The Truth About Dirty Furnace Filters

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Do you know how often to change your furnace filters? I’m talking about the furnace and air conditioning air filters in your home. My cute neighbor called me a few years ago to come over and help her figure out what was wrong with her air conditioner since she couldn’t get it to turn on.

Here’s the deal, I absolutely love to figure out why something does or does not work. I want to know how to turn off the water lines, gas line or where the breakers are located, etc. I really think it’s because I am left-handed. I am not sure.

The first question out of my mouth was “when was the last time you changed your furnace filters?” She said two months. Okay, that’s about right. I went over and checked the thermostat and the outside HUGE power breaker for the air conditioner. My husband went with me and he pulled the breaker out and put it back in to test it. We tested the regular circuit breakers to make sure nothing was tripped on the board.

HVAC-what it means

I looked up in the ceiling where the vents are located in most of the homes in our neighborhood. I mentioned to her that she should keep those vacuumed and that we all needed to change the filters on a consistent basis. We could see they were dirty and needed to be replaced. Then we checked everything we could check before she called a repair company.

I then gave her a phone number for the company I use to repair my HVAC units. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC controls the very indoor air we breathe every day.

This is why the furnace filters must be changed at least every 30-60 days. After checking out the system the HVAC company concluded the problem was due to the furnace filters being EXTREMELY dirty and that caused a tripped safety switch. She had to pay for a service call, but thank goodness it did not blow the compressor or wear out the fan motor. WooHoo!

dirty-air-filter

Dirty Furnace Filters

She for sure needs to change her furnace filters more often. I have to laugh because I call her my BFF on the street. She told me in her last house she owned she had not changed them once in 14 years. Oh my gosh. LOL! We were surprised the air conditioning and furnace still work. I adore her, but we will now go over and replace her air filters when we replace ours.

This is not the first time I have seen air filters that have not been changed as often as they should have been. I used to sell real estate and one of the things I always looked at when showing a home to someone is that I would check the air filters. If the filters were clean I could almost assume the rest of the house was cared for in a good way.

I really wanted to add this post during this article this month to make sure everyone is prepared for the winter. There might be a neighbor of yours that could use some help to replace their air filters. It seems like every year we hear or read about people who have died in their homes from the heat in the summer due to faulty air conditioning, or cold in the winter when the furnace isn’t working right. It’s critical we know our neighbors because they might not have anyone who checks on them.

Critical Things about Furnace Filters

1. You breathe the air that is circulating in your house if they are dirty, oh my, just think about what you are breathing,

2. Clean air filters mean less strain on the A/C or furnace motor.

3. If you can’t see through the furnace filters they probably need to be replaced. People with pets ( if they are the type that shed) may need to replace their air filters more often. Don’t go cheap just to save money on the filters. You may spend more in the long run if a family member gets sick, or if your HVAC unit wears out sooner than expected. Try different filter brands and capacities to see what works best for your family. It could be you can do just fine with the less expensive filters.

5. I have a lot of allergies so I buy the 3M Ultra Allergen 1500 filters.

6. You will save energy bills by having clean filters-no reason to waste $$$$ on energy bills if a clean air filter will help cut your bills.

7. Having clean air filters will actually extend the life of your A/C or furnace unit.

8. If you have allergies or asthma it’s critical that you replace them more often-maybe even more than once a month.

9. Check around and buy several so you always have a few spares on hand.

10. If you rent, be sure and ask your landlord if they will provide extra air filters for you to keep on hand since it saves them repairs in the long run.

Outside air quality

Here is a link to National Air Quality Outside Levels (you can decide if the air quality is good for your health to venture outside or to open windows).  All you need to do is enter your zip code. Please change your furnace filters often to keep your family safe and help your equipment to last longer.

Debra: Don’t forget to have your chimney swept and your dryer vent cleaning on a schedule too.

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10 thoughts on “The Truth About Dirty Furnace Filters

  • September 14, 2014 at 7:08 am
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    up to 90 days means wall to wall carpet, no pets , no kids and no open windows! everybody else 30 days max, the higher the merv the harder it is on your fan motor, dirty high merv filters are like getting air through plywood. check your owners manual (fan motors come in a variety of strengths) for recommendations or download the pdf if the the manual went with the packaging.

    Reply
    • September 14, 2014 at 7:56 am
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      Hi Vinnie, I am with you on the 30 days. I change mine every 30 days to 45 days depending on if the A/C is run or not. Thanks for commenting! I really want to get the word out to people to change their air filters. They need to be changed! Blessings to you! Linda

      Reply
  • September 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm
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    Tks for the reminder forgot to put it on the calendar last month & this.
    Wow it was very dirty!

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    • September 15, 2014 at 8:25 am
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      Hi Bubba, I am glad you saw the post about the air filters. We have to use a calendar too! LOL! We always forget when we changed them last. Happy Monday! Linda

      Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 8:23 am
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    We had a furnace guy come to service ours and he told me if you take a “cheap” filter and spray it with either hair spray or cooking spray in a can you get twice as much dirt and hair, etc. YOU MUST LET FILTER DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE PLACING IN FURNACE!! We have done this for years and it works great , I have 3 dogs and 2 cats and have fur everywhere. We change every 30 days .

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    • October 23, 2018 at 8:28 am
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      HI Debbie, oh my gosh, this is a great tip!!! Thank you so much, Linda

      Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 8:30 am
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    Linda, I want to know how you seem to be writing articles about the same things that I am concerned with? It is uncanny. I have been washing grates, and inside furnace ducts as far as I can reach. I will soon call a professional to clean the inside of the ducts. Good article.

    Reply
    • October 23, 2018 at 8:37 am
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      Hi Janet, you are so nice!!!! I actually wrote this one about 5 years ago, I think. I updated it a bit because I want to make sure people know how easy it is to do things. I always hope my articles help others to keep their homes tip top on a budget. I had my ducts cleaned about two years ago and I was amazed at how much the dust in my house has decreased. Dusting is not one of my favorite cleaning jobs. My husband does the dusting. Thanks again, Linda

      Reply
  • October 31, 2018 at 10:11 am
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    I love your posts. Don’t forget to have your chimney swept and your dryer vent cleaning on a schedule too.

    Reply
    • October 31, 2018 at 10:45 am
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      Hi Debra, oh my gosh, I need to add that to my post. I haven’t had a chimney for ten years!! I’m on it. Thanks for the reminder. Linda

      Reply

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