Home Filters 101

You might think, in the safety of your home, you’re safe from the problem pollution can cause you.  But with thousands of early deaths a year in the United States due to the effects of pollution, you shouldn’t be complacent.  That’s why ensuring you make a filter change on your major appliances could be beneficial to your health. But how often should you be changing your filters?  Don’t worry if you don’t know. Here are the items in the home with filters you should look to change on a regular basis.

  1. Water Filtration

Water filtration is beneficial if you’re worried about the quality of your water supply. Water filters help to filter out toxic chemicals like lead and chlorine to give you cleaner, healthier water to drink and use.  A filtered carafe jug, for instance, might need to a replacement filter every month with regular use. A whole household filtration system, dealing with heavier-duty water contamination, might need replacing every few months.

  1. Range Hood

When we’re cooking, we don’t give much thought to our range hood.  The dirt, grease, and grime which collects up on your range hood exhaust filter. You don’t always have to replace your hood filter, but it does make sense to give it a deep clean on a regular basis.

  1. Vacuum Cleaner

Ever found yourself doing a spot of house cleaning and finding your vacuum cleaner isn’t picking up the dirt like it used to, it’s likely your vacuum’s filter needs replacing.

  1. Air Purifier

Thankfully, most purifiers will alert you when they need you to replace their filter. You can make a quick clean of any ‘pre-filters’ the device has, but the main allergen filter (a high-efficiency particular air filter, or HEPA filter) will need a replacement once or twice a year on average.

  1. Furnace

If you’re not maintaining your furnace filter on a regular basis, you could end up with higher fuel bills and a less efficient heating system. You could cause your system damage, especially if the furnace is having to work harder to clear through any clogged piping.  The filter should be changed once a month.

  1. Air Conditioner

Like our gas furnaces and our air purifiers, you’re going to need to replace filters on your air conditioning unit from time to time to keep it working.

  1. Refrigerator

If your fridge dispenses water or ice, it likely has a filter to ensure the quality of the water or ice stays clean and free of contamination. Don’t be fooled by a taste test, as it doesn’t always guarantee freshness.  Some newer model refrigerator’s also have an air filter. Usually, the refrigerator will notify you when the filters need to be changed.

  1. Microwave

You don’t need to replace a filter on a standalone or countertop microwave, as they don’t have any. Phew!  It’s a different story if you have an over-the-range microwave, however. Because of the position of these, and the impact of their airflow, you’re going to need to deal with the same grease buildup issues your range hood has.

  1. Clothes Dryer

Every time we put our clothes through the dryer, the process of heating and spinning the material around causes your clothes to shed some of their material.  This excess material, or lint, builds up every time you use your dryer. You should clean this filter every time you use the machine, as excess build up can be a potential fire risk.

Don’t Forget to Filter Change Regularly

It isn’t just pollution you should have concerns about. Clogged filters can cause appliances to burn out and make life harder in the home.

That’s why you should get into the habit of making a filter change on all your major appliances on a regular basis.

David H. Wulff, AIA is a retired architect living in Lake Lure


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