Changing the Air Filter on Your A/C System

Changing your air filter is such an important part of what you, as the homeowner, can do for your air conditioning system.  I had a call from a lady last summer, her A/C system in Plano, Tx was not cooling very well.  I went out to her house for a service call in Plano, Tx and headed right for the attic and her air filter, as I always do, and noticed the air filter was brand new.  She, like most of the people I talk to, don’t even THINK about changing their filter until the air conditioning unit stops working.  Sometimes that can be months or years!

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How often should I change my air conditioning filter?”.   There are a lot of right answers depending on what type of air conditioning filter you have and where it is located.  Filters range in size from 1″ to 4″, to all types from fiberglass to pleats to accordian-type.  I’m sure there are more out there, I’m not a filter guru and don’t claim to be, but just to touch on the ones I see most often. Let’s start with the worthless, 1″, blue, fiberglass filters.  As I mentioned in the FAQ section of my website, these things catch June bugs and softballs.  They are cheap, but terrible.  You get what you pay for.  If you are using these, stop!  They allow so many particles through them, and guess where they accumulate?  On your evaporator coil.  This causes reduced air flow, reduced efficiency, freeze ups and will eventually lead to the evaporator coil needing to be cleaned, which is expensive, or if ran for too long with these filters, replaced, which is VERY expensive.  It’s not worth it.  If you have a 1″ space for a filter at your home in say, Richardson, Tx, then splurge for a good 1″ pleated filter.  And you don’t have to buy the expensive 3M $25 pleat, you can buy the Home Depot or Lowes knock- off brand, they are fine too, and less expensive.  The main thing is make sure you change them regularly.  Which leads me to the question of, “how often do I change my 1″ pleated filter?”.  The package says 3 months, and even that can vary.  My recommendation is to check it once a month and if it looks clogged, change it.  Again, it’s not worth the expenses related to repairs caused from dirty filters.  There are a lot of variables:  if you smoke in your home, if you have a lot of pets in the home, if the filter grill is located down low near the floor they tend to get dirtier, when they run for so many hours in the summer they tend to get dirtier vs. running just a little while in the winter.  It’s common sense, the more a system runs, the more dirty air particles the filter is going to catch, therefore, the more you will need to change it.  It’s the same with a 4″ pleated filter.  Use your common sense.  I have customers that can get by with changing their 4″ filter once per year and others that have to change it after only 3 months.  Also, customers with allergy issues tend to want to change them more often and that’s a good idea.  The thing is you can’t change a filter too much but you can change it not enough.

The next problem I see with my customers is them not knowing where to even FIND their filter.  In most cases it’s in the attic or the furnace closet near the furnace, start there.  If you don’t see it check the return grills inside the home for filters, which leads me to another good point:  DO NOT run filters in your return grills and also in the filter racks near the furnace.  This is double-filtering and most homes do not need this type of filter system.  It goes back to the restriction issue and the blower motor having to work too hard and low air volume in your home.  Okay, so if you still can’t locate your filter, give me a call and I’d be happy to come out and show you how and where to change your filter.

Oh!  The metal framed washable-type, permanent/reusable filters.  I HATE those!!!  I tell all my customers that have those to take them out and throw them as far as you can!  They are really, really good filters!  THAT’S the bad news.  They are TOO good, too restrictive, too hard on your blower motor that is trying to pull air across them.  Not only that, but I’ve noticed most of my customers forget to clean them, the dirt embeds in them and they become even MORE restrictive.  Now, there are cases, where you have a filter rack, or an odd shaped furnace that the manufacturer wanted to force you to buy filters from them by making it such an odd size you ‘d never be able to find the filters to fit anywhere else, that’s my exception.  But in that case, it is imperative that you clean those filters, religiously, once a month.  No exceptions.  They MUST be cleaned regularly.  If you’re not good about maintenance, and most people aren’t, you may have to bite the bullet and call me, I can have special filters made to fit your furnace, they’re expensive but so are the expenses of repairs that NOT cleaning your permanent filter will cause.

Okay, as I said, there are other types of filters out there and I’m just touching on the ones I see most often at the homes we service, like Allen, Tx, Murphy, Tx, and Rowlett, Tx.  We cover most of the North Dallas metroplex.  Give us a call to come and check out your air conditioning system, you’ll be glad you did.





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