The most frequently asked question about HVAC systems is how to clean an HVAC filter. That said, scheduling some cleaning time is one of the most important things you must do for your HVAC filter. This is especially true ahead of a new season where you might need it. 

As a safety measure, ensure that your HVAC system is switched off. Find your HVAC unit service component, and open it to locate the filter cartridge. Use clean water or a hose to clean an HVAC Filter. Ensure the HVAC filter is completely dry before inserting it back into the HVAC system. 

Dirt on the HVAC filter might accumulate over time. Over time it can reduce the filter’s efficiency. In the worst-case situation, it may disrupt the airflow in your home. 

Cleaning your HVAC filter regularly will guarantee that it works as efficiently as possible. Having said that, learning how to clean an HVAC filter is an essential part of HVAC filter maintenance. 

So, if your HVAC filter needs to be cleaned, follow our step-by-step guide on how to clean an HVAC filter. We’ll also discuss why it’s critical to clean an HVAC filter. 

How To Clean An Hvac Filter

Why Is It Important to Clean an HVAC Filter

HVAC systems circulate air in your home. They rely on HVAC filters to catch and eliminate any dirt particles or contaminants that might be moving about in the air. When your HVAC filter is clogged, it puts more pressure on your HVAC system to work effectively.

As a result, keeping your HVAC filter clean is vital to the overall functionality of your HVAC system. It is one of the simplest things to do when it comes to HVAC system maintenance, but it is sometimes forgotten. Here are a few reasons why you should clean your HVAC filter.

Increased Efficiency 

Dirty HVAC filters can reduce airflow and lower the HVAC filter’s overall performance. Cleaning an HVAC filter will guarantee that your HVAC system runs adequately.

Prevents Pollutant Filtration

The primary function of an HVAC filter is to catch and remove contaminants such as pollen and dust, which can cause significant health issues.

A properly operating filter can prevent contaminants from circulating in the air, improving air quality. This is important if you want to avoid getting any respiratory infections. When you don’t clean your filter, these particles enter your airflow and contaminate it.

Keep Your Ductwork Clean

If you don’t want dirt or dust in your ductwork, you must keep your HVAC filter clean. Dirt in the ductwork can clog the entire HVAC system, causing problems. Or it could cause the HVAC system to stop running altogether. 

Increases the Life of the HVAC Filter

A dirty HVAC filter might shorten the life of the filter. This, in turn, will cause it to deteriorate faster. That’s why cleaning an HVAC filter regularly will reduce wear and strain on the filter—in turn, extending its lifespan.

Lowers Energy Costs

Dirty HVAC filters place additional strain on your HVAC system. To filter out the polluted air in your home, your HVAC system will have to work harder. The more your HVAC system is required to work, the higher your monthly electric bill will be. Cleaning your HVAC filters regularly will help you save at least 15% on your electric bill each year.

Improved Air Quality Indoor

Remember that the primary function of an HVAC filter is to circulate and clean the air in your home. This entails trapping and filtering out dirty particles such as bacteria. If your HVAC filter is dirty, it won’t be able to perform this. On the other hand, cleaning your HVAC filter may clean and circulate clean air in your home, leading to improved indoor air quality.

Lowers Repair Frequency

Cleaning your HVAC filter regularly can also help cut down on any unavoidable damages to your HVAC system. That means you can reduce the number of times you have to fix your HVAC system. You also save money that you would have spent on repairs otherwise. You’ll also lower the chances of having to replace an entire filter or HVAC system.

How to Clean an HVAC Filter

HVAC filters don’t require much maintenance. However, they should be cleaned regularly. Knowing how to clean an HVAC filter is an essential aspect of being on top of regular maintenance.

Nonetheless, how to clean an HVAC filter is considerably simpler than you might believe. Following these procedures is critical to ensuring that your HVAC filter is thoroughly cleaned.

Be mindful that not all HVAC filters can be cleaned. Cleaning is often advised for reusable or washable filters. For example, if your HVAC filter includes a cardboard frame or a “No cleaning sticker,” you should replace it instead. So, double-check the user manual for all specifications. 

Let’s start by diving into the steps for how to clean an HVAC filter. Remember that these steps may differ based on the type of HVAC filter you have. However, these are the general steps for cleaning most HVAC filters. 

