Looking to learn how to change a home air filter?
Perfect, you’re in the right spot. In this guide, you’ll learn:
- How often should you replace a home air filter?
- Where are the air filters located on my HVAC system?
- What should you look for in an air filter?
- Are there common mistakes in replacing air filters you can avoid?
- … and much, much more.
Your HVAC system is complicated, but your air filters are not. You just need to know how often to change them, where to look for them, and how to properly install a new filter. This is a DIY project that won’t cause too much stress and won’t take all weekend.
Why change filters? Your energy bills can be affected by dirty air filters and the inefficient flow of air. Allergens like pet dander and dust mites can fill your home’s air without proper filtration. New air filters are a quick, inexpensive, and manageable home maintenance task for clean air and better energy efficiency.
What's In This Guide?
How Often Should You Replace a Home Air Filter?
Your central air/furnace filter should be replaced on a regular basis. Recommendations for filter changes range from every 30 days to once every 6 months, depending on the quality of the filter. Generally, for mid-range quality filters, and to ensure you and your family are experiencing good indoor air quality in your home, changing out to new filters every 90 days is a good practice. If your HVAC unit is running consistently, you might want to change the filters sooner.
What Should You Look for In a Home Air Filter?
One thing to look for is the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values and measures how efficiently the filter captures particles that act as pollutants that would otherwise run right through your heating and air conditioning system. Air quality is important, and you want a furnace filter and air conditioner filter that provides allergen removal without being too expensive. Look for a MERV rating between 7 and 12 for a good balance of efficiency and price. For reference, 1 is the least efficient and 16 is most efficient in the MERV rating scale.
The material to look for is either pleated cotton or polyester fabric filters. Fiberglass filters are less expensive but are also lower on the MERV rating scale.
How to Replace Air Filter in Different Parts of Your Home
Here are the steps you’ll need to take in replacing your home air filters.
- Locate the Filters – You will find filters in one of two places. One will be to look for an air handler cabinet, usually in the blower compartment of the HVAC or furnace unit itself. Lift up the furnace cover and you should find the old air filter in place. You will also want to look for a filter in the return air duct. This is usually located in a wall near the HVAC unit and draws air in from the home to be warmed up or cooled down, depending on the time of year. Be sure to turn the heating and cooling system off before you remove the old filter.
- Determine the size filter you need – The size of your filter can be found either on the old filter itself or you can consult the HVAC manufacturer’s manual for the correct size.
- Remove and replace – When you’ve found and purchased the right replacement filter, you are ready to remove the old and replace it with the new filter. Make double sure you have the right filter and that the filter is facing in the right direction.
If you want to learn more about changing your air filter, take a look at this video:
Mistakes to Avoid in Changing Home Air Filters
Believe it or not, these mistakes with HVAC filters are fairly common and can be avoided by following the steps outlined above.
- Forgetting to replace the old filter – You take the old filter out, get busy with other things, and forget to replace it with a new filter. It can happen – just make sure you stay on task until the new filter is installed.
- Using the wrong sized-filter – be sure to examine the old filter carefully, and look at the factory recommendations for filter size. Filters that are the wrong fit will not work as efficiently.
- Ignore those little arrows on the filter – You’ve got to make sure the airflow is going in the right direction in relation to the filter. Otherwise, the filter won’t be catching all the particulates and gross stuff in the air that it is supposed to be capturing.
It’s not a complicated project, but knowing exactly how it’s done makes all the difference in the world. With a system in place for taking care of your HVAC air filters, here’s to a safer, healthier home for you and your family!