Ever notice how your thermostat will occasionally will flash the word “filter?” If you have a digital thermostat, chances are your thermostat has this capability, and if you have been ignoring it, now is the time to pay attention to it! That flashing word is a maintenance reminder for you to check the filter on the furnace. Depending on the type of filter you use, you may have to change it more or less frequently than the reminder advises. However, neglecting to change the filter enough can cause serious damage to the furnace and to the air quality in the home. So how do you know how frequently to change it?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one clear cut answer to that question. You should check the recommended filter life on the manufacturer’s packaging, and consult a professional if you are not sure. However, there are many factors that could contribute to more frequent filter changes. These include:
- Asthma, Allergies, Respiratory Problems: If you have people in the home who suffer from one of these aliments, you should replace the filter more frequently. Purchase a filter with a high MERV rating and check it at least monthly.
- Pets: Dogs and cats are the biggest culprits, but any fury animal could be contributing to the amount of hair in the air of your home. Pet hair can clog a filter more quickly than you’d think.
- Smokers: The chemicals from cigarette and cigar smoke are known to shorten the lifespan of filters. Check your filter at least monthly if not more if there are multiple smokers in the home.
- Recent Construction: If you just had the kitchen remodeled, an addition put on, or any other construction in the home, you will need to change the filter more frequently. Dust from drywall and wood will get caught up in the duct work and clog up the filter very quickly.
- Number of People in the Home: The more people living in the home, the more dust and particles floating around in the air to be removed by the filter.
- Grade of Filter: High quality filters need to be changed more frequently because they are made of thicker material. If a thick filter becomes clogged, it will restrict airflow to the furnace and cause damage.
Keep these factors in mind when replacing your filter and you will prevent damage to the air you breathe and the furnace you rely on for heat this winter.