A quality air filter is an important tool for reducing any dust and dirt circulating through your home. It also keeps particulates from building up on the inside of your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) unit. If your HVAC unit has a dirty filter, then it functions at a lower efficiency and uses more energy than a unit with a clean filter. When you routinely change your air filter you’re keeping your indoor air clean while helping your heating and cooling unit run at maximum efficiency.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can reduce the energy consumption of your HVAC system by 5 to 15 percent by routinely changing your air filter. Don’t worry if you’ve never changed an air filter before. It’s actually a pretty simple process. In fact, most filters can be changed in just a few easy steps.
Step 1: Safety First Safety comes first when performing any household chore. Always turn off your HVAC system before changing the filter to avoid the danger of any electrical accidents.
Step 2: Locate the Filter Find the filter near the return air duct. If you’re not sure where your filter may be located, then you might benefit from reading our article on “Furnace Filter Basics.”
Step 3: Open Panel & Remove Filter Most HVAC units have a panel that will slide or pop open and the filter should be behind this panel. (Of course, if the filter is visible, then there won’t be a panel to open.) Remove the filter from its slot, noting which direction the airflow arrows on the filter are pointing. Pull the filter out gently, taking care not to dislodge any clumps of dust or grime from the filter. Wipe out the filter area with a cloth to remove excess dust or dirt build-up.
Step 4: Insert New Filter Before sliding the new filter into place, double check to see which way the airflow arrows on the filter frame are facing. Be sure the arrows are pointing in the direction of the airflow. If a panel or grill has been removed, replace it after the filter is in place.
Reusable Air Filters If the unit has a reusable or washable filter, it needs to be removed and then rinsed clean. Vacuum larger dust clumps before rinsing. It may be easiest to wash the filter outside with a hose or fill a tub or large basin with water and thoroughly soak the filter until it’s clean. Allow the filter to dry completely before reinstalling, making sure to line up the airflow arrows correctly.
Shopping for Sizes The easiest way to determine the filter size is to look on the filter currently in use. The dimensions should be printed on the frame of the filter. It may read as 20″ x 20″ x 5″ or 14″ x 25″ x 1″ or another number combination of three measurements. A custom air filter may have non-standard measurements. Check the filter frame for size and maker information.
Importance of MERV Ratings The higher the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating number, the smaller the particles the filter will catch. A filter with a higher MERV rating typically costs more than one with a lower rating. However, it will remove more particulates and last longer. Many filter types need to be changed monthly, while other types can last several months. In any case, you can mark your calendar to help you stay on a regular replacement schedule. DiscountFilters.com customers can also sign up for an email filter change reminder.