By Oretta Croushore, Property Manager for Home Rental Services
I think “Change your HVAC filter” is the property manager version of Mom nagging you to “Eat your vegetables.” If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I might have even said it until I’m blue in the face. The air filter in your HVAC is such a small, inexpensive thing that can make a big, expensive difference.
But, it’s just a flimsy piece of fiberglass and cardboard. What difference could it make?
Home Air Quality
The air filter’s main job is to clean the air circulating through the HVAC system. It traps pollen, dust, animal fur, bacteria, and more. It’s also cleaning those particles that are trapped in the HVAC system.
In general, filters should be changed every one to three months. (There are some filters that are rated to be replaced annually… they are much larger than the traditional once inch thick filters.) In my house, we do change the filter out monthly. We have pets who like to sprinkle their fur around like confetti. On top of that, my daughter and I are allergy sufferers. I have reached a point where they are no longer seasonal; something is out to attack my sinuses all year.
A clean air filter means better breathing. Think about when you were wearing a mask all the time. How hard would it be to breathe if that mask was covered in a layer of dog hair and dust bunnies? As a bonus, it helps keep the dust down in the house when you have a clean filter. You might get a little time doing something fun instead of dusting!
When air filters are dirty, it makes the HVAC work harder to push air through your home. If the air filter is clogged, the dirt and grime can’t attach to it. Those particles then clog the HVAC system. This puts more wear and tear on the system, shortening its life. I promise, air conditioners and furnaces never go out at convenient times. They always like to die on a weekend or over a holiday and usually when it is really hot or really cold.
Reduce Repair Frequency
We all know nothing seems to be cheap these days. Repair costs included. Even just a service call can be $150. Dirty furnace filters are a frequent cause I see on HVAC service calls. In fact, when trying to troubleshoot an HVAC issue, the first thing our maintenance team asks is when the filter was last changed.
As I was writing this post, I received an email from one of our HVAC vendors. Last week, when the temps were high, the renter reported the AC had stopped. When the tech went out to investigate, he found the system was frozen. He couldn’t diagnose the issue until the system thawed. That meant he had to come back several days later and the renters were without AC during that time. Today, they reported the system had frozen due to a clogged filter. That is two service calls and a repair bill which will be charged back to the renter. Even the highest end, 5” furnace filter is less than $50.
Improved Temperature Control
When the air can easily pass through a clean filter, the HVAC system works more efficiently. If you feel like your system isn’t producing the correct amount of hot or cold air, check the filter. Changing it might make a difference. (As a side note, if you’ve recently changed from one system to another, make sure the dampers have been adjusted. These make sure the warm air gets pushed down to the lower levels in the winter and cool air gets pushed to the upper levels in the Summer.)
When I nag about the HVAC filter, it’s because I care. I don’t want to see an easy maintenance item turn into a big repair. I don’t want anyone to live without their HVAC system while they wait for repairs to be completed.
You can typically find multi-packs of filters at Sams, Costco, and the big box stores. On Amazon, you can order them using the Subscribe and Save option so you get filters on a regular interval without having to leave your house. In my house, we signed up for a filter subscription service. You choose the level of filter, the size, and the frequency. It gets delivered to your door in a box about a quarter the size of a filter. When you open it, the filter pops open like a car sunshade. It’s convenient, less costly, and it helps us remember when the filter needs to be changed. Push that easy button! There’s no shame!
This has been a public service announcement from your friends at Home Rental Services! :)