One question homeowners ask is how to install an HVAC filter. This question is no surprise as it is one of the essential components of the HVAC system. If this part of your system is damaged, it’s normal to seek ways to make the filter function perfectly. Here, we discuss how to change an HVAC filter efficiently.
Start by turning off the HVAC system, then removing the new filter from its packaging. Next, unhook the grille cover and clean its slats until no debris or dust is left. Finally, insert the new filter, cover the grill and turn the system on. Note that your new filter must match the old one and be a perfect fit.
Why Should I Learn How to Install an HVAC Filter?
Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that their filters are everlasting. You might be lucky to get an excellent filter in your HVAC system, which will last a while. Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change these devices when the time’s right.
If you’re wondering why you should learn how to replace an HVAC air filter, here’s why:
Clean Systems Have a Longer Lifespan
Filters collect dirt over time, particularly during the summer and winter when your heating and cooling systems work harder. Filters clog due to dirt buildup. When air can’t travel through readily, the system has to overwork, which causes overheating.
Overheating can cause significant damage, and in some cases, you’ll have to change the entire unit. In addition, clogged filters can cause dirt to accumulate in other system parts, resulting in pollution and unnecessary maintenance.
Lower Your Energy Costs
Remember how we talked about how a clogged filter makes your system overwork? When this happens, the system consumes more energy resulting in high electricity costs.
It’s already known that heating and cooling account for about half of the average home’s utility expenses. So, if you replace your air filter regularly, the fan motor will not have to work as hard. Therefore, you’ll save a lot of money on energy expenditures.
Eye irritation, sneezing, disorientation, and respiratory issues can result from poor indoor air quality. Such air quality also substantially impacts those with respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies. People that react to such are also affected by dander if they have pets in their homes.
Changing your furnace’s air filter ensures that dust, filth, mold spores, and soot are not accumulating in the air.
Replacing your furnace filter is also an inexpensive method to clean your indoor air and avoid costly heating system maintenance. Therefore, learning how to install an HVAC filter becomes necessary.
How to Install an HVAC Filter Without Experience
If you’ve never learned how to install an HVAC filter, you might think it’s a daunting process. But, in reality, it takes only a few steps to complete the process. As long as you can follow the HVAC replacement guide, you’ll be done in a few minutes.
Below is a step-by-step process of how to change an HVAC filter:
- Turn the HVAC System Off
It’s compulsory to turn off the HVAC system before installing it. Even the HVAC filter replacement guide that comes in the user manual will specify this. This step is a safety precaution to take to avoid unforeseen circumstances.
- Remove the Filter From the Packaging
Please take out the replacement you purchased and look through it to ensure it’s not damaged. Most times, it’s a good idea to do this at the store where you bought the filter.
- Unscrew the Grille Cover
Remove the grill cover to get easy access to your filter.
- Clean the Slats
Clean the slats with a microfiber cloth or if the grille itself is dusty and covered with air particulates.
- Replace the Old and Used Filter With the New One
Make sure the new filter is positioned correctly before inserting it. Every filter includes a set of colors or arrows that indicate how it should be installed. The arrow must point toward the furnace and away from the return duct that draws in heated or cooled air.
During changes, it’s good to use a marker to write the date anywhere on its cover. This date stamp helps track how long it’s been since you last changed it.
- Secure the Grille Cover Again
Place the cover grille back in its original position and close the latch once the filter is securely in place.
- Turn the HVAC System Back On
Turn on the system when you’ve finished changing the filter.
This step is for HVAC systems with air return ducts, which are the most typical in American houses.
The steps for replacing the air filter are slightly different if you have an air conditioner or an air handler. However, the other procedures are also easy to learn.
Below are steps on installing an HVAC filter if you have an AC unit or an Air Handler.
How to Change an HVAC Filter In an Air Handler Cabinet
Follow these steps to proceed:
1. Remove the Door and Thoroughly Clean the Area
2. Check which kind of filter you’re taking out. If it’s a disposable one, replace it with the new one; If it’s a reusable one, clean it carefully. Remove all the dirt and lint particles from the surface using the soft brush attachment in your vacuum.
3. Pour some water over the filter in the opposite direction of the airflow
4. Once it’s dry, you can replace it
5. Be careful, do not turn the unit on until you are sure the filter has thoroughly dried
How to Replace an HVAC Filter In a Window AC Unit
Follow these steps to proceed:
1. Turn the AC unit off and unplug it
2. Remove the front cover and give it a thorough cleaning
3. Take the filter out, take it to the backyard or another open area and start shaking it to remove as much dirt and dust as possible.
4. Using only soapy water, give it a light rinse, and then wash the soap away
5. Let it dry completely before putting it back in its place
6. Once it has thoroughly dried, you can install it back on and secure the front cover
7. Plug it back in and turn the AC unit on
Sometimes, you might run into issues like the unit not turning back on. The unit might be emitting funny noises in some cases, or the fan stops spinning fast enough. Once you notice this, don’t panic. It’s probably a minor issue.
The best step is to call a technician to inspect the unit. It’s best not to try to fix this problem on your own.
Where to Find the HVAC Filter In the HVAC System
Learning how to replace an HVAC filter is one step to improving your air quality. But, here comes the tricky part – finding the air filter. Some filters are easy to find, while others are more hidden and difficult to find.
Here are places to find your filter depending on your unit:
Horizontal HVAC Units
Attics, huge basements, and garages are common to find horizontal units. As a result, the slot for the filter is often found on the unit’s air return side.
Vertical HVAC Units
Often these systems are found in cramped basements or crawl spaces. The filter usually slips into a slot above or below the HVAC unit.
To find the air filter in any other system, check for a return air grille on the wall or ceiling or a door to the utility closet.
