We’ll say this one first so we don’t have to say it later:
Lots of bad things can happen if you don’t change your air filter regularly.
Short-cycling, frozen coils, low airflow… You name it. The air filter is crucial to the performance of your air conditioner, and neglecting to replace it can have you making a surprise call to an air conditioning repair service in San Bernardino, CA. That’s about all the average homeowner needs to know about their air filter. However, if you really want to understand your filter in an out, here’s what else we can tell you:
How Often You Actually Need to Change Them
The stock answer is “every 2 to 3 months.” It’s a safe answer that applies to most households. In reality, the answer depends on a few different factors. The number of people in the home, the number of pets in the home, and the type of air filter you’re using all come into play. You also can’t forget to factor in the outdoor air situation—being next to a construction site in the city will bring a different air quality standard than being in a suburb near a park.
Ask your HVAC contractor for the answer that makes sense for your particular air filter, but you can expect a range from every 30 days to every 6 to 12 months.
MERV Ratings and What That Means for You
The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ranks the efficiency of air filters from 1 to 20. The lower the number, the less filtration. The higher the number, the more filtration.
Your home, on average, will most likely be between 1 and 8. If you’re sensitive to air quality and need an upgrade, you should go as high as 12. We say that because anything above 12 is actually going to be inefficient for your AC. Higher numbers are reserved for hospitals and surgery rooms, where the necessity to keep the air clean outweighs the cost to use them.
What It Does for Your Allergies and Indoor Air Quality
The regular air filter for your HVAC system isn’t going to do a ton toward reducing your allergies or improving your indoor air quality. These filters are almost specifically to keep the HVAC system free of dust and dirt, and that’s about all they can do.
If allergies and air quality is your concern, you should ask about air filters and air purifiers. These are treatment systems made specifically for improving the air quality in the home, by either filtering out specific contaminants or killing living germs.
How to Choose the Best One for Your Home
Again, the default air filters that come with your HVAC system are fine for most people. Of course, just because you can’t see it or feel it doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.
We recommend getting an air quality test to understand what contaminants may be floating around in your home. You might be surprised with the results. Then, if necessary, the proper filter can be installed for you.