How often should you really change your HVAC filter?, Heating ventilation and air conditioning maintenance

How Often Should You Really Change Your HVAC Filter?

5 June 2024

When considering the maintenance of an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system, one of the most frequently asked questions is about the frequency of changing the HVAC filter. Regularly replacing the air filter is crucial for maintaining optimal airflow and ensuring the system operates efficiently. Moreover, it plays a significant role in maintaining good indoor air quality.

When should you change your HVAC filter

Read on to learn how you should change your HVAC filter.

Importance of Regular HVAC Filter Changes

HVAC filters trap dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne particles, preventing them from circulating throughout your home. Over time, these filters can become clogged with debris, significantly reducing the efficiency of the HVAC system. This can lead to poorer air quality and strain the system, potentially leading to higher energy bills and premature mechanical failures.

However, if you want a more detailed understanding of your home’s air quality, consider using a tool specializing in indoor air quality assessment. This tool can provide insights and recommendations tailored to your specific environment.

Recommended Filter Change Frequency

The frequency at which you should change your HVAC filter depends on several factors, including the type of filter, the air quality in your area, the usage of your HVAC system, and whether your household includes pets or individuals with allergies.

The following are the basic guidelines to consider:

  • Standard residential filters: It is typically recommended that the filter be changed every 90 days for the average home without pets.
  • Homes with pets: If you have pets, the filters should be changed more frequently, about every 60 days, due to pet hair and dander.
  • Allergy sufferers: Households with allergy sufferers should consider changing filters every 30-45 days to maintain optimal indoor air quality and minimize allergens.
  • High-use periods: During high-use seasons, such as summer and winter, you may need to replace your filter more frequently because the HVAC system operates more frequently.

Choosing the Right HVAC Filter

The effectiveness of an HVAC filter is measured by its MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). This rating indicates how well the filter can capture smaller particles. Filters with higher MERV ratings can trap more and smaller particles, enhancing the air quality and requiring more frequent changes due to quicker clogging.

On the other hand, knowing the different types of filters is essential when looking for the right one for your HVAC unit. The different types of filters include:

  • Fiberglass filters: These are typically the least expensive options and have lower MERV ratings, so they catch larger particles. They are suitable for basic protection.
  • Pleated filters: These filters have higher MERV ratings and can trap smaller particles such as pollen and mold spores, making them a good choice for homes needing higher air quality.
  • HEPA filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters capture up to 99.97% of airborne particles, making them ideal for households with allergy sufferers or those needing superior air quality.

Signs You Need to Change Your HVAC Filter

It’s important not to wait until the scheduled change date if there are visible signs that the filter is clogged. Here are some indicators that it’s time for a change:

  • Increased energy bills: A noticeable increase in monthly energy expenses can often suggest that your HVAC system exerts extra effort to circulate air through a clogged filter. This added strain reduces efficiency and increases operational costs as the system consumes more energy to maintain desired temperatures.
  • Visible dirt and clogging: Regular inspections of your HVAC filter can reveal accumulation of dirt and debris. If the filter appears visibly dirty and congested, it is imperative to replace it immediately. A dirty filter can severely impact the system’s efficiency and compromise indoor air quality, making environments less comfortable and potentially exacerbating respiratory issues.
  • Allergy symptoms: If household members begin experiencing an uptick in allergy symptoms, it could indicate that the air filter is no longer effectively trapping allergens like pollen, dust, and pet dander. Timely replacement of the filter can alleviate these symptoms by ensuring cleaner, healthier air circulation throughout your home.

Benefits of Regular Filter Changes

Regularly changing your HVAC filter has several benefits:

  • Improved air quality: Clean filters better remove contaminants from the air, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies.
  • Enhanced HVAC efficiency: A clean filter allows air to flow freely, reducing the strain on your HVAC system and potentially extending its lifespan.
  • Lower energy costs: Efficient system operation requires less energy, which translates into lower utility bills.


Maintaining your HVAC system with regular filter changes is a simple yet effective way to enhance your indoor air environment and ensure the system operates efficiently. Depending on your specific circumstances—such as household allergies, pet ownership, and general air quality needs—the frequency of filter changes can vary. By understanding and responding to the signs that your HVAC filter needs replacing, you can keep your air clean and your system running smoothly.

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