Dirty Air Filter Photo Courtesy Ivy Dawned

How Often Should I Change My Home’s Air Filter? And What Kind Should I Use?

Your home’s heating and cooling system relies on air filters, also known as furnace filters, to keep the air in your home clean. These filters also help to keep the coils and heat exchanges in your central heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system clean, which can extend the life of your system.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Ben’s ProServ is, “How often should I replace my air filter?” The stock answer is that air filters should be changed every three months. But the best answer for you depends on a number of factors, including whether you have pets or children, whether any members of your household have allergies or asthma, how often your system runs, and the size of your home.

Depending on what type of filter you buy, they can capture dust mite debris, mold spores, pet dander, smoke, bacteria, dust, pollen and other particles floating around in the air inside your home.

Less expensive filters are made up of a layer of fibers – usually fiberglass – and, while they’re more affordable than other filter types, they are not effective at filtering out small pollutants. They are a poor choice for those with respiratory issues. These filters should be changed every 30 days.

Pleated filters, made up of polyester fabrics or cotton folds, are more effective than non-pleated filters because the pleats provide a larger surface area to catch more allergens and pollutants. Sure, the pleated filters cost more, but they can last much longer – often lasting for six months before requiring a change.

We recommend that you check your air filter every month. If it’s dirty, swap it out with a fresh one. It’s really that simple. Before you head out to the store to buy a replacement filter, check the size of your current filter. Be sure your replacement is the same size.

Using disposable pleated filters are the most cost-efficient choice. Be sure to buy air filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 11 to 13 — the highest ratings are the best. These filters won’t impede the airflow through your HVAC unit and they catch particles such as pollen, pet allergens and mold.

For those interested in learning about how air purifications systems can further remove unpleasant odors, trap airborne allergens, clean up smoky air and trap dust (some systems can even protect against exposure to COVID-19, among other viral and bacterial risks) read this previous blog or visit the air purification page on our website.