AC filter
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

How often should your AC filter be changed?

Replacing your air filter regularly is critical to an air conditioner’s maintenance. While it is a known fact that your AC filter should be replaced often, it can be challenging to determine how often.

Even though the lifespan of an AC filter is typically mentioned on its packaging, when exactly an AC filter should be replaced can vary depending on several factors. Keep reading to learn how to identify signs that your AC filter requires a replacement and what can affect its lifespan.

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Signs it’s time to replace the AC filter

  • Increase in energy bills: A sudden spike in your electricity bill is one common sign that the air filter requires replacement. This could happen to contaminants accumulating on the filter, making the AC work harder to push air.
  • The back of the AC is heating up: Another sign of the air filter requiring a replacement is the AC unit producing excessive heat.
  • Dust near the vents: If the areas near the vents are getting dusty, it can be a sign that the air filter should be replaced.
  • Inadequate cooling: One common sign that the AC filter should be changed is the AC unit not cooling the room properly.

The lifespan of the air filter

Generally, HVAC air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, but some filters—such as HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters—may last up to 12 months. The type of filter is one critical factor when it comes to the lifespan of AC filters. For example, pleated air filters tend to last longer.

Also, thicker air filters that are more than four inches thick can last longer. Standard fibreglass air filters are generally one inch wide and have a smaller surface area. They are typically replaced every 30 days. There are also washable air filters that do not require replacements; they can be removed when dirty, cleaned, and placed back into the vents.

Common factors that impact how long an AC filter lasts

Despite the recommended filter replacement guidelines on the packaging, an AC filter may require a replacement sooner or later than its expected lifespan depending on the following factors:

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Size of the room

In smaller homes with fewer occupants, AC filters do not typically circulate significant volumes of air, which means they may remain effective past their expected lifespan and do not require frequent replacements. However, in larger homes with more air volume, air filters may have to remove a higher number of airborne particulates to maintain good indoor air quality. This can significantly reduce the lifespan of the filters. 


Pet dander is also removed by most types of air filters, but this can lead to the filter getting clogged. With more pets, the volume of pet dander in the air increases. This can cause the filter to clog up quickly.

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Respiratory issues

People with asthma or respiratory allergies or those sensitive to air quality might need the air filter to be frequently replaced. Regions with high pollution can increase the risk of respiratory issues due to poor air quality.

If you live in such an area, you may need to replace the air filter earlier than its expected life span. You can view more information here about HVAC air filters so you can make an informed decision about choosing the right filter for your needs.


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