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When and How to Change HVAC Filters

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With all of the other responsibilities that come with owning a home, it's easy to overlook something as basic as replacing an HVAC filter. Your HVAC system relies on the air filter to run effectively and efficiently, so it's important that you prioritize this aspect of regular home maintenance. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of changing your HVAC filter, the different types there are to choose from, and how often to replace it.

Why It's Important to Regularly Change Your HVAC Filter

Here are some benefits you enjoy by replacing your HVAC filter on a regular basis:

  • Improve your home's air quality. Air filters contain fibers that catch things like bacteria, microorganisms, animal fur, mold spores, dirt, dust, and pollen. When you have a dirty air filter, it's unable to filter out these unwanted elements as effectively. This dirty air can eventually lead to health issues for you and your family, like headaches, allergies, and asthma.
  • Make your HVAC system more energy-efficient. Dirty air filters can make it more difficult for your system to push air through, which results in the use of more energy and, subsequently, higher utility bills.
  • Extend the life of your HVAC system. Performing regular maintenance on your unit and system can ensure that your system stays operational for its full life expectancy. When your system has a dirty filter, it has to work harder than it's meant to, which can result in premature and costly replacements.
  • Prevent costly repairs. You can prevent potential damage to your system and unit by performing regular maintenance, which includes changing out your air filters.
  • Maintain your home's internal temperature. When you have an efficient HVAC system, it produces the right amount of cooled or heated air with ease, creating and keeping the desired temperature in your home more efficiently and effectively.

Types of HVAC Filters

There are different types of filters based on the desired level of filtration and even compatibility with certain systems. Some of the different types include:

  • HEPA filters: HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate arrestance, filters are the most efficient on the market. The minimum efficiency reporting value for these filters is 17 to 20, meaning they trap 95% or more viruses, bacteria, asbestos, dust, and mold that are as small as 0.3 microns. This type of filter is really only necessary if a resident has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or severe allergies. The amount of filtration does restrict airflow, so you may need to modify your system to be compatible. If not, you could cause your system to overheat.
  • Electrostatic HVAC filters: Electrostatic filters use self-charging fibers to attract and trap particles without needing a tighter weave. These filters have a MERV of two to 10 and can trap particles that measure between 1 and 3 microns. If you're looking for ample airflow and better filtration, electrostatic filters are a great purchase. Though they typically have a higher price point, some even come in a washable version, allowing you to save money over time.
  • Pleated HVAC filters: As the mid-range option, pleated filters are also the most common. Recognizable by the v-shaped chevron pattern on the surface, these filters have a MERV rating between five and eight and can trap most dust mites, pet dander, and airborne pollen that measures at least 5 microns. Pleated filters are a great option for people with mild allergies or pets. HVAC systems have to work a little harder to push air through this type of filter, but the improved air quality is worth the small impact on energy costs.
  • Fiberglass HVAC filters: Fiberglass filters have a MERV rating between one and four and can trap roughly 80% of particles that measure 50 microns or bigger and 25% of the particles that are 3 to 10 microns in size. Though they give you the maximum amount of airflow, these filters don't improve the air quality and offer the minimum amount of filtration required to keep particles from damaging your system's components. This can be an acceptable choice if you don't have chronic respiratory conditions, allergies, or pets.


Aside from determining the type of filter you want and need, you also need to know the appropriate filter size for your unit. You should be able to find this information on a label with directions that are affixed to your HVAC unit. You can also check your current air filter's size.

How Often Should You Change Your HVAC Filter?

You need to change out your air filter at least every three months, but you should consider increasing the frequency to monthly if you:

  • Have construction that is happening in or around your house. The debris and dust can get sucked into the home ventilation system, causing it to work harder.
  • Have a large garden or live on a farm or ranch, causing condensation, chemicals, and dirt to enter your HVAC system.
  • Have a fireplace that you use from time to time.
  • Live in a particularly windy area, especially if there aren't trees or shrubs around to windbreak.
  • Have a resident in your home that has a respiratory condition or allergies.
  • Smoke inside.
  • Live with a large number of people, meaning there is more activity, debris, dirt, and dust.
  • Have pets.
  • Run your HVAC unit six months or more a year.

How to Change Your HVAC Filter

When changing an HVAC filter, you need to:

  • 1. Determine and purchase the right filter type and size.
  • 2. Turn off the HVAC unit.
  • 3. Clean residual dust on the unit before and after you change the filter.
  • 4. Follow the directions on the filter packaging and for your unit to make sure you install it properly.
  • 5. Check for gaps around the filter frame. If there are any, you may have the wrong size filter or the one you purchased could be defective.
  • 6. Make sure you secure any seals, gaskets, and/or levers.
  • 7. Turn on the unit so that you can ensure the filter stays in place while operating.
  • 8. Keep track of the replacement date to change out the filter within the recommended time frame.


Performing regular maintenance on your HVAC system is important for your health, your system's health, and your wallet. By changing out your air filter on a regular basis, you can ensure that you and your family are getting clean air and prevent serious problems down the road. If you're experiencing issues with your HVAC system and you're in need of parts, visit or contact us at Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation today.