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How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter: The Honest Answer

If you're reading this, it's time for a change

How Often Should You Change Your AC Filter? The Honest Answer

“How often should you change your ac filter?”

It’s the single, most common question we get here at ServiceOne.

Believe it or not, it’s also the hardest to answer. Multiple factors affect how often you should change your air conditioning filter, and there is no one “right” response. But here’s what we do know: the more frequently you change your filter, the more efficiently your air conditioner will run.

To determine the best schedule for changing your air conditioning filter, ask yourself these questions:

How Big Is My Home?

Think about it. The smaller the home, the less air the AC system circulates. There’s not as much air moving around in six rooms as there would be in sixteen rooms. The bigger the house, the more air is forced through the filters. The more air forced through the filters, the more dirt gets captured. The dirtier the filter, the more often it needs to be changed.

Someone in a 1400 square foot house, based solely on size, would need to change filters less often than someone in a 3000 square foot house.

Do You Have Health Issues?

Great air quality is especially important to people with pre-existing respiratory ailments. Do you have allergies? Is there an asthma sufferer in your home? How about someone with Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, (COPD)? If anyone in your home has a condition that affects their lungs and their breathing, change your filters more often.

The more dirt, debris, and germs that can be filtered out of the air, the easier people can breathe.

Where Do You Live?

Where you live can affect how often you need to change your air conditioning filters. City dwellers who face smog and air pollution should change filters more often than those who lives in a rural area without air quality issues. However, just because you live in a smaller town or rural area doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to your surroundings. Harvesting crops can increase the amount of dust, pollen, or agricultural residue in the air and may necessitate changing filters more often during certain seasons. Windstorms that blow dust and dirt can also affect air quality.

Do You Own Pets?

Yep. We love our animals. Ginger and I have Tybee Jones, a Bedlington Terrier that we got partly because the breed doesn’t shed. But we’ve had other dogs in the past that DO shed, and believe me, one dog can put a huge amount of hair and dander into the air.

If you have one furred pet, you need to change your filter more than if you had no pets.

If you have multiple hairy pets, you need to change your filter more than if you had just one.

(Tropical fish and amphibians generally don’t increase the need to change the filters!)

You know how when you vacuum, your vacuum bag fills up with hair? Well, your vacuum doesn’t catch it all. Lots of that hair goes airborne and gets pushed through your air conditioning filters, clogging it up quickly.

How Often Do You Run Your System?

If you like having open windows, you might opt to turn off the air on a cool night, or in winter, you might not use your system much at all. Someone who lives in a breezy cool coastal community in the Pacific Northwest or Atlantic Eastern Shore don’t have the same heat and humidity that we do here in the South.

Most of us in Florida run our systems pretty much full-time nine months of the year, so we have to replace our filters more than people in more temperate climates who don’t run their systems all the time.

What Type of Filters Do You Buy?


Filters can be made of fiberglass. These are usually flat, thin, single layer filters that must be changed every 30 days.

Pleated air filters are made of heavier, higher-quality materials. They are thicker and denser with pleated screens. The pleats create additional surface area that can attract and trap more dirt, making them last longer than the flat fiberglass filters.

Your system will work best if you utilize the filters made specifically by the manufacturer for your unit.

The Honest Answer to How Often You Should Change Your AC Filter

Lots of different factors affect how often you need to change your filter, but you can’t go wrong by scheduling systematic, routine filter changes.

For the best performance and optimal efficiency of your air conditioning system, change your filters every 30-45 days – a schedule that accounts for all factors of size, location, health, pets, and the use of your system.

Mark your calendar.  We recommend that when you change your filter, you write the date on the frame so you know exactly when you did it.  Another great technique is to change your filter the day your utility bill arrives every month so your routine is consistent.  Connecting your filter change to your power bill makes sense because clean filters improve the efficiency of your AC system and lower your electric bill. 

For questions about maintenance, quotes on new equipment, or scheduling of a service call, contact us at ServiceOne Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

We care about your comfort.

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