Regularly changing the air filters in your central air system is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to keep your HVAC system running efficiently, especially in the Philadelphia area where seasons can dictate varying levels of air quality concerns such as pollen in spring and debris in fall. Here’s how to ensure you’re changing your filters correctly and optimally:

1. Choose the Right Filter

  • Select the Correct Size: Filters must fit snugly. Check your system’s manual or the current filter for dimensions.
  • Consider Filter Quality: Filters are rated based on their MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings. Philadelphia homeowners might prefer filters with higher MERV ratings during high allergen seasons to capture smaller particles.

2. Frequency of Change

  • Regular Changes: The standard recommendation is every 90 days for typical suburban homes, but consider evaluating your needs based on local conditions. In areas like Philadelphia, where seasons can dramatically change environmental allergens, it might be wise to change filters every 60 days during high pollen seasons or if you have pets.
  • Check More Frequently: Visually inspect filters at least once a month. If they look clogged or dirty, replace them sooner.

3. Changing the Filter

  • Turn Off the Unit: Always turn off the unit before changing the filter to prevent any loose debris from being pulled into the ducts.
  • Remove the Old Filter: Slide it out carefully and check its condition. A very dirty filter is a sign you might need to change them more frequently.
  • Insert the New Filter: Make sure it faces the correct direction. Filters have arrows showing the proper orientation toward the airflow.
  • Secure the Access Panel: Make sure it’s sealed back properly to avoid any air bypass.

4. Disposal of the Old Filter

  • Proper Disposal: Used filters can accumulate a lot of dust and allergens, so dispose of them in a garbage bag to prevent any spread of dust in the house.

5. Keep Track

  • Record the Change: Keep a log of filter changes and any noticeable effects on air quality or system performance. This can help you better understand how often your filters truly need changing based on real-world use.

6. Consider a Professional Check-Up

  • Annual Maintenance: While changing filters is a DIY task, have a professional like McCorry Comfort check your HVAC system annually. This check-up can catch issues that aren’t as easily remedied by simple filter changes, such as duct leaks or coolant needs.

By following these best practices, homeowners in the Philadelphia area can significantly improve their home's air quality and the efficiency of their HVAC system. Regularly changing air filters is a small but crucial task that can lead to better health, lower energy bills, and longer-lasting heating and cooling systems.