1. Turn Off Your HVAC System

This is important because you don’t want it to turn on while you’re busy removing and reinserting the HVAC filter. It will also keep unfiltered air from re-entering your home.

2. Locate the HVAC Filter 

Locate your HVAC system’s service panel. The service panel is in charge of the lifts off where the filter is located. This will assist you in locating your HVAC filter.

The filter will be located between the ductwork and the furnace body in the service panel. In some HVAC systems, you’ll find the filter at the bottom of the HVAC service unit. 

If you need assistance with locating the HVAC filter of your system, you can call the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can check the user manual for a detailed breakdown of the design of the HVAC system. Most HVAC systems include simple instructions for locating the filter.

3. Remove the Filter Cartridge  

It is extremely simple to remove the HVAC filter after it has been located. You can access the HVAC filter in front of the service panel and remove it. Place it on the ground, upright. Check if the filter has any damage before proceeding to the next step. 

4. Vacuum the HVAC Filter

To clear the dust, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment. Vacuum across the filter to get rid of any stuck-on dirt.

5. Wash the HVAC Filter with Vinegar and Water 

Pour some warm water and equal amounts of vinegar into a bucket for a thorough cleaning. Put it in the bucket. Allow it to soak for at least an hour. Make sure the filter is completely submerged in water. If the bucket is too small, you can turn the filter halfway through the cleaning operation.


6. Rinse the HVAC Filter 

You will begin to observe dirt coming out of the filter. Scrubbing the filter may cause damage to the filter surface. Rinse the filter with another bucket of warm, clean water.

If the filter is too big to be submerged in the bucket, clean it with a watering hose. Spray in the opposite direction indicated by the arrows. Allow the water to pass through the filter until it is completely clear.

However, don’t use too much pressure, as this can damage the filter. You can also use your fingertips to remove any dirt that has gotten sucked into or left the filter. Finally, wipe away any remaining debris with a soft cloth.


7. Dry the HVAC Filter

Allow the filter to air-dry in the sunlight for a couple of hours before reinstalling it in the HVAC system. This reduces the likelihood of mold and mildew in your HVAC system.

Keep in mind that the drying time will vary based on the size and type of HVAC filter. For example, HVAC filters with numerous components typically take longer to dry.

8. Insert the HVAC Filter Back

After cleaning the HVAC filter, put it in your HVAC system. Keep an eye out for the arrows on the filter. 

Most filters include arrows on the side demonstrating the proper direction to reinsert the filter. Check that the way you reinserted the HVAC filter corresponds to the arrows on the filter.


9. Turn on the HVAC System

Congratulations, you’re finished. Close the service panel and turn on your HVAC system.

General Recommendations about How to Clean an HVAC Filter

Now that you know how to clean an HVAC filter, here are some general recommendations. These hints will make the cleaning process less intimidating. Essentially as HVAC industry experts, we hope this helps you avoid some common mistakes when learning how ot clean an HVAC filter.

Set a Cleaning Reminder

If you want to be on top of the cleaning of an HVAC filter, you can set reminders. Most HVAC filters come with a smart app that enables replacement and cleaning notifications. 

Plan Ahead 

For best results, plan ahead of time. Make sure you check what type of HVAC filter you own. You can do so by checking the manual. 

There are different types of HVAC filters. They all have unique features. Plus, they all come in different designs and sizes. 

It is essential to understand the type of HVAC filter you own because each has its own set of filter cleaning and maintenance guidelines. Some HVAC filters aren’t meant to be cleaned because they can cause irreversible damage. If your HVAC filter is washable, you can proceed with the cleaning process.

Sweep or Vacuum Pet Hair 

To avoid excessively clogging up your HVAC filter, sweep or vacuum any pet hair. This way, it will also reduce the dirt build-up in the filter, which will directly cut down on the cleaning time. 

Be Thorough

When thinking about how to clean an HVAC filter, ensure that you get every dirt particle out. Failing to do so will lead to dirt build-up. In the long run, it may affect the airflow and reduce the longevity and efficiency of the HVAC filter. 

HVAC System Routine Checks

Although it is essential to clean your HVAC filter regularly, routine maintenance of your HVAC system is equally crucial. Having your HVAC system serviced while cleaning an HVAC filter might be beneficial.

