When you schedule AC maintenance, you can expect your technician to change the filter, among other important tasks. However, your air conditioner only receives a professional tune-up once a year, while the recommended timeframe for changing the filter is once every one to three months. This means you must learn how to change an air conditioning filter yourself.
Feel free to ask your technician to show you how it’s done, or simply follow this guide.
Locate the Air Conditioning Filter
If you have never changed an air conditioning filter before, you may be wondering: Where is my ac filter located?
Well, in many systems, the filter is located in a return air duct near the air handler. You may have to open a metal panel labeled “filter” to gain access. In other cases, the filter is located on a metal panel behind your air conditioning unit. This panel may be secured with a screw or two.
If you struggle to locate the filter, check out your owners manual or ask your HVAC technician to show you where it is during your next service visit.
Determine if the Air Filter Needs Changing
Once you’ve located the air filter, you’ll want to remove it from the unit. It’s usually fairly easy to remove, and you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions if there is any doubt.
The next step is to determine if the air filter needs changing or simply cleaning. If the filter is just a bit dusty or has some debris on it, then you can use a vacuum cleaner to clean it or rinse it out with water. However, this is if the filter can be cleaned, as there are filters that cannot be cleaned.
If the filter is extremely dirty or worn out, you’ll want to replace it with a new one.
Buy the Right Replacement Filter
If your filter needs replacing, you need the correct filter model and size to fit the slot in your HVAC system. You can also upgrade the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) if you want. The higher this rating, the better the filter is at trapping airborne pollutants.
MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. A lower MERV means the filter traps fewer pollutants, while a higher number means it can trap more. For cleaner air in your home, opt for a MERV 11 or higher. Just be aware that MERV ratings above 10 could restrict airflow, so talk to an HVAC professional before purchasing a filter rated this high.
Keep in mind that there are different types of air filters. You may need to purchase a foam filter, pleated filter, or HEPA-type filter, depending on the type of HVAC system you have.
It’s important to know what type of filter you have and install the correct replacement. If you don’t, your system will run inefficiently, which can waste energy and cost you money.
Change the Air Filter
Follow these steps to swap out your old filter for a new one:
- Turn off the power: Before you get started, cut the power to the air conditioner at the main breaker panel. This is for your own safety and that of your AC unit.
- Remove the old filter: Slide the filter out of its slot or unscrew the attachments holding it in place.
- Check the filter: Does it appear clogged with dirt and dust? Hold it up, and if you can’t see much light filtering through, you know it’s time to replace it. On the other hand, if the filter looks like it still has some life left, feel free to reinstall it.
- Dispose of or clean the old filter: You are allowed to throw air filters away in the regular trash. If you have a reusable filter with a sturdy metal frame and cleanable surface, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean and dry the filter for reuse.
- Insert the new or cleaned filter: Ensuring the same orientation as the old filter, insert the new one into the filter slot. Use the arrow on the filter’s frame to show you what direction the air should flow to prevent you from putting it in backward.
Have questions about replacing your air filter? Ready to schedule annual AC maintenance? Meadow Air can handle all your home cooling needs. We are an experienced HVAC company serving Buckeye, Maricopa County, and the entire West Valley area. Trust our team of licensed, certified professionals to keep your Arizona home cool and comfortable all summer long. Call us at (602) 812-0648 or contact us online to schedule AC service today!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Change the Filter?
The best way to know when it’s time to swap out your air conditioning filter is to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. Generally, you’ll want to do this every 1-3 months.
If you have more than one pet or if you or someone else in your home has breathing issues, you need to swap out your filter every month. If you don’t have a pet or anyone in your home with breathing issues, you can get away with changing it every 3 months.
Can I Use Any Type of Filter?
Air filters come in various types, and while some will work well with your air conditioner, others won’t. Don’t chance it. Call a professional if you’re unsure about whether or not your air filter will fit properly or work properly for your system.
What Are Some Signs My Air Filter Needs Replacing?
One of the most obvious signs that your air filter needs replacing is if you notice a decrease in airflow. If you feel like your AC isn’t as effective as it used to be, there’s a good chance this is because your filter needs changing.
Another sign that your air filter needs replacing is if you notice a musty odor in your home. This is often due to mold, mildew, and other types of fungus growing on the air filter, which can cause health problems for you and your family.
Other signs that your air filter needs changing include: a drop in energy efficiency, increased noise from your unit, and a drop in cooling efficiency
Where Can I Buy an Air Filter?
Air filters are available at most hardware stores and home improvement centers. You can also find them online, often for a cheaper price than you’d pay in stores. If you’re looking for a specific size or type of filter, it’s best to shop around to ensure you find the right one for your needs.
How Much Do Air Filters Cost?
Air filters can range in price from a few dollars to more than $200. You should be able to find a filter that fits your budget, but the higher-quality filters will cost more. It’s important to consider how long you plan on using the filter and if it’s worth spending extra for a better product.
What Kind of Air Filters Are There?
There are many different types of air filters, each with its own unique purpose. The most common types of filters are:
Washable filters: These are the most common type of filter. They can be washed and reused multiple times, making them more cost-effective than disposable ones. These filters should be cleaned every 3-6 months or as needed to prevent dirt from building up and affecting performance.
Disposable filters: Disposable filters are usually made from paper or foam materials that cannot be cleaned and need to be replaced after each use. They are more convenient than washable filters as they don’t require any maintenance and can simply be thrown away. However, they are more expensive and less environmentally friendly.
Why Is Replacing My Air Conditioning Filter Important?
Air conditioning filters play a vital role in keeping your home cool and comfortable. If the filter is dirty, it will not be able to remove impurities from the air effectively. This can lead to problems like reduced airflow, higher energy consumption, and excessive noise due to clogged or damaged components. But most importantly, a dirty filter can cause health problems such as allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.
Can an AC Run Without a Filter?
Yes, an AC can run without a filter, but it’s not recommended.
Air conditioners are designed to filter the air that passes through them and remove dust particles and other contaminants. If your AC doesn’t have a filter, it won’t be able to filter the air as effectively, and this can lead to air quality problems in your home, which in turn can cause health problems.
How Long Can You Run an AC Without a Filter?
If you have to run your air conditioner without a filter, do it for no more than 8 hours. If you run it for more than this amount of time, you’re not just going to have air quality problems, but you’re also going to have problems with your AC unit.
AC units are designed to be used with a filter, and if you don’t have one in place, this can severely damage your AC unit. Something you would want to avoid since AC units can be expensive to replace.