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What Is an HVAC Air Filter and Why Does It Need Changing?

Hvac Air Filter
The cooler weather is here and many homeowners are firing up their furnaces for the first time in months. It's the perfect time to check your HVAC air filter and find out if it needs to be replaced. Knowing what an HVAC air filter is, how often it needs to be replaced and why it is important can help you prioritize this necessary task.   
What Is an HVAC Air Filter?
An HVAC air filter is a filter that fits between the blower and the return air duct in your central heating and cooling system. The filter helps clean the air that passes through the ducts. This prevents dirt from building up in the air conditioning and furnace and can also help prevent dust from building up inside the ducts as well.
Why Does Your HVAC Air Filter Need to Be Changed Periodically?
As the HVAC filter cleans the air, dust and particles will cling to the filter. Over time, the filter can become dirty. A typical air filter is not something that can be cleaned and used again. The only way to ensure that the air filter in your HVAC system is clean is to replace the filter.
How Often Should You Change Your HVAC Air Filter?
The EPA's ENERGY STAR program recommends changing the filter every 3 months, or more frequently if needed. If the air filter gets dirty quickly or if people in the household suffer from allergies, you may need to change the air filter monthly or bi-monthly.  More frequent filter changes can help improve your family's health because you will breathe cleaner air.
How Can You Tell If Your HVAC Air Filter Needs to Be Changed?
Remove your HVAC air filter from the slot. If the air filter looks dirty or dusty, or if you can scrape dust off of the filter with your fingernail, the filter needs to be changed. You'll also be able to tell your air filter needs to be changed if:
  • Your allergies get worse when you run your HVAC system.
  • Your home has a musty odor when your furnace or air conditioner is running. 
  • Your house has more dust when you use your furnace or air conditioner.
Some of these problems can also be an indication that your ducts need to be cleaned. If changing your air filter doesn't help, talk to an HVAC repair specialist. 
What Should You Do to Change Your HVAC Air Filter?
To change your HVAC air filter, start by turning off the HVAC system. Next, remove the old air filter from its slot between the return air duct and the blower. Take the old filter to the hardware store or home improvement center, then use the old filter to find a new identical filter. Once you're back home, insert the new air filter into the slot and turn on the climate control. 
What Will Happen If You Fail to Change Your HVAC Air Filter?
Failure to change your air filter could cause a buildup of dirt and gunk in the air conditioner and furnace. Because your air conditioner requires air flow in order to function, a buildup of grime on the coils can cause the appliance to become inefficient. Replace your air filter periodically to help prevent this problem from occurring and help your HVAC system function more efficiently.
Who Can You Turn To With Questions About Your HVAC Air Filter?
At Haskins Heating and Cooling, we're happy to answer client questions about their HVAC air filter or about their HVAC system. To find out more about your HVAC system and air filter, contact us today