This is a question we often hear from customers, and it’s also one of the air conditioning questions people search for online the most. We’re glad people ask in the first place because it shows they know they need to regularly change the filter. Often homeowners forget about this filter and leave it in place—and as we’ll talk about more below, this will have negative consequences for your AC, your comfort, and your wallet.
The simplest answer to the question in the title is “every 1 to 3 months.” But there’s more to explain about the filter changes, so if you want a more detailed and helpful explanation, follow us below…
Why the Air Filter Needs to Be Changed Regularly
The air filter for the air conditioner (and often the same filter is used for the furnace) does not clean the air in the house. That’s the job of special whole-house filters you can have our technicians install into your ducts. This air filter, sometimes called the blower filter, is in place to protect the interior of the air conditioner from dust and dirt contamination. The filter traps debris brought in through the return air ducts and prevents it from entering the HVAC cabinet, where it can damage motors and dirty the evaporator coil.
Because the filter isn’t self-cleaning, it will eventually collect enough debris that it will block airflow through the AC. This causes numerous problems: it makes the AC inefficient, reduces the volume of air it can cool, can cause the blower motor to overheat, and even allow dust to get around the sides of the filter. Regular filter changes are essential for the best AC performance and service life.
The Frequency of Change
How often a filter needs to be changed depends on several factors, most importantly the filter’s strength and how often the blower runs. You probably use your air conditioner often because of the Texas summers, so we have a good idea how frequently you run it. Let’s look at filter strength:
- Panel filters: These are the least expensive type of filter—basically a mesh screen. They will only last for around a month before they need a replacement.
- Pleated filters: These filters have a stronger weave and larger surface area than panel filters. You can expect a pleated filter to last for around three months.
- Permanent filters: We don’t recommend permanent filters since they aren’t as strong as other filters and can develop mold and bacteria over time. If you do have one, take it out and clean it monthly—and always let it fully dry before putting it back in.
- Media filters: These are large filters that can sometimes last for 4 to 6 months. They do cost more than other filters, and in some cases, they may be too strong for the AC system. We recommend asking about them before purchasing one.
If you have questions about replacing the filter or anything else regarding your air conditioning in Houston, TX, reach out to our team.
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