While all components of an HVAC system are important, the air filters help maintain good air quality within your home or business. Without them, dirty ducts will circulate dust, allergens, hair, and even mold throughout your home. Cleaning your air ducts will help with air quality, but this type of maintenance is more in-depth and labor-intensive.  For this reason, systems have air filters that help keep particles out of the ducts to begin with and keep them from circulating through your home. In this post, we’ll take a look at when to replace air filters, the different types of air filters, and answer a common question: “can I clean air filters?”

What Is an Air Filter?

An air filter is a thin barrier in your forced-air system, typically made out of plastic or aluminum and fibrous material to filter the air that gets forced through it. Some filters have removable components that can be machine or hand-washed, while others are completely disposable.

Why Does My System Need an Air Filter?

As hinted above, air filters help your HVAC system maintain air quality for your home or business. Air filters come in a variety of types and their effectiveness varies. Some air filters are infused with charcoal, for example, to help filter out microscopic contaminants and odors. Other, more expensive filters like HEPA filters can remove allergens and other tiny air contaminants to create an optimal indoor environment. Your system can probably take a variety of filter types, so you can choose the level of indoor air quality you are willing to pay for.

How Do I Know When to Replace Air Filters?

Depending on your filter type, you may need to replace a filter more or less often. For example, inexpensive filters without bells and whistles may only need to be changed every 30-90 days. A HEPA filter, on the other hand, will need to be changed once or twice per month in order to function properly and achieve the results you are paying for. If you still aren’t sure when to replace air filters, ask your HVAC technician.

Can I Clean Air Filters?

When you purchase your air filter, you’ll know whether it is a cleanable filter or not. These types of filters are made from washable cloth and generally have removable parts. When you purchase a washable filter, it should come with instructions on how often you will need to wash the filter fabric and how to do so. Make sure to follow the instructions closely to avoid damaging your filter.

What Type of Air Filter Does My System Need?

The only requirement is that you purchase a filter that physically fits inside your unit. You can choose whichever type of filter you like, depending on how concerned you are about air quality in your home or business. Take a look at the filter that is already in your unit. You may find letters or numbers that indicate the size you will need to look for. When in doubt, or if there is no filter present, search for your unit on the internet or call a professional.

Where Can I Get Air Filters?

Air filters can be found online or through your HVAC servicer. Some stores even allow automatic delivery options so that you don’t have to worry about remembering to buy new filters! For example, if you need to replace your standard filter every 3 months, you could set up a delivery for a single filter every three months; when the filter arrives, you know it’s time to change it!

How Do I Change My Air Filter?

Once you’ve located where your air filter is, this is a fairly straightforward process. You will simply need to slide out the old filter, throw it away, and slide in a new one. If you have trouble with this process you can either ask your HVAC technician to show you how to do this during a service call or look up your unit’s model information and find the instructions online.

Since yearly maintenance happens at a much larger interval than air filters should be replaced, homeowners and business owners are responsible for changing their own filters. Do not wait a full year for your HVAC technician to come and service your unit before changing your filter – this can cause reduced flow issues and can even cause furnaces and air conditioning units to shut off and overheat. Not sure what you need to do still? Contact the HVAC experts at Quality Air Experts, LLC.