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Changing the air filters for your furnace is an important, but sometimes overlooked, home maintenance task. Regularly replacing your furnace’s filter can not only improve the air quality in your home, but can also save you money by making your heating system operate more efficiently.

furnace filter

The main reasons for changing furnace air filters

There are three major reasons why it’s important to change your furnace filters. First, when a filter becomes dirty after several weeks of catching dust and small bits of debris, it causes your furnace’s blower to work harder. That means it takes more energy for your furnace to keep your home at your accustomed level of warmth. Changing your furnace filter can help trim your energy bill by allowing your heating system to provide your house with warmth while using less energy to do it.

Second, a dirty furnace filter can become clogged with the particles that it’s designed to remove from the air – particles like dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and soot. As a result, it will lose its ability to catch dirt and dust, and those particles will end up circulating in the air throughout your home. Replacing your dirty furnace filters regularly ensures better air quality in your home, which is particularly important if you have young children or elderly people living with you, or if there’s someone in your home who has asthma or allergies.

Third, a blocked furnace filter can cause damage to your furnace unit. As noted above, a dirty furnace filter will hamper airflow, which over time makes your heating unit work harder to move the warm air needed to maintain the desired temperature in your home. This overwork can lead the furnace’s motor to overheat and burn out. Emergency maintenance for your furnace system can be an even bigger drain on your bank account than a high energy bill, and you don’t want to be stuck without heat for any length of time during the cold winter months.

How often you should change your furnace filters

The importance of replacing furnace filters is well-known, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how often homeowners should change their filters. The frequency of filter replacements can range from once every month to once every three months. The unique circumstances of your home will help you determine just how often your furnace filter should be changed. Consider these factors:

  • As noted earlier, a clean furnace filter can help people in your home with respiratory problems. If you have someone in your home with asthma or allergies, you may want to replace your furnace filter more frequently to ensure the air circulating in your home is as clean as it can be.
  • If you have pets in your home, have someone in your home who smokes, or live in an area that may have higher levels of particulate matter (because of construction or heavy traffic), you’ll want to change your filter more frequently.
  • Check the furnace filter that you’re using. Depending on the manufacturer and type of furnace filter, there may be recommendations for how frequently the filters should be replaced. For instance, high-efficiency filters tend to remove more particles from the air, but because of that efficiency, they also tend to get clogged faster and need to be replaced more often.