How do I change my HVAC filters?

Erin Easley

Written By Erin Easley

Published 03/12/20
How do I change my HVAC filters

Homeownership is exciting and comes with maintenance responsibilities, like cleaning gutters, mowing the lawn, and cleaning or change HVAC filter. The later is what we are going to discuss here today.

The general recommendation to clean or change the air conditioning filter or HVAC filter is once a month, and many homeowners will replace the batteries in their smoke detectors at the same time. This regular maintenance step will ensure that the air conditioner or HVAC system is working at top condition without having to work harder than necessary. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption.

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Preparing To Change Your HVAC Filter

While changing or cleaning the AC or HVAC filter is one of the simplest things you can do, if you have never done it before, review the instructions in the owner’s manual first. This should tell you what size and shape of filter to purchase – and there are many and it does make a difference. If your home is an older home and there is not manufacture manual handy, you will be able to see what shape, size, and type of filter it requires when you remove the current one.

Also, if you do not follow the recommendations given by the manufacturer, you could be voiding any warranty or any HVAC warranty plans that may have come with the unit and your home. The owner’s manual should also advise you how to change the HVAC filter, but if not, we offer the following general instructions:

How To Change An HVAC Filter

    1. Turn the HVAC system off before you begin.
    2. Looking at the ductwork, you will be able to determine where the filter is located. If you have an AC window unit, you’ll need to pull open or remove the front grill and further directions may vary a bit, but in general, they are the same.
    3. Every HVAC unit works generally the same way: Outside air is pulled in and blows out through the filter after being cooled or heated, and then blown into your home. The HVAC filter is situated in between where the air comes in and where it goes back into the system via the ductwork.
    4. Once you locate the filter, if you haven’t found what shape, size or type of filter is required, you can look at what is on the current filter. Be sure to make a mental note or take a picture with your cell phone on how it comes out. You’ll need to know this when installing the new one. You want to purchase the same shape and size, and when it comes to types, you may want to change it if anyone in the house has allergies.
    5. Now you will take the new filter you’ve purchased and slide it in where the old filter came out. Make sure you have it in the right direction, meaning, one side of the filter is made to suck in that outside air and one side is made for that air to blow back out. (This is where the recommendation to take a picture will come into play).
    6. Now close the access panel and turn the HVAC system back on. Grab your favorite beverage and sit back to enjoy that clean air you get from this homeownership maintenance responsibility!

What About Cleaning Those Filters?

There are reusable filters for air conditioners and HVAC system these days. They are more expensive to purchase, but they are reusable because they can be washed and returned to the system, thus getting your money’s worth.

Here Is How To Clean AC Air Filter

A window AC unit filter is much easier to get to than an HVAC system. You simply, but carefully, pull off the front grill and the filter will either snap out or is pulled up or down. Rinse it with nothing but clear water in the bathtub, kitchen sink, or outside with a water house. Allow it to stand up right where it can dry then return it, following the same steps in reverse.

Here Is How To Clean HVAC System When Filter Is Reusable

After you have removed the filter through the access panel as instructed above, simply run clear water through it in the bathtub, kitchen sink, or in the yard with a water hose. You want the water to have force, but not too strong as to rip a hole through it. Then set it someplace where it can dry, and then return it to the HVAC system.

If you have a home warranty plan, like those offered by Liberty Home Guard, check with your policy to see if filter changing or cleaning is covered by the policy before you begin. If not, you should inquire how you can get full HVAC coverage that does offer this service.

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