The air inside our homes can contain various pollutants like dust, dander, mold spores, and chemicals that can aggravate allergies and asthma. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
The American Lung Association states poor indoor air quality can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Installing high-quality air filters in your home’s HVAC system is one of the most effective ways to remove these pollutants and allergens from the air. The EPA recommends changing out air filters every three months or as the manufacturer recommends.
Replacing air filters regularly prevents them from becoming clogged with debris, reducing airflow and efficiency. According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), dirty air filters use 37% more energy as your HVAC system works harder to maintain comfort.
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Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?
DIY filter replacement is straightforward and inexpensive, so we suggest hiring a professional. Since HVAC professionals have the proper tools and expertise to do the job correctly, they will also ensure the filter is properly sized and fitted to your system.
Moreover, these professionals also check related components like the blower motor and drain pans for any issues.
Companies like Filters Delivered offer full-service air filter replacement. Their NATE-certified technicians thoroughly inspect your entire HVAC system during each filter change.
Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Home’s Air Filters
Replacing your home’s air filters does require some time and effort. Here are eight signs that indicate it’s time to change your air filters.
Paying attention to these cues and replacing filters promptly can improve indoor air quality, reduce allergy symptoms, and lower energy bills.
1. Decreased Airflow
One of the most obvious signs your air filter needs changing is reduced airflow from your vents. Dirty, clogged filters prevent air from flowing properly through your HVAC system. You’ll notice that your vents don’t blow as strongly as they should.
Rooms also take longer to reach the set temperature. Decreased airflow indicates that dust and debris have accumulated on the filter screen. Replacing it will remove the restriction and restore proper air circulation.
2. Visible Dirt and Debris
Frequently checking your air filters allows you to notice when they appear visibly dirty. Carefully remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If you see a thick layer of dust and debris, it’s time for a new one.
Dirt buildup on the filter reduces the available surface area for air to pass through and sheds particles back into the airstream, recirculating them through your home. Replacing visibly soiled filters helps restore filtration efficiency and cleaner indoor air.
3. Musty Odor
Dirty air filters can cause musty, unpleasant odors in your home. Trapped moisture and debris on an old filter breeds mold, mildew, and bacteria. When you run your HVAC system, these contaminants get blown back into the living spaces.
This causes that familiar stale, funky smell. If you notice odd odors when your system runs, changing the filter should help eliminate them. Be sure to inspect the ductwork for any mold buildup as well.
4. Increased Dust and Dander
Have you noticed more dust and pet dander accumulating lately? This is a sign that your air filters are not trapping particles properly. The filter mesh gets clogged over time as it strains out debris. This reduces its effectiveness at capturing allergens and dust.
More of these irritants then keep recirculating through your home’s air ducts. Upgrading to a new, clean filter restores full filtration capacity. It will trap particles rather than blow them back into your living space.
5. Higher Energy Bills
Take a look at your recent energy bills. Have cooling and heating costs increased significantly? Dirty air filters force your HVAC system to work harder to maintain comfort. This increases energy usage as the blower fan and compressor run longer.
The Department of Energy estimates that replacing clogged filters can lower HVAC energy use by 5% to 15%. Keeping your air filters clean reduces strain on the system, so it runs more efficiently. Changing them every three months ensures optimal performance all year long.
6. Allergy and Asthma Symptoms
Many common allergens like pollen, pet dander, and mold spores are airborne particles. When air filters become clogged, they allow more contaminants to circulate indoors. This constant exposure can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms for sensitive individuals.
Wheezing, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes are common. Replacing air filters removes accumulated allergens so symptoms subside. Clean filters also prevent mold growth inside the ducts, aggravating respiratory issues.
If your family’s allergies seem worse lately, new filters can get those sneezes and sniffles under control.
7. Condensation Around Vents
Notice any water droplets or condensation around your vents and HVAC equipment? This moisture buildup indicates restricted airflow from a clogged filter. Dirty filters reduce air volume moving through the ducts.
The resulting humidity condenses on cold metal surfaces. Excess moisture fosters mold growth in the system, degrading air quality. Replacing your air filter removes the airflow restriction to eliminate vent condensation issues.
8. It’s Been 3 Months or Longer
The simplest way to stay on top of air filter maintenance is to follow the standard replacement schedule. Most manufacturers recommend swapping out filters every three months or so. Mark your calendar seasonally as a reminder.
Make air filter replacement part of your regular home maintenance routine like checking smoke detectors. Following this quarterly schedule ensures your filters never become excessively dirty. It maintains optimal HVAC performance and indoor air quality all year long.
Paying attention to the warning signs highlighted in this article will indicate when your home’s air filters need replacing. Clogged, dirty filters reduce airflow, higher energy costs, and circulate allergens.
Replacing them quarterly restores full filtration capacity to protect your family’s health. Consider enrolling in a filter subscription service or adding filter check reminders to your calendar for convenience.
Keeping air filters fresh and debris-free promotes proper HVAC operation, energy efficiency, and cleaner indoor air. Your family will breathe easier knowing your home’s filters are working properly.