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Home Care 101: Signs You Need to Replace Your Home Air Filter

Every year, air pollution kills around 7 million people globally. The World Health Organization tells us that 9 out of 10 people breathe air exceeding WHO guideline pollutant limits.

Whether it’s smog in your city or the air in your home, air pollution causes increased mortality. 

Long-term air pollution effects include lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory diseases. Plus, it can cause long-term damage to the kidneys, liver, brain, nerves, and other organs.

You must change your home air filter regularly to avoid pollution in your own home. If you’re unsure as to how often you should change it, keep reading to find out!

Waiting to Change Your Air Filter Causes Problems

Air filters aren’t designed to last forever. As a homeowner or business owner, it’s your responsibility to track when you last installed them so you know when it’s time to switch them out.

If you wait too long for changing an air filter in your home, it can become overloaded and then collapse. What that does is cause even more issues for your air quality and your HVAC equipment.

A collapsed air filter can make a big gap or get lodged in your fan, resulting in the air floating around the filter and then entering the home without being filtered. Breathing non-filtered air can negatively impact your health and lead to breathing problems. 

How Often to Change Your Air Filter

Every home is different, which is why there isn’t a finite answer to the question of how often to change your air filter.

First and foremost, the type of filter you use plays a significant role in how often you must replace it. For cheaper fiberglass filters, you should change yours at least every 30 days. For higher-end pleated filters, they are supposed to be changed out at least once every 3 months.

Every filter package tells you how long it should last, but it’s a good idea to change yours before you reach that date. Other factors can influence that date, too.


If you have pets, you should conduct a home air filter replacement more often than households without pets. That’s because pets inevitably cause an increase in fur, dust, and dander floating throughout the air in your house. 

After some time, these pollutants stick together and can block the flow of air in your home’s filter. If you have more than one pet, the buildup happens much faster and can eventually impede the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Allergies or Asthma

If you suffer from asthma or allergies, you should change your home air filters more than other households. It’s also important to use a filter with a higher MERV rating specific for allergy sufferers. Those with respiratory issues are significantly more sensitive to airborne particles.

If you’re one of those people or have someone in your home who is, you should change your filter every 6 weeks to keep your indoor air quality at its best.

If you notice symptoms worsening, such as runny noses, sneezing, or coughing, you might want to check and see if your filters need changing.

Number of People in Your Home

Another factor that influences how often you should be changing the air filter in your home has to do with how many people live in your home.

The fewer the contaminants, the less often you’ll need to change your filters. The more people there are in a home, the more contaminants there are.

Vacation homes, for example, can get away with changing their air filters every 6 months. If you live alone and don’t have any pets, you could also get away with extending the life of your filters.

Seasonal Changes

Flu and allergy seasons call for high-efficiency filters. During renovations, there’s a greater chance of dust and dirt circulating, too. In those times, you should also change your filter more frequently.

If you’ve been noticing that you must vacuum your home more regularly, it might be indicative that your filters need a change.

Signs It’s Time to Change the Air Filters in Your Home

We discussed some of the main reasons why there’s no set requirement for when one should change their home’s filters. If you’re still unsure, there are some telltale signs to look out for that indicate it’s time for a filter change.

You Notice a Bill Increase

If you notice your electricity bill creeping higher, it can be difficult to determine why. It could be that your HVAC system isn’t functioning properly or that you have a faulty appliance.

In hotter climates, summer months warrant higher bills because people rely on AC. However, if the bill is higher than normal, it could mean you’ve got a dirty air filter. A dirty filter can lead to more severe HVAC issues, which is why you should check your filter immediately upon noticing a higher bill.

There’s More Dust Around Your Vents

Another sign of a dirty air filter is finding dust hanging out around furniture and other surfaces near your vents. If the surfaces closer to the vents are dustier than others, it’s a definite sign that you need to replace your filter.

You can also do a “white sheet test” if you want to be sure. Hand a clean white sheet about 5 inches away from one of the vents for an hour or two. If the sheet turns gray, it means you have a filthy air filter. 

Some other common signs that it’s time to change your filter are:

  • The AC unit is too hot
  • The air isn’t getting cold enough
  • You find yourself vacuuming more than usual
  • You or someone is suffering more allergy attacks
  • You can’t remember when you last changed it
  • You haven’t scheduled regular AC maintenance

Keep Your Family Safe By Changing Your Home Air Filter

Breathing polluted air can lead to a myriad of health issues, from lung cancer to asthma. Take a look at the filters you use and consider how many people live in your household to better determine how often to change your home air filter.

Do you have pets? Is it flu season? Is your AC working harder during those hot summer months? Don’t forget to take those additional factors into consideration and make sure you keep track of each filter change.

If you aren’t sure whether it’s time to change your filter, look for those telltale signs that your filter is dirty.

If you’re in the market for any type of filter, check out our wide variety of filters from furnace to fridge and everything in between.

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