About 40% of people in the U.S. live in places with unhealthy air pollution. That’s 135 million people exposed to high levels of particle or ozone pollution. Both particle matter (PM) and ozone (a chief component of smog) can cause illnesses and can even be deadly.
What’s more, those contaminants don’t restrict themselves to outdoor air. They can make their way inside buildings, including your home.
All that should be enough reason not to delay changing air filters in your home appliances. These include your furnace, air conditioner, humidifier, dehumidifier, or air purifier filters. Most experts recommend cleaning or replacing these at least once every three months.
That’s only a general guideline, though, as some people may need fresh filters more often. We outlined the factors influencing the frequency of filter changes in this guide, so be sure to read on!
You Live Somewhere With Unhealthy Air
Where exactly you live can be enough to answer the question, “how often should you change a dirty air filter?”
Many of the most polluted U.S. cities are in none other than the Golden State. Los Angeles, CA, tops the list of the most ozone-polluted cities. Bakersfield, CA, ranks first for year-round particle pollution.
If you live in an area with a similar problem, your air filters are sure to accumulate pollutants faster. For this reason, consider replacing air filters at least once a month.
It’s also a smart practice to take a peek at your filters once every few weeks to see how they’re holding up, especially during peak temperature months. Hold the filtration device up against the light to see how good (or bad) the light transmission is. If it’s nearly or completely blocked, it’s time to replace it with a clean filter.
A Household Member Has Allergies or Asthma
One of the chief reasons to invest in quality air filters is to help reduce allergens inside your home. Controlling allergens, in turn, can help prevent allergies, allergy-like symptoms, and asthma.
Some allergens, such as tree pollen, grass, weed, and ragweed, are seasonal. In the U.S., tree pollen season is usually during late March to April, while grass pops up around May. Weed season is mostly throughout summer, while ragweed starts from summer to fall.
If you or anyone in the fam has pollen allergies, change air filters more often during pollen season. Inspect the filters every few weeks, and clean or replace them every month or two.
Note that some allergens are perennial, such as the dust mites found in at least four in five U.S. homes. Mold can grow year-round, too, as they only need water, nutrients, and oxygen to thrive.
You can follow the same filter-changing schedules for pollen seasons. However, the best way to reduce dust mites and mold is to control their populations within your home. Timely filter changes can complement these allergy or asthma preventive measures.
For example, controlling dust mites often require frequent vacuuming and fabric cleaning. Have your mattresses, beddings, upholstery, and carpets washed and dried thoroughly. The more of these mites you eliminate, the better your indoor air quality (IAQ) can be.
As for mold, indoor growths are always signs of excessive moisture levels. Have your home inspected for water leaks, and have those repaired as soon as possible.
You Have Pets
Almost 184 million families in the U.S. have cats or dogs. If yours is one of them, it’s best to change air filters at least every two months.
However, note that spring and fall are the most common seasons in which some breeds of dogs shed. Cats also lose some of their hair during spring as the weather turns warmer.
In any case, the thicker and longer the animal’s fur, the more likely and more heavily they can shed. As always, take a peek at your air filters every few weeks so that you can monitor how heavy their clogging is. You may also want to invest in odor-reducing air filters to control unwanted pet odors at home.
You Use Fuel-Burning Combustion Appliances
Appliances that burn coal, fuel oil, natural gas, or wood can all produce air pollutants. They produce gas and particle contaminants through the process of combustion. These include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and PM.
Those byproducts are among the most common causes of poor indoor air quality.
Do note that standard air filters can trap PM but not combustion gases. By contrast, activated carbon air filters work on chemicals, gas, smoke, and particulates. On the other hand, HEPA filters are the most efficient in entrapping smaller particles such as PM and combustion gases.
If your combustion appliances see regular use, it might be best to replace air filters once a month.
You Have New Carpets or Flooring
Carpets, accounting for half of the U.S. flooring market, can produce pollutants. Wait, what? These pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gas, and particle matter. New carpets tend to have more of these contaminants; some of them are behind new carpet odors.
New floors can also contribute to poor IAQ, especially those installed with adhesive. Their coating or finishing can also introduce VOCs and semi-VOCs into your indoor air.
As such, it’s a good idea to switch air filters more frequently if you have new carpets, rugs, or floors at home.
Other Situations That Warrant More Frequent Filter Changes
If your home is near a busy street, consider replacing air filters more often. The same goes if there’s a nearby construction site or manufacturing facility. These areas tend to have more highly polluted outdoor air, which can affect your home’s IAQ.
Changing Air Filters as Needed Can Help Boost IAQ
As you can see, plenty of situations can warrant changing air filters more often than once every 3 months. The most important thing is to be vigilant on your filter’s health and never to delay needed replacements. Otherwise, your filters won’t be able to do their job, or worse, they can compound your poor IAQ woes.
Do you need to change air filters ASAP but worried about the cost? If so, then let us help. We have AIRx Filters which are American-made and highly affordable!