Changing the Air Filter: So Basic, but Do You Know All You Should?

Published on: April 12, 2014
Air filter closeup | AC Southeast®

Changing the air filter in your forced-air cooling or heating system is simple, right? For most homeowners, this regular task is not difficult, but it can go wrong. Understanding how it can go wrong, and avoiding those mistakes, will help you get the most use out of your cooling and heating equipment.

How to Change the Filter

Changing the air filter is not difficult. To do so, simply:

  • Turn off the furnace, A/C or heat pump.
  • Remove the filter from the slot, usually near where the return duct enters the actual cooling or heating equipment.
  • Install a new filter that is compatible with your equipment, which usually means it’s the same as the old one, in the same direction as the old one.
  • Check for gaps around the frame, which indicate you have the wrong size.
  • Clean up residual dust.
  • Replace any gaskets, seals or levers.
  • Turn the unit back on.

When to Replace the Furnace Filter

In most homes, the air filter needs to be replaced at least every three months. This frequency increases if:

  • Your home is under construction or near a construction site.
  • You have a fireplace or are near wildfires.
  • Someone in your home has allergies or asthma.
  • You have pets or a large family.
  • The unit becomes damp in any way, which can lead to mold.
  • The filter is damaged.

Why You Need to Change It

Your air filter works by trapping tiny particles in its fibers. Over time, it becomes full of those particles, which reduces its effectiveness. If it’s allowed to become too full, it will restrict air flow, eventually leading to failure of your HVAC system and the need for costly repairs or even replacement. Replacing the filter to avoid this is far more affordable.

In addition, damp filters can harbor mold, which is then released into the air and degrades indoor air quality. Mold spores in the air can threaten your family’s health.

If you have further questions about air filters and how you can best protect your family, we can help you find a qualified local contractor for help in your Southeast U.S. community.