Like any other device, taking care of the HVAC system before anything goes wrong gives you an advantage. It can save you a lot of money in the long run. It also allows your HVAC filter to function at peak efficiency.


How to Clean an HVAC Filter Conclusion

How to clean an HVAC filter is an easy process. While it might seem easier to just avoid learning how to clean an HVAC filter, you may notice some immediate effects of dirty HVAC filters. 

You can take it out of the HVAC system. Once you do so, you can use a watering hose or dip it in a bucket of water and vinegar mixture. 

After that, it’s all clean. Cleaning your HVAC filter monthly is one of the ways to keep up with maintenance. Different HVAC filters vary in terms of cleaning procedures. You can speak to our experts or professionals to learn more about your HVAC filter specifications.

If you don’t have the time or want to clean an HVAC filter, you can hire a professional to do it for you. Let’s face it; you’d rather not spend hours cleaning an HVAC filter. That’s why hiring a professional to clean and maintain your HVAC filter is a good option.

Your filter will be cleaned regularly by an HVAC technician. They also do extra tasks such as repairing any faulty elements in your HVAC system or recommending replacements as needed.

Perhaps you are not comfortable or need assistance cleaning your HVAC filter. In that case, you can also contact our team of industry experts. Thanks for checking out how to clean an HVAC filter.

FAQ’s about How to Clean an HVAC Filter

How Often Should You Clean Your HVAC Filter?

Cleaning your HVAC isn’t an activity that needs to be done only once yearly. Instead, our experts recommend that you clean your HVAC filter every month. Of course, you might have to do it more often if you live in an area with high pollution. But overall, cleaning your HVAC filter will depend on your preference. 

What can happen if I don’t clean my HVAC Filter regularly?

HVAC filters have relatively simple functionality but can’t function optimally if they’re not clean—dirt will build up, which will clog the HVAC system. As a result, the HVAC system will be unable to effectively filter out dirty air and improve your home’s air quality. 

Is It Safe to Run an HVAC System Without a Filter?

No, it is not recommended you run an HVAC system without a filter. Running it without the HVAC filter will eventually lead to severe damage. It will also affect the air quality in your home. 

How Can I Tell if My HVAC Filter Is Washable?

Typically washable filters are very different from reusable filters. Reusable filters have a metal frame instead of the cardboard frame found in unwashable filters. You can also read the user manual to determine if your HVAC filter is washable. It will also include some specifications on how to clean the filter. 

What Kind of Filters Can Be Cleaned?

Besides washable filters, you can also clean electrostatic and electronic filters. For electrostatic filters, you can clean them every month or 90 days. It is recommended to check the user manual for the exact cleaning timeframe or specifications to avoid damaging the filter. 

Are There Any Side Effects to Using a Dirty HVAC Filter?

Yes, there are adverse effects to using a dirty HVAC filter. A dirty HVAC filter can cause health problems. For example, it can cause breathing complications and cough or sneezing. In severe cases, it can also lead to asthma. 

How Do I Know if My HVAC Filter Is Working Properly?

If you experience any breathing problems or coughing, that could signify that your HVAC filter is not working correctly. Check how you inserted the filter into your HVAC system after cleaning it. You can use a quality air monitor to check if your HVAC filter works effectively.  

How Often Can I Run My HVAC Filter?

It depends on the size of the room. For a larger area, you can run the HVAC filter for more extended periods. While for smaller rooms, it generally takes less time to filter out. It is best to run the filter at regular intervals so that any lingering pollutants do not accumulate. You can purchase an air quality monitor to check the level of clean air quality to determine how often or how long to keep it running.

Do HVAC Filters Make a Lot of Noise?

The loudness of an HVAC Filter depends on various factors such as the type and size of the filter. It is crucial to keep in mind that most filters are loud at the beginning when they start filtering out the dirty air. But as the air is filtered, the noise should decrease and naturally become quieter. Different filters are quieter than others. 

Can HVAC Filters Help People with Respiratory Issues Find Relief?

Yes, some HVAC filters can help people suffering from breathing complications. The primary function of an HVAC filter is to trap and filter clean air, improving your breathing. The amount of dirt they can filter depends on the type of filter and MERV rating.

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