How Often Should I Change My Home Air Filter — And What Filter Should I Use?
Changing your home air filter is one of the few HVAC jobs a homeowner can — and should — take care of on their own. However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. The filter you choose determines how often you need to change it. We recommend that most homeowners buy a mid-level MERV 10 or 11 filter and change that filter every 30 days — for better air quality and energy bill savings.
We’re going to examine the home air filters on the market today, their strengths and weaknesses, and how often you should change each of them for the best results.
Home Air Filters
Ignore the variety of brand names and promises made on the packaging. The only thing you need to pay attention to about an air filter is the MERV rating. MERV stands for Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a rating given to the effectiveness of the filter. Essentially, the higher the MERV rating, the smaller particles the filter can catch and the more air the filter will block.
You might think that the higher the MERV the better — absolutely NOT! The wrong filter can actually cause your energy bills to skyrocket, and in the long run, damage your HVAC system.
What Happens If I Choose the Wrong Filter?
With the massive variety of filters to choose from, you may pick the wrong one. In the short term, it’s not a big deal, but using the wrong filters for years can lead to costly repairs.
Ineffective filters pose a threat to HVAC systems. When filters are too cheap or too clogged to do their job, they let airborne dirt pass through which gets trapped on the sensitive components of HVAC systems, causing a lack of efficiency and even damage over time.
On the other hand, filters that are too effective actually block the flow of air to the system, which can also harm the system’s health.
The most important thing you can do is buy the right filters and change them often enough.
How Often Do I Need to Change My Air Filter?
The answer to that question depends on which filter you buy. The filter packaging gives estimates that might work in theory — but don’t actually stand up to the dust and dirt from a real house. For the best results, you’ll almost always have to replace your filter more often than the package says.
Low-Cost Filters: MERV 8 or Less
Price per unit: $2 – $4
How often does this filter need to be changed: Every 2 Weeks
These cheap filters can actually do the job – just not for very long. These basic filters get clogged with dirt very quickly, which undermines their effectiveness. Since they are a lower MERV they allow small particles through, but overall, they are relatively effective, as long as you maintain the strict replacement schedule.
Mid Line Filters: MERV 10 or 11
Price per unit: $5 – $8
How often does this filter need to be changed: Every 30 Days
This is the range of filters we install in new systems because this is the type of home air filter we recommend. These filters trap much smaller particles than the cheap variety, without significantly reducing the air flow. The packaging on most of these filters will claim they are good for 3 months — but we know better.
Premium Filters: MERV 13+
Price per unit: $12+
How often does this filter need to be changed: Every 90 Days
Stay away from filters like these! Advertised as being necessary for allergy and asthma sufferers, these filters are more effective at cleaning your home air, but at the price of reducing air flow to your system — which can lead to system breakdowns. An air filter in this range will reduce air flow by as much as 60%. That’s a big enough reduction that you’ll notice your house feels stuffy. Trust us, these “premium filters” do more harm than good.
Want to clean your home air without using one of these detrimental premium filters? We have the perfect solution that won’t endanger your HVAC system.
For those of you with allergies or asthma, again do not pay any attention to the labels you will see on the store bought filters. Filters that can catch the airborne contaminants that affect the allergy sufferer can be added to most HVAC systems. This requires some modifications to allow a much thicker media so that we have more surface area on the filter, which in turn allows us a higher density filter to catch those microscopic particles. A modification of this degree should only be done by an HVAC professional. At Vertex Mechanical we can help you maximize what the filters can catch, all while making sure your system is achieving the right amount of air flow to maintain the highest possible efficiency rate for your HVAC system. There are also other devices that can help clean up the air in your home for even those with the most acute symptoms.
Save Money and Improve HVAC System Lifespan with Vertex
Remember, good air flow and an effective filter are the keys to a long-lasting, efficient HVAC system. Ensuring that your system is clean and getting sufficient air flow is the most important thing you can do to help reduce your utility bills and keep your system running strong.
Do you still have questions about whether you’re using the right filters for your family and your HVAC system? Or are you worried you’ve been using the wrong filter for years?
Bring out a Vertex Mechanical expert to examine your system for signs of damage — and to make specific recommendations about the filter that’s perfect for your system.
Vertex Mechanical is not a national chain, our technicians don’t work on commission, and we don’t hard sell. All we do is keep your HVAC system running well and save you money.
Start the conversation today — we’d love to hear from you.