Why and How To Change Your Air Conditioning Filter
The air filter’s job is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. You’d be amazed how much builds up on there in a very short time. When your AC filter gets clogged, dust and dirt start getting into the air conditioner itself, causing wear and tear on the parts. You probably know what that means: the more wear and tear on the parts, the sooner they wear out and you’re dealing with a breakdown. A clogged filter also prevents enough air from flowing through the system to keep it working properly. Learn about changing your AC filter by reading below.
According to ENERGY STAR, you should check and change the AC filter every month during peak season.
How to Change An AC Filter
Follow these easy steps to change the AC filter and keep your system running reliably.
How to Change the AC Filter: Locate the filter
Believe it or not, it’s easy to learn how to change an AC filter. Before you can do it, though, you need to locate the air filter in the first place. That can be the tricky part because there are several places it could be.
In some systems, the filters are located in the return air duct. This is the one that pulls air from your space back into the air conditioner’s air handler system. If you have a large system with multiple air handlers and return ducts, finding the filters can be a challenge.
If both your heating and air conditioning systems share the same ducts, it’s also possible that the air filter for both systems is located in or near the blower system for the furnace. If so, it’s usually in the front of the furnace near the bottom. You may be able to see and access the filter without opening anything, or you might have to open a metal panel (marked FILTER) on the front or the top of the blower. The panel may be attached with hooks or screws.
Your best bet is to ask your HVAC service tech. Just let him know that you want to learn how to change the AC filter, and he’ll be able to show you where the filter is located, how to remove the old one and insert the new one, and how to get the right filters.
How to Change the AC Filter: Use the right replacement filters!
The other potentially tricky part is making sure you use the right filters. The filter size is usually printed on the side of the filter. When in doubt, the easiest solution is to ask your HVAC tech to get you a supply of the right filters or show you the size information on the filter so you can order them yourself.
Also, keep in mind that you might want filters that do more than just keep dust out of your air conditioner. If you want to improve air quality in your space by cleaning the air of pollen, mold and other harmful contaminants, you need to invest in HEPA filters with a MERV rating of 10 or higher. Climatech of Professional Air offers great Indoor Air Purification solutions.
How to Change the AC Filter: Steps to replace
1. Turn off the power. This is important for two reasons. First, for your safety. Don’t risk touching live voltage. The second reason is the safety of your equipment. If the unit is still running while you’re removing the clogged filter, dust and debris can get sucked into the unit. It’s important that you switch off power at the unit itself, and also at the circuit breaker.
2. Remove the old filter. Simply slide it out of the slot that holds it in place.
3. Check the condition of the filter. Once you’ve taken out the filter, check the condition. Does it look clogged with dirt and dust? If you hold it up to the light, you probably can’t see much light coming through. This filter needs to be replaced or cleaned, depending on the type of filter you are using. Even if it’s been in use less than the time recommended by the manufacturer, replace it anyway. Many factors can impact how fast your filters get clogged.
4. Clean the filter or get a new one. Are you using disposable filters or reusable ones? A disposable filter typically has a cardboard frame and a paper or fiber mesh surface. A permanent, reusable filter is made of a more sturdy material with a metal frame and a special coating to make it washable. If you’re cleaning a reusable one, check the manufacturer’s instructions for washing. You’ll probably just need to rinse with water and let dry completely. Or in some cases, you can just vacuum away the dust.
5. Insert the new or cleaned filter. Now you just need to put it back in the right way. An arrow on the filter’s frame shows you the direction that air should flow through the filter, which is always away from the return air duct and toward the air handler mechanism. When you insert the filter back in the housing, make sure that arrow points away from the return and toward the air handler.
See, wasn’t that easy? Now that you know how to change an AC filter, set a reminder for yourself so you remember to do it every month. And, don’t forget about your furnace if its filters are separate from your air conditioner.
If by any chance you don’t have a regular HVAC service tech to ask about how to change an AC filter, it’s likely that you’ve been neglecting other important maintenance tasks besides changing AC filters. In this case, you should read about the importance of HVAC maintenance programs for your home’s system.
Climatech of Professional Air is a licensed and insured HVAC Contractor located in Pensacola, FL. For more than 40 years, we’ve been providing our customers with the very best in honest, professional and courteous service.