How Much Maintenance is Required for My Air Filter?

For the most part, the only air filter maintenance is replacing the filter. However, filter maintenance will depend on your unit; consult your owner’s manual. If your system has a reusable filter, you will need to wash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions rather than replace it.

Change Your Filter Regularly

The most important part of air filter maintenance is changing the filter on a regular basis. An air filter’s responsibility is to prevent large dust particles from damaging the equipment inside your heating and cooling system. Depending on the air filter you have installed in your unit it may even trap smaller particles, giving you cleaner indoor air.

The same ductwork and blower motor circulate air during the summer in a central air conditioning unit, which means the air filter must be changed year-round. Monthly checks on your filter will determine how dirty it is or if it’s clogged. Even checking it doesn’t mean you can skip changing it. You should change the filter at least every three months or when the seasons change.

Negative Effects When Your Filter Isn’t Maintained

Filter maintenance is extremely important to the lifespan and performance of your system. Failing to check or replace the filter will lead to:

  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Increased repairs
  • Reduced home comfort
  • Higher energy bills
  • Decreased heating and cooling efficiency


MERV Filter Scale

Whether your filter is washable or disposable, it comes with a MERV rating. The MERV rating is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which rates each filter’s level of efficiency at trapping and eliminating pollutants from your indoor air. The typical MERV ratings are rated below:

  • Electrostatic filters: MERV 1 to MERV 4
  • Disposable filters: MERV 1 to MERV 8
  • Pleated filters: MERV 5 to MERV 8
  • Cartridge filters: MERV 5 to MERV 8
  • Bag filters: MERV 9 to MERV 16
  • Box filters: MERV 9 to MERV 16


MERV Warnings

Before you decide to upgrade your filter to a high efficiency MERV 16 box or bag filter, consider the problems you might face by switching:

  • High-efficiency filters cost significantly more than standard filters. They do trap smaller particles, but the difference in air quality isn’t always noticeable unless you experience respiratory problems.
  • Not all furnaces can accommodate thicker air filters, which high-efficiency filters are thick compared to standard filters. A filter that doesn’t fit properly allows particulates to escape filtration and circulate back into the atmosphere, which decreases the filter’s effectiveness.
  • High-efficiency filters have extra weaves to collect smaller particulates but they reduce airflow, which will increase utility bills and may result in untimely failure of your system.


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