Regularly changing your air filters is one of the most important home maintenance tasks you can perform. Not only does it reduce the risk of pricey HVAC repairs, but it also makes your system run more efficiently. Fortunately, this home maintenance job is fast and easy. Once you get used to replacing air filters, you can usually complete the task in just a couple of minutes. To replace your air filters, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.
Figure Out When to Change Your Air Filters
The first and most important step is simply figuring out when to change your air filter. Usually, you need to change fiberglass filters every 30 days and pleated air filters every 90 days. However, some air conditioners and heaters are different, so you should always check your user’s manual to see how often you should change your filter. If you live in an area with a lot of pollution or you have a lot of pets, you might want to change your filter even more frequently than recommended.
If you don’t know when your filter was last changed, you can figure out whether it needs to be changed by looking at it. If a visual inspection shows that the filter is clogged with dust and grime, it’s time to change it. Since filters are affordable and the consequences of not changing a filter can be so severe, it’s often better to be safe than sorry and swap your filter if you don’t know when it was last replaced.
Discover What Type of Air Filter You Need
Next, you’ll need to stock up on the appropriate type of filter for replacing your current one. There are a lot of filters on the market, but you don’t need to be overwhelmed. If possible, look at your user manual and see what type of filter the manufacturer recommends for your system. You can usually choose from a few different types, like fiberglass filters, electrostatic filters, and pleated fiber filters. Most homeowners find that pleated filters provide a nice blend of affordability and effectiveness, but it’s fine if you prefer a different kind.
The other thing you’ll need to consider when picking filters is their efficacy rating. This rating determines how well the filter removes debris from the air. There are multiple types of measurements used to rate this feature. The most common one is MERV ratings, which use a higher number to indicate that the filter is more airtight. You can check with your manufacturer to discover what MERV level your system can handle. Typical residential systems have a maximum MERV rating of somewhere between 10 and 14.
Find Your Air Filter Location
There are a lot of vents in your home, so you’ll need to find the vent that contains the filter. HVAC filters are usually located at the front of your system’s intake vent. This is a large vent that is usually situated next to the indoor part of your air conditioner or heater. You can often identify this vent because it will pull air into it, and it will usually have small latches to open and close the vent door.
However, keep in mind that some systems might have filters in other spots. For example, certain furnaces have an air filter situated in the lower half of the furnace itself. Some homes might even have multiple air filters, so it’s important to inspect your HVAC system thoroughly and find all filters that need to be changed.
Turn Off Your HVAC System
When you’re ready to replace your filter, you will need to turn off your system. This is important because otherwise your system can turn on halfway through the filter replacement and start pulling in a bunch of grime. To keep your HVAC as clean as possible, make sure you go to your thermostat and set it to “off.” In addition to protecting your HVAC system, turning it off also makes your job easier. Without your system trying to pull in air, it will be easier to remove the old filter.
Take Out and Discard the Old Filter
You can then proceed with removing your old filter. To do this, find the door for your intake vent and open it. Most vents have a small latch that you swivel to the side to let the vent open. If your vent is on the ceiling, keep in mind that it will drop open when you move the latch. It can be helpful to place a hand on the vent door to gently lower it to an open position.
Your air filter should easily drop out once you open the vent door. It can be a little dusty, so if it’s in a position where it can fall, be sure to catch it before it makes a mess. Most air filters will slide right out of the vent. If it’s wedged in there, it’s fine to hook your fingers under the edge and gently tug on it. Once you get the old filter out, you can usually discard it. Only a few types of filters are reusable. Most require you to throw them away, but some may be recyclable.
Add the New Filter to Your HVAC System
Now it’s time to place your new filter into the vent. This is fairly straightforward, but you do need to make sure you put it facing in the correct direction. To do this, just look at the side of your filter. The filter will have small arrows printed on the edge that show which way you’re supposed to position the filter. The filter is meant to be positioned so that the arrows point in the same direction the air is flowing.
Since air flows into the intake vent, this will usually mean that the arrow is pointing away from you and toward the interior of the vent. If you have a filter that slides sideways into your vent, the arrow should point away from the duct and toward your HVAC unit. Once it is in place, you can latch the door over the filter slot.
Restart Your System and Set a New Filter Replacement Reminder
Now that you’ve changed your filter, you just need to start everything back up. Switch your thermostat to the “on” position to start your system running once more. This is also a good time to set a reminder to replace your filter again in 30 to 90 days. Some newer thermostats might have a built-in reminder system. If your thermostat does not remind you, you can still set a reminder by entering one into your phone or writing it down on your calendar.
By taking the time to follow these steps, you can help your HVAC system run as efficiently as possible. Another helpful way to maintain your system is to get routine, professional tune-ups from Triple A Air Conditioning & Heating. Our Flower Mound HVAC company provides a variety of helpful repair, maintenance, and installation services. To schedule your appointment with Triple A Air Conditioning & Heating, give us a call today.