Do a Building’s Air Filters Need to Be Changed More Frequently in the Summer?
Air filters are very simple, relatively inexpensive components of your building’s heating and cooling system. They may seem insignificant, but they actually play an important role in keeping your indoor air clean and ensuring your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump runs properly. Regular air filter changes are vital, but it is possible that filters may need to be changed more frequently in the summertime. Here is a quick overview of air filters and reasons why it may be necessary to change them more often during the summer cooling season.
The Purpose of HVAC System Air Filters
Air filters remove particulates from the air circulating through your building’s HVAC system. They are installed in a location where all the air moving through your heating or cooling equipment has to pass through the filter. The filter medium, usually spun fiberglass in standard filters or pleated cloth in higher-grade filters, traps and holds the particulates. In this way, HVAC system air filters help improve indoor air quality by removing material such as:
- Paper particles
- Wood particles
- Metal particles
Some high-grade air filters can also remove very small particulates, along with vapors and odors. Air filters also contribute to maintaining the air flow that HVAC systems need to function properly and at their highest level of efficiency. Dirty, clogged filters that impede this air flow can cause problems in the system, up to and including actual damage to the equipment and its components.
General Rules for Air Filter Changes
A good general rule for air filter changes is that they should be checked every month and changed when they get dirty. A monthly visual inspection allows you to make sure that the filter is still clean enough to do its job or, on the other hand, to find out if it is too dirty to work properly. Pleated cloth filters will usually last longer than types made of fiberglass.
Dirt and particulates will usually be clearly visible on the filter medium. An effective technique for checking filters is to hold them up to a bright light source, such as a bare light bulb. If you can’t see the light through the filter, it’s dirty and should be changed.
Reasons to Change More Often in Summer
There are several reasons why it may be necessary to change your building’s air filter more often in the summer.
- Cooling system is running more often: As outdoor temperatures increase, you’ll be running your cooling system more frequently, perhaps even constantly. This means that a much larger volume of air will be moving through the system’s air filters. At the same time, there will be more particulates hitting the filter, which means it is very likely to get dirty faster.
- Increased allergens: Summer also means more allergens in the air, such as pollen. If your building is near a busy street or highway, increased summer travel may generate more vehicle exhaust and fumes. HVAC air filters will be needed to help remove these materials, and if they accumulate quickly, the filters will need to be changed more often.
- Additional particulates in the air: Along with allergens, there will also likely be a general increase in particulates in the air in and around your building. Activities such as mowing grass, indoor or outdoor renovations, local construction, or landscaping can put more dust, dirt, and related particulates in the air. You’ll count on your HVAC system air filter to help remove these materials and keep them out of your indoor environment. Again, more particulates in your building’s air filters means that the filters will need more frequent changes.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on taking care of your HVAC system’s air filter and when to change it, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!