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How to Install an Air Filter: A Guide for Homeowners

December 24, 2022

Did you know that you need to replace your home air filters every 1 to 6 months depending on the type? Of course, you'll need to change them more frequently if you have pets or allergies.

It's important to know how to install an air filter to improve your home's air quality. This is an easy part of any home maintenance routine and helps prevent damage to your HVAC system.

The following guide will explore air filter installation tips that apply to common air filter options. Read on to keep your home's air clean and avoid costly HVAC repairs.

Locating the Filter

Most home HVAC systems use a standard 1" or 2" pleated air filter. They come in many sizes, including custom options to accommodate a variety of systems. Pleated filters also have different levels of protection against allergens.

To replace them, you first need to locate your existing filters. You might find your filters in the wall or ceiling if you have return vents.

Other times, filters are found in the HVAC system's main unit. Take a look in your basement, closets, attic, or crawlspace to find the main unit.

Accessing the Filter

Before you access the filter, make sure you shut off your unit. Doing so will prevent particles and dust from entering your system during the replacement.

Open up the panel on the air return vent by prying back the tiny metal levers. The levers keep the grill closed and usually sit on the panel's top or side of the panel. The placement of the levers depends on where the panel is in the room.

Make sure to have a small flathead screwdriver on hand. Use it to help unlock the levers if they’re closed too tightly and hard to open.

If your filter is located on the HVAC unit, it's most likely close to the unit's air supply. You'll see your filter inside once opening up the unit.

Removing the Previous Filter

To remove the old filter, simply lift it out or slide it out. Pay attention to the direction that the arrows on the filter are pointing and make a note.

Expect your old filter to get covered in a lot of dust depending on how old it is. Be careful and try to avoid breathing in any debris from the filter. Have a trash bag or plastic bag on hand so that you can properly dispose of the filter.

Installing the New Filter

Make sure the arrows on your new filter point in the exact direction as the last filter had them aligned. The arrows should point toward the ductwork of the units or the unit's blower.

Never push the air filter into place harder than necessary. You want it to have a tight fit, but using too much force might cause bending or creasing.

To finish the installation, replace the grill and lock each of the levers back in place. For filters inside the unit, simply close and lock the filter slot.

Finally, turn your HVAC system back on, observe how it runs, and note any issues. You might need to adjust the placement of your filter if you hear any rattling or other strange noises.

Starting a Routine

Get in the habit of changing your filters regularly by keeping a monthly reminder set on your phone or written on a calendar. Depending on the manufacturer of your filter, they might have an app that tracks its lifespan and sends reminders.

Changing the filter regularly prevents clogs and prevents your HVAC system from overworking. Because your system uses less energy with a fresh filter, you'll save energy and potentially lower your bill.

Window and RV Filters

Window air conditioner units and RV air conditioners also need replacements now and then. The process is very straightforward and you can even wash some filters to extend their lives.

First, turn the unit off completely to avoid injury, and open the front cover to locate your filter. Some modern ACs might have filters that slide out of the side of the unit.

Remove the air filter from the unit and vacuum out any dust that you see on it. Next, wash out the filter using warm water with soap in it and then let it dry out completely.

You can wash your filter several times, but eventually, it will become too brittle or too dirty to use. That's when you'll know that it's time to buy a new air filter for your window or RV unit.

Additional Benefits

Keeping your air filter clean can help reduce airborne illnesses in your home. So, it's especially important to replace your filters often if you have children living in your home.

Replacing your filter regularly also ensures that your home smells fresh by removing particles with strong odors. Pet owners and smokers can especially benefit from this air filter feature.

Those suffering from asthma can greatly benefit from the improved air quality that filters provide and limit asthma attacks. Even if you don't have asthma, filters help reduce eye, nose, and throat irritations.

New and clean filters make it easier to breathe and therefore make it easier to get a good night's sleep. They also help control the climate in your home because your HVAC system runs more efficiently with a clean filter.

Finally, changing your air filter often helps cut down on the amount of housekeeping you do. Your surfaces and furniture will accumulate less dust if you switch out your filters on schedule.

Understanding How To Install an Air Filter

Now you know how to install an air filter for the most common types of HVAC units. The process is easy and filters of all varieties tend to be very affordable.

Remember this guide and keep the air in your home fresh and your HVAC system healthy. If you need custom filter sizing or have more questions, please contact us at Filter Time for professional assistance.

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