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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

Changing the Air Filter Monthly Over Winter

Wet Air FilterThe air filter for your HVAC system is a critical component for it to operate well. It isn’t there to clean your household air but to protect the interior of the cabinet from all the dust, lint, and other particles the blower fan draws in through the return air ducts.

Just as important as the job of the air filter is changing the filter regularly. The filter isn’t self-cleaning, so it has to be replaced with a new filter to prevent air blockage. Unfortunately, homeowners often forget to do this job, especially during the winter when the HVAC system won’t run as often in the mild Florida weather. But even during winter, regular filter changes are essential.

How Often Do I Need to Change the Filter?

That’s a good question, and there is no single answer. It can range from every one to three months. Three months should be the absolute maximum time to wait. You may hear about expensive filters that can stay in place longer, but the cost of those filters outweighs their usefulness, and most won’t be able to last for six months anyway.

Our recommendation is that you make a check on the filter each month to see if it’s heavily congested. Slide the filter out of the slot on the HVAC cabinet (or remove it from behind the return air vent in the house if it’s not on the cabinet) and then hold it up to the light. If the filter blocks out the light, it’s too clogged. Put in a new filter and use a marker to write the date you put the filter in along the plastic edge. This will help you know when it’s time to check or replace the filter.

In most homes, the frequency of filter changes will drop during winter because the HVAC system won’t work as much. Keep checking monthly, however, so when the filter begins to clog up faster you’ll know about it.

What Happens If I Forget to Change the Filter?

Several problems can crop up if a clogged filter remains in place for too long.

  • The HVAC system will cost more to operate because the blower fan must work harder to pull air through the return ducts.
  • Cooling/heating around the house will be less powerful and more uneven. This is because less air can get inside the HVAC cabinet to be either heated or cooled.
  • Dust and other contaminants may start to slip around the filter as it contorts from the pressure, putting the components in jeopardy.
  • The HVAC system may begin to short-cycle, shutting off early and then turning back on again.
  • The indoor coil of the AC/heat pump can start to ice over because not enough warm air is being drawn across it.

If you notice any of these above problems, check the filter and see if it needs to be swapped out for a new one. If problems persist, call a Lake City, FL, HVAC contractor to see if the system needs repairs.

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