reduce airborne contaminants

It’s important to know that typical paper HVAC filters are NOT designed to trap pet dander, pollen, mold, bacteria, or viruses. However, you can get higher efficiency filters (such as HEPA filters) for your HVAC system that can really help to improve the indoor air quality in your space.

If you live or work in a location with poor air quality conditions (including ground-floor locations in a congested city, a restaurant, a salon, or a manufacturing facility), investing in HEPA HVAC filters and changing them frequently can help to keep occupants healthy.

Learn more: 5 Facts You Need to Know About Air Filters for Allergies

HEPA filters are made from densely packed layers of glass fibers instead of paper. The best ones are able to trap more than 99 percent of pollen, dust, and smoke particles.

However, it’s important to know that if you choose to use HEPA or other high-efficiency HVAC filters, they do trap more dust and debris and must be changed more frequently. Also, they can decrease airflow which can, in some cases, lead to decreased system performance and increased electricity use. It’s always a good idea to check with a qualified HVAC professional before buying filters.

If you are concerned about coronavirus particles being transmitted through your HVAC system, upgrading your HVAC filters can reduce the risk to some extent. But they can’t eliminate the risk entirely, and as we mentioned above, there may be risks to your equipment to consider. However, there are other COVID mitigation options to consider, such as UV light and air purification technology that can kill virus particles in the air and within your HVAC system. Read our free guide to learn more.

guide to HVAC strategies for COVID

How often should you change HVAC filters?

In general, we recommend changing HVAC filters at least every couple of months. However, that depends on your system and your environment. We have had customers that need to change filters every couple of weeks due to high levels of contaminants in the air.

Your best bet is to check with your HVAC service provider, who can recommend the right filters and the necessary frequency based on your usage and operating conditions.

It’s easy to change HVAC filters: here’s how.

When you have an HVAC service contract, your technician will change the filters for you at every visit. However, chances are you’ll need to do it more frequently than that. Luckily, it’s quick and easy to change most furnace filters and air conditioner filters.

Here’s another article that explains exactly what to do: Why and How to Change an Air Filter