Air filters perform a thankless but critical job—maintaining a comfortable temperature and a healthy air quality inside of your home. These disposable spun fiberglass components of your AC are usually out of sight and out of mind—that is, until your unit malfunctions. A dirty, clogged filter may be the culprit. To avoid trouble with your system, be aware of these signs that you may need to replace its filter.

An Accumulation of Dust and Dirt Around Air Vents

When air filters become clogged they begin to release dirt and contaminants back into your heating and cooling system, which can get discharged through your air vents. Dust around the vents doesn’t always mean that your filter needs to be changed—your ducts may also be clogged. However, if you do see dust and dirt around vents it’s definitely a good idea to check your filter.

Your Electricity Bill Surges Inexplicably

A clogged air filter will make your heating and cooling system work harder to maintain the temperature you set inside your home, which consumes more energy. Since up to half of your monthly bill consists of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, if your bill spikes for no known reason, you should check your filter.

Your Allergies Worsen

If you or anyone in your family suffer from allergies and you notice that they begin to flare-up more than usual, check to see if your air filter is worn and needs to be replaced.

The Air Filter Looks Dirty or Damaged

This one’s pretty obvious. A simple visual check of your filter will determine whether or not it needs to be changed. If your filter is covered in dust and debris, or has holes or other signs of wear, it should be replaced.

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