6 Things That Affect the Lifespan of Your HVAC’s Air Filter


Winter is still months away, but once it strikes, a working HVAC system is going to be the most critical equipment in your home. Ideally, you should make a point of checking your HVAC at least a few weeks before the cold weather sets in.

One of the most important parts to look at is the air filter. Change your air filter regularly to keep your conditioned indoor air free from dirt, dust, and allergens. Whereas air filters have a finite lifespan, several factors determine how long they do last.

1. Quality of Installation

Incorrect HVAC repair and installation can accelerate the aging of your air filter. Look out for spaces or gaps where conditioned air could escape. Pay particular attention to areas around vents and electrical outlets.

Though it will cost you, it is better and more financially prudent to hire an experienced HVAC professional to do the work than to engage the service of an untested contractor.

2. Type of Filter

Air filters are not created equal when it comes to longevity. So the type of air filter you use on your HVAC system will determine how often you need to change it. Typically, lower-cost air filters have a shorter life expectancy, while higher-grade models will last longer.

The most common type is the mechanical air filter–more specifically, the mechanical fiberglass filter. It is a low-cost filter but only captures a small proportion of unwanted particles, so it may need replacing fairly often.

Another option is the washable or pleated filter. These filters are more expensive but are more effective and have a longer lifespan. You can clean the filter monthly by spraying it with a hose.

Before you buy your HVAC’s next air filter, make sure you check what the manufacturer recommends as the ideal replacement cycle.

3. Home Size

An HVAC unit in a small house needs to use less energy to dispense clean, conditioned air to each room. That implies the air filter could last longer.

In larger houses with more floors and rooms, the air filter must work harder and should be replaced quicker.

4. Filter Size

How well does the air filter fit into position? A tight fit might seem like a good idea. However, it might not allow room for some marginal expansion and contraction in line with changes in air temperature passing through it.

If your filter has no expansion room, there is a risk of quicker deterioration than should otherwise occur.

5. Operating Conditions

The conditions your air filter is exposed to will vary by location and by the activities of the house’s residents.

Let’s say, for instance, that your home is in a location prone to high humidity, wide temperature fluctuations, and air contamination. In this case, your air filter is unlikely to last as long as it would if you were in a place with milder air conditions.

Cigarette smoking and pet fur can also wear down your air filter quicker.

6. Condition of the HVAC System

If your HVAC system is faulty, that could wear out your air filter quicker. For example, if you have an issue with the system’s blower or fan leading to reduced noise or airflow during operation, that could steadily damage your air filter. The same applies to condenser units and coils.

Address problems with your HVAC system as soon as possible to prevent additional costly damage to its parts.

Combination of Factors

Usually, how long your air filter can stay in good condition will not depend on just one factor but a combination of these. What’s important is to identify which of these factors are most applicable in your circumstances so you can make the required adjustments to your air filter replacement plan.

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