Remember that some HVAC systems include a return vent in each room. So, there may possibly be an air filter located behind those return grilles.
It’s like a scavenger hunt to locate your air return ducts. However, it is worthwhile to stroll around your entire house, looking in every direction. Make a point of looking behind doors and other concealed areas to ensure you don’t miss one.
How Often to Change an HVAC Filter
Most air filter manufacturers and HVAC firms recommend changing your air filter every 90 days or three months. This timing varies depending on where you live. For example, if you live in dusty, dry areas or have several pets, you must change frequently.
You should change your filter every 60 days or two months if you have pets. However, if you have several pets or persons with allergies or respiratory disorders, you should change your filter every 20-45 days.
Filters can usually be replaced every 9-12 months in vacation homes or vacant homes that don’t get much use. So the more you use your home, the more frequently you should change your air filter and vice versa.
Determine the HVAC Filter Right Size
Before you learn how to install an HVAC filter, you should know how to check for its size. If you hit the store in search of a filter replacement, you’ll discover there are several sizes. Therefore, it’s essential to know which filter is the best fit.
One of the best ways to know the size of your air filter is to take its measurement. With this, you know what you’re looking for when you get to the store.
The air filter’s dimensions are usually printed on the frame’s edge. These numbers you’ll need when you buy the replacement at the store.
However, these bold rounded numbers are the nearest approximate figures of the filter’s actual size. Therefore, these are not the exact figures indicating the filter’s size.
Look closely; the actual dimensions should be written next to the nominal dimensions in smaller print. For example, an air filter may be 14.75×18.75×0.75 in actual size if the nominal size is 15x19x1.
If you get a filter that’s too small, you’ll have a large gaping hole at the top. On the other hand, a filter that’s too big will stick out. Getting the right size would be perfect to avoid these scenarios.
Essential Tips to Note When Learning How to Replace an HVAC Filter
Below are a few tips you should note before replacing the filter. Once you understand these essential tips, learning how to install an HVAC filter becomes a piece of cake.
Changing the air filtration in your home’s HVAC system is a straightforward job that shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes. However, depending on the equipment you have, the procedure may differ. So, first, determine the type of unit you have and proceed from there.
Another point worth considering is that air filters come in various sizes. It ranges from 12 to 14 inches in width and 12 to 36 inches in length. As mentioned earlier, before you begin, double-check that you have the correct one for your system.
When learning how to install an HVAC filter, you should also consider the quality of the air filters. They are graded from one to ten, indicating how well they filter particles from the air.
The best type of filter is usually rated between 8 and 10. Such rating implies the filter can effectively remove microscopic and large particles, smells, smoke, pollution, and other irritants.
One final tip is that air filters are made with different materials. While some might be effective in removing large particles, others might be better removers of small particles. Always purchase the most efficient filter for your system; it’ll save you money in the long run.
Once you’ve purchased the right filter and have all the tools, you can learn how to install an HVAC filter. Thankfully, we have provided all the steps you need to replace the air filters in your unit. Follow the processes to get it done in a few minutes.
Learning how to replace an HVAC filter is a very straightforward process. This HVAC filter replacement guide has all you need to get started. Once you’ve gotten your new filter, you can easily replace the old one and have your HVAC unit restored.
Aside from learning how to change an HVAC filter, don’t forget to note some essential tips. One of them is getting the correct filter size.
- What is an HVAC filter?
The air filters in your HVAC system play a crucial role in maintaining the air quality inside your home. Air filters also help the entire system run smoothly by removing the particles that would have blocked the ducts. In addition, they will filter out dangerous allergens, smoke, smog, and other foul odors. Most of them are disposable and biodegradable.
- Why should I replace the HVAC filter?
Replacing your air filters is of utmost importance for several reasons. Doing so could save you a lot of money and health-related consequences. If the building’s HVAC system is located in the basement, the filter could become damp, leading to mold growth.
- Where is my HVAC filter located?
The location would depend on what type of HVAC system you have installed in your home. However, the two most common locations are, on the blower compartment, inside the filter case of the furnace or AC unit. Behind the return grille located in the ceiling or wall.
- What size HVAC filter should I use?
If you aren’t sure about the air filter size your system uses, remove the one you have and check its measurements. You can also take it to the store and use it as a reference. Taking the proper measurements will aid you in getting a suitable replacement for your air filter.
- How often should I replace my building’s HVAC filter?
Most of the standard air filter models in the market will require you to replace them every three months. However, some factors will shorten that period. For example, if your HVAC system runs 24/7, you must replace the filter every month.
- Which way should the HVAC filter face?
To ensure the air filter works appropriately, it needs to face the right way. So even though both sides will look the same to you, that doesn’t mean you can use it either way. Nowadays, all air filters come with colored indicators to show you how they should go.
- What happens if I put the HVAC filter in the wrong direction?
Many homeowners are unaware that placing the air filter in the wrong direction will significantly reduce the airflow. This incorrect placement causes your system to work harder, thus increasing your electricity bill. Facing it in the wrong direction could also make the unit stops functioning.
- How can I tell I need to change the HVAC filter?
Most units come with manuals that indicate how often you should change the filters. However, if you feel your home is dustier than usual, you should consider replacing it immediately. Also, change if you notice that the unit isn’t functioning as it used to.
- Can I use my HVAC system without an HVAC filter?
While HVAC systems are built to function without air filters, you definitely should not, under any circumstances, use them without one. Air filters are in place to make your home air healthier. If they’re absent, It will create condensation problems and significantly lower the air quality.
- Should I always use high-quality HVAC filters?
That would depend on the type of HVAC system you owned and the manufacturer’s restrictions. Some of those systems were designed to use lower-quality air filters. Always check the owner’s manual to know the best filters to use.