Do you change the air filter in your furnace often enough? Were you aware you needed to change your furnace air filter before reading this? If not, no worries! There’s no better time like the present to learn the importance of this.
What’s important moving forward is that you take action to keep your filter, and therefore your furnace, in good shape. Otherwise, you could find yourself paying for what would have been otherwise unnecessary repairs. Read on to learn more!
Why the Air Filter Is There
There’s a bit of a misconception about the purpose of the air filters in your HVAC systems. If you’ve gone this long without changing it and your system seems to still be working okay, then you may not have ever realized this–but the air filter is not in place to protect your indoor air quality! It’s instead there to protect the furnace itself from dust, dirt, and other debris that can get inside and harm its sensitive components.
The filter is installed at the return air duct. This means that the air flowing into your furnace must go through the filter, and that’s where dust and debris are collected so they don’t go into the furnace itself. The drawback of this process is that the debris collects to a point that the air filter gets clogged up, and therefore airflow is restricted.
Homeowners need to change these air filters every 1-3 months, depending on the type of air filter and the level of contaminants in their home–for instance, a home with pets means pet dander, and probably has an air filter that needs to be changed more often than not.
But What Happens When the Filter Gets Too Clogged?
This is a great question! One of the possible symptoms of restricted airflow in a furnace is a process called short-cycling. This is when your furnace cycles on and off rapidly, rather than going through regular heating cycles. Your furnace should cycle on 2-3 times an hour and run in 10-15 minute increments. If it’s short-cycling this means a couple of things–the whole system is accumulating wear and tear much faster than it otherwise would, and it’s working inefficiently.
You see, if it’s not completing a full heating cycle, then it’s not getting your home as warm as your desired temperature setting on the thermostat. Additionally, your HVAC systems actually drain the most power cycling on. So if your furnace is coming on more than 2-3 times an hour, it’s draining a lot more energy than it should have to, which means higher bills for you, and probably a premature replacement too because of the excessive wear and tear.
A well-maintained furnace should last you 10-15 years, sometimes even longer. And keeping a well-maintained system does require annual professional tune-ups, but changing the air filter every 1-3 months is a small maintenance task you can and should do on your own to help it last that long.