How to Change Your Home Air Filter: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Do you know why you have to change your home air filter regularly? Every HVAC technician will tell you that changing your filter is key to maintaining the efficiency of the AC portion of your HVAC system. Air filter replacement also brings lots of physical, economic, and health benefits.

Changing your home air filter will improve your indoor air quality, along with the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your HVAC system. This article provides a step-by-step guide to changing your home air filter the right way. Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of changing your home air filters.

Benefits of Changing Your Home Air Filters

Below are some reasons why you should replace your air filters regularly:

  • Eliminates dirt and improve indoor air quality
  • Makes the air in your home breathable and healthier
  • Improves performance of your HVAC system
  • Extends the service life of your heating and cooling systems
  • Reduces dust, bad odor, and any pungent smells in your home

Changing your home air filters can also help save energy cost of heating and cooling. Research has shown that keeping your air filter clean and in excellent condition can help homeowners save up to 15% in utility costs. 

Likewise, you can use the opportunity to eliminate carbon monoxide and some greenhouse gasses that are known to affect the environment. Therefore, replacing your air filters regularly is beneficial for your health, household, and immediate environment at large.

Step-By-Step Guide to Change Your Home Air Filter

Step 1: Turn Off the HVAC Unit

It is highly recommended that you turn off your HVAC system before attempting any form of maintenance. The major reason is to protect both yourself and the system. You may also need to disconnect the system completely from the power source.

There are two major places to turn off your HVAC unit before attempting to replace the air filter. Start with the thermostat – turn off all heating and air conditioning. Next, find the circuit board near the big unit (this is mostly found outside), and turn it off. If possible, unplug it from the power source.

Step 2: Locate the Air Filter

If you are changing your air filter for the first time, locating it can be a challenge. Depending on the unit, you can find the filter in a variety of places. The first thing to do is to consult your owners’ manual if it is available. The air filter may be found behind the grille, in the air-handler cabinet, or in a small filter rack between the furnace wall and return box. It all depends on the type and design of your system.

Step 3: Remove the Screws

When you find the air filter, you will need to remove the screw holding the lid in order to get to it and get it out. Use the right tool and keep the screw in a visible place. You shouldn’t force the air filter to come out. Take time to remove every screw, and it will be easy to get it out without making any mess.

Step 4: Remove the Old Filter

Used air filters look dirty – remember that they literally trap dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. You will need to be careful while removing it. It is advisable to bring in a large trash bag that will contain the filter so that you can dump it in immediately you take it out. Even if you intend to wash an old filter, put it in a trash bag and take it outside to wash. You do not want to drag a dirty air filter through your home. 

Step 5: Determine the Size of the Filter and Buy the Right Replacement Filter

Knowing the right kind of filter to buy is key to successful air filter replacement. You need to find out the size and type of filter you need early enough. Most manufacturers recommend/specify the best filter for their units, and you will likely find the information in your users’ manual.

If you don’t have access to your manual or can’t find the information there, check the old filter you have removed. You can always find the filter’s dimensions, brand, rating, and model number written on it. With the information, you will be able to purchase the right one for replacement.

Step 6: Wash the Cabinet Cover

It is very important that you wash the cabinet cover or grille before replacing your home air filter. It is likely that some dirt will be lodged in any of the places you removed your old filter from, and you have to get rid of the dirt before introducing the clean, new air filter.

Cleaning before replacing your air filter shouldn’t be a big deal. You can choose to vacuum dust away or clean the cover with warm soapy water. This will both improve your air quality after the replacement, and improve the lifespan of your new filter.

Step 7: Install the New Air Filter

Write the correct date of replacement on the filter if there is space for that. Next, you need to check the arrows on the new filter to ensure that you are putting it in the right way. It is also important that you slid the new filter into its slot carefully. Afterward, replace the lid, and screw it back on, if that applies.

Step 8: Turn the Unit Back On

After changing your air filter successfully, switch it back on and monitor its performance. Remember where and how you switched off the unit to start the replacement. You will need to plug in the system again, if that applies, switch on the unit, and set the thermostat the way you want it.

Wrapping It Up

Air filter replacement is just one of many ways to boost the efficiency of your HVAC unit and improve your indoor air quality. Turn off the HVAC unit, locate the air filter, remove the screws, and remove the old filter. Choose the right filter size, wash the cabinet cover, and install a new filter. When you do it the right way, it delivers many benefits to your household. Ensure that you follow the steps we have discussed here diligently to get it right the first time.