How Often to Change the AC Filter in Your House

Learn about HVAC & Home Performance in Houston.

Photo of Air Conditioner Cleaning

July 26, 2023

AC Maintenance Air Conditioning

The air conditioner (AC) filter in your house does a lot to keep your air quality high and your energy bills low. This filtration system can make a big difference in how clean your air is, and in areas with a high amount of pollution or forest fires, it may be a necessary part of protecting your health. 

How often should you change your air filter in your house? Will your AC need replacement? These filters get dirty and clogged as they catch dust and debris in your home, but how often do you need to change them? 

Paying attention to your air filter and changing it out regularly can make your air more breathable and lessen the strain on your HVAC system. Here is what you need to know about your system and AC filter. 

What Does an AC Filter Do? 

Your air conditioner pumps air throughout your house, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. What do air conditioning system filters provide? 

In short, these filters trap dirt and debris from being moved around your house and through the air you breathe. These improve and reduce poor air quality, which can help those with allergies and other conditions live comfortably. 

How Do You Know If Your AC Filter Needs to be Changed?

AC filters must be changed regularly to protect indoor air quality and reduce strain on your HVAC system. How do you know it is time to change your dirty air filter? Frequent air filter replacements can decrease in air quality. You may notice more dust in the air irritating your lungs over time. If you have a clogged filter, you may also notice your cooling system is struggling or straining over time. 

However, waiting for your filter to get to this point is typically worse. Generally, air filters have a recommended time one can use them, usually around three months. You may need to change your filter out at this rate to maintain air quality and protect your system. 

What Happens If You Don’t Focus on Air Filter Replacement?

Your AC filters must be changed over time to maintain good indoor air quality. Without clean filters, your air quality may dip quickly. For those with allergies or respiratory conditions, that can be devastating. Most air filter manufacturers include filter traps that keep out pet hair which allows more air flow and boosts filter efficiency

It can also put a serious strain on your HVAC system. When running your AC, pulling air through a filter with dirt and clogs is more difficult than a clean filter. Because of that, your HVAC system will need to work harder to maintain your air quality and keep your house cool or warm. 

If you do not protect your HVAC system with this maintenance, it can hurt your whole system. In some cases, it can even lead to failure of your HVAC system. That is an expensive repair, so take care to treat your HVAC system right. 

Seasons and How They Impact Your AC Filter

As the seasons change, you may notice differences in how your HVAC system functions. This heating and cooling system circulates air around your home, and the amount of work it has to do can impact the longevity of your HVAC air filter. 

For example, in milder months, your HVAC system may not have to work as hard while still maintaining the air quality of your home. You may even have this system off during the mildest weather, which takes the pressure off the system. You may even notice your air filter lasting longer than normal in these cases. 

However, the harsher months can be harder on your air filters. The summer heat causes the need for many air conditioner repairs in the area, as this constant running can wear down your machine without regular, more frequent air filter changes. 

Because of this, you may need to keep a closer eye on your filter during these months. If your filter seems dirtier than usual when you inspect it, it may be time to change out your filter early. 

How Long Do Air Filters Really Last?

When working on the upkeep of your HVAC air filter, you want to ensure you are changing out your filter frequently enough to maintain the quality of your HVAC system without spending more than necessary on frequent filter changes. How often should you change your air filters to benefit your heating and cooling system?

To maintain the best possible air quality, you should typically change your air filter every three months or quarterly. However, certain types of filters may have different life cycles. Some, like carbon fiber filters, may last up to six months. 

Unsure how long and what type of filter you need? An HVAC system specialist can tell you all you need to know about your system’s needs and the best upkeep for your home. 

Photo of Cleaning Up Ac Filter

Types of Air Filters 

You have plenty of choices when you are looking for an air filter for your home. It can be difficult to choose one depending on your needs and budget. It will also depend on your filter size needs, whether you need a furnace filter and other specifics of your house. 

Unsure what type of filter you need for your home? This list is a small sample of the air filters available for those seeking the right air filter for their home: 

  • Pleated Air Filters – Pleated air filters are made with layers of material, which means the extra surface area catches more dust and debris. While these filters are more expensive, they also catch more particles and last longer than others. These filters can usually be changed every three months. 
  • Fiberglass Filters – Fiberglass filters are a more budget-friendly option; these filters do not impact your airflow as much as other options. Remember, however, that these filters must be changed much more frequently. You may change these out monthly. 
  • HEPA Filters – HEPA filters are some of the most heavy-duty filters on the market. These filters have the highest MERV rating, a scale that shows how many particles the air filter can remove from the air. HEPA filters remove up to 99.7% of particles from the air and are often used in hospitals. 

Need Help? Connect with an AC Professional 

When you are working on the upkeep of your air filtration system, the air filter is one of the most important parts of the upkeep. While this little part may seem unimportant, it can impact the air quality of your home and even your health. 

Fortunately, many options may work for you and your home. All you need is the right tools for your house. 

Need an HVAC specialist to help you get the right filter? Ready for a new AC? Check out our resources to learn more about your options with House Pro and the tools we can provide.