In this blog post, our experts at Self Heating & Cooling will walk you through the process of changing your HVAC system air filter.
There are small maintenance tasks that homeowners can do themselves – helping them save money and avoid unnecessary repairs.
One of these is a simple task that we recommend taking care of every 1-3 months: changing your home’s HVAC system air filter.
What You Need to Know About Changing an Air Filter
What is an air filter?
Air filters in furnace or heat pump HVAC systems are used to screen out large airborne particles that can clog the system.
They are disposable and biodegradable and can be purchased at any hardware store. They are usually available in multi-packs, but make sure you buy the correct size for your unit. Air filters are not universal in size.
Why should you change your air filter?
This is a simple and inexpensive task that, if ignored, could lead to problems with your system. A dirty filter can cause your system to run inefficiently by reducing or preventing air flow, causing the entire system to work even harder to warm or cool your house (depending on the season).
If your system is running inefficiently like this, it could cause the entire system to fail – meaning a costly repair or replacement.
Also, if your unit is in your basement, there is a possibility that a dirty air filter could be exposed to dampness.
Dampness can lead to mold growth and that mold could spread throughout your system.
That is why we recommend changing your air filters monthly, or once every 3 months.
How to change your air filter:
Before replacing the air filter, find where your system’s air filter is located. Check the owner’s manual if you are not sure. Once located, check the old filter for size specifications, but do not remove (especially if your system is still on).
A typical air filter size is 16x20x1. It is important to use the right filter for your unit.
You will find that most hardware stores sell air filters in multi-packs.
Once you have purchased your air filters, you are ready to begin.
- Turn off the unit (from the thermostat) before replacing the filter.
- Carefully remove the old filter. Clean up any residual dust.
- The air filters have an arrow on the side indicating the direction of air flow. When inserted, the arrow should point toward the furnace.
- Make sure there aren’t any gaps around the filter frame. If this is the case, you may have the wrong size filter, or the filter itself may be defective or damaged.
- Turn the unit on and observe it while it’s operating to make sure the filter stays in place.
- Note the date of filter replacement. You can write the date it was installed on the edge of the filter (with marker). You could even set up a monthly calendar reminder to check the air filter.
When you check on the air filter one month later, pay attention to any dust or dirt build up. If the air filter still looks clean, there is no need to replace. Check again in another month.
If you are more of a visual learner, watch this video for more information:
Call Self Heating & Cooling with Questions
This is a simple task that if done properly and regularly can help your system run efficiently and can save you money in the long-run.