Air Filter Maintenance: A Beginner's Guide

Air Filter Maintenance: A Beginner’s Guide

Do you live in a place that requires air conditioning during those hot summer months? Are you uncertain how to keep up with your HVAC’s air filter maintenance?

The air filter is one of the most important aspects of any HVAC unit. It’s the first defense towards unwanted particles and it’s often the reason your HVAC loses airflow.

Knowing how to take care of your air filter is a great asset to any homeowner. Keep reading to learn all about our top maintenance tips for air filters down below!


MERV is an important thing to keep in mind whenever you take a look at any filter. It stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, but it’s essentially the official rating a filter gets depending on how many particles it’s capable of filtering. A higher number means that smaller particles won’t make their way through the filter.

Most HVAC units come with a recommended MERV rating, and it’s best to follow that number. You’ll often have no problem going up a step or two with your MERV rating if you’re wanting a stronger result.

However, if you go too high, your HVAC unit might struggle to push the air past the filter. It’s best to stick as close to your original MERV rating as possible. When in doubt, contact a professional HVAC company and get their opinion.

Frequent Inspections

One of the top air filter maintenance tips is to check your filter on a regular basis. At least once a month is a good standard, but this depends on how often you run your unit. If you plan to run it throughout the entire day for several months, it may need a check-up even sooner.

A little bit of dust and grime on the filter isn’t a cause for concern. That means that the filter’s working. But is still up for the job?

Once the filter starts to turn a different color, it’s time to clean or replace it for the best results. Don’t worry about changing a filter too early. It’s better to change it too early than too late.

You might have trouble recognizing the filter’s life span at first, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough!

Choose the Right Size

The size of your filter is a key aspect to keep in mind. A filter that’s too big is easy to notice because it won’t fit into the right spot.

When the filter’s too small, it’ll often fit into place but have room to wiggle around. This presents a whole mess of problems.

A small filter disrupts the flow of the unit, causing your HVAC to work overtime to push the air through the edges of the filter. Plus, the filter isn’t as efficient at trapping particles because those particles find their way around the gaps created by the small size.

To know the size of your filter, check on the sides. The dimensions are printed on the side so that you’re able to reference them without any problems. Always choose the correct filter size so that your unit functions at peak performance!

Tip: If you have the correct size, but there’s a tiny amount of wiggle room around your filter, consider using filter gasket tape to create a tight seal for your filter.

Disposable or Reusable

When you consider HVAC air filter maintenance, you’ll want to think about which type of filter you prefer. Disposable filters are easier to deal with and you only need to worry about purchasing new ones. The problem is that they’ll increase the budget of keeping your HVAC running.

Reusable filters are a cheaper alternative, in the long run, but they require more work to maintain. You’ll need to clean the filter before returning it to the unit, which is an extra chore many homeowners don’t want to add to their list.

It’s okay to switch the filter types around once you realize you prefer one over the other. As long as the MERV rating and size are correct, any type of filter works wonders in your HVAC.

Gentle Wash

If you do use a reusable filter, you’ll need to know how to clean it before returning it to the HVAC unit. The easiest and most efficient way to clean a filter is to take it outside and use a garden hose to spray away the grime.

You need to make sure the water is set to a gentle flow. If the water hits the filter with too much force, it’ll cause damage to the intricate fibers that trap the particles. You’ll lower the MERV rating of your filter by being too rough with it.

Let the filter dry completely before putting it back into the unit.

Follow the Arrows

Knowing how to maintain home air filters isn’t only about the cleaning and replacing of the filters. It’s also about knowing the right way to install them into the HVAC system.

If you end up installing a filter backward, it’ll disrupt the airflow and won’t provide good results.

This is why you’ll need to look for arrows printed on the side of the filter. When you go to install the filter, make sure those arrows are pointed in the same direction as the airflow. This ensures that the filter captures those tiny particles without harming the unit.

Tip: If you’re unsure which way the air flows in your system, remember that the arrow will face towards the HVAC unit nearby. If you have a filter located in an air intake vent (usually on a ceiling or wall) then face the arrows toward the ceiling or wall.

Test the Unit

As with any kind of maintenance, changing an air filter means you’ll want to test the HVAC afterward. Turn on the unit and pay close attention to any weird sounds or reactions. Check to make sure that the airflow is at the right strength and isn’t blocked.

If everything seems good, then you’re ready to enjoy the comfort of your HVAC system again. If there’s a problem, it’s a good idea to contact your local maintenance company for a check-up!

Keep Your Air Clean With Regular Air Filter Maintenance

Without air filter maintenance, your home won’t have the quality of air that you and your family deserve. In addition to that, a clogged air filter causes your HVAC unit to work extra hard to cycle the air within your home. This lowers its life expectancy and can cause damage that requires repairs in the future.

The best thing you can do for your home and your HVAC is to check on the filter at least once a month!

Looking for high-quality filters for a reasonable price? Check out our American-made air filters!

4 thoughts on “Air Filter Maintenance: A Beginner’s Guide”

  1. I am searching for a filter for my new air conditioner. Envirowise Indoor Air Filter-FLRQB5FR21M11-20.2 x 26 x4.7. I am unable to find a filter with these specific measurements or #. Can yu assist me?

    • Hi Tamara! These sound like actual dimensions. Most filters advertise the nominal dimensions. For example, a nominal filter size at 20x25x1 may have actual dimensions of 19.5×24.5x.75. If you’ve tried 20x26x5 filters and they haven’t worked, give us a call at 1-866-407-5688. We can help you find the right size, or create custom-sized filters just for you. Hope this helps!

  2. Discount Filters is “The Best”
    I have never had BETER Customer Service than with this Company.
    I love the way they treated me and would Never buy filters from any other place “EVER”

  3. The change of the seasons is a great time to change your home’s HVAC air filter. It’s recommended that homeowners change their air filter every one to three months depending on the amount of dust and grime in their air.

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