How often do you change the air filter in your air conditioning unit? Once a month? Once per season? Once a year?
There is no set standard for replacing an A/C air filter because there are so many variables involved. However, in Florida, it’s important to check your air filter often and change it whenever the filter appears dirty or clogged.
Variables that can degrade the condition of an air filter:
- Number of people living in a home
- How often vents/ducts are cleaned
- Length of the cooling season
- Home renovations
Gainesville’s Weather Can Affect Your Air Filter
A dirty or clogged air filter prohibits steady airflow, which in turn can cause your air conditioner to work harder in order to cool your home. Because afternoon temperatures can hit 90 degrees by late spring and stay above 80 degrees well into winter, residential air conditioners in Gainesville work longer and harder than A/C units in more northern states. This longer season of cooling can have a negative effect on an HVAC system, so it’s important to perform planned maintenance by replacing old or dirty air filters.
When To Check Your Air Filter
Cooling Season: Every 4-6 weeks
Non-Cooling Season: At the start and end of the season
During the cooling season, which begins when you first start running your air conditioner and ends when you finally switch over to running the heat, you should check your air filter regularly. Not only will a clean air filter help keep your air conditioner running smoothly and efficiently, your air ducts can stay cleaner. This is important for anyone who has allergies or small children.
As air is circulated throughout your home, small particles are picked up and carried along for the ride. This includes:
- Pet Dander
- Skin Cells
Many of these particles are caught in your air filter. Homes with a large number of family members or multiple pets may accumulate a larger amount of dust, dander and debris at a faster rate than other homes. By checking your air filter regularly, even weekly if need be at first, you can gauge how quickly your air filter clogs, then create a schedule based on your needs.
The type of air filter that you use can also greatly affect how often it will need to be changed. Fiberglass filters, while cost-effective, tend to require changing more often. Thick, pleated filters generally last much longer than fiberglass filters, but they also cost more.
Here’s where understanding your household and your air conditioner comes in handy. For example, if you live alone, don’t have any pets, and rarely run your A/C, it’s likely that you won’t have to change your air filter very frequently. On the other hand, if you have a family of 5, with a couple of pets, and you’re currently doing in-home renovations, you may want to change your air filter every couple of weeks (at least until the renovations are complete).
The Bottom Line Of Air Filter Replacement
Although higher quality air filters may set you back $20-$50, you could face repair costs into the hundreds if you neglect your air filter. Overworked air conditioners have a shorter life span, and they cannot work to maximum efficiency. That results in higher energy bills, more frequent repairs, and even replacing an air conditioner well before its typical life cycle.
Swapping out an air filter is one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to perform planned maintenance in your home.