How does a HVAC filter work?

How to Change a Furnace Filter

I’ve written before about how my sons aren’t the handiest of men on this planet. Sure, they try sometimes, but they’re much more likely to hire someone to do a job for them than I am. Last week my youngest, he’s 27, called me and asked if I knew how to change a HVAC filter. I was a little surprised he didn’t already know how. It’s not rocket science—not even complicated. Some good-natured ribbing followed.

Replace Home Air FilterI realized there are probably a lot of people who have rented apartments their whole life and don’t know how to do very simple maintenance like changing out a filter, so I thought I better tell the world.

When to Change Your Filter

If you’re the one replacing the filter, knowing when to change it is simple. Write the date on the edge of the actual filter. That way you keep track of how long the filter has been in there. It’s good to change your filter every three months, but you can change it more often. I change mine every three months and check it every month. If it looks too dirty at two months, I might change it, especially if it’s close to allergy season.

Why to Change Your Filter

The obvious reason you should change your furnace filter is so that you’re breathing better quality air. Filters take out impurities in the air making that air better for you to breathe, but that’s not all it does. Here are a few other things changing your filter does:

  • Extends the life of your HVAC unit
  • Keeps energy costs down
  • Keeps your HVAC unit clean

The Steps of Changing Your Filter

If you look around on the Internet, you’ll find tons of videos on how to change a furnace filter. If you don’t want to watch the video, I have listed the steps below.

  1. Buy a New Filter

    You can either look on the old ones for the filter dimensions, which is easiest, or you can dig out your HVAC’s manual.

  1. Turn Off the Unit

    Never replace the filter with the system running. If you don’t know how to turn the system off, kill the power at the circuit breaker.

  1. Remove the Old Filter

    Sometimes you’ll have to remove a door or panel on the outside of the unit, but sometimes there is no door or panel and you can just pull out the old HVAC filter.

  1. Insert the New Filter

    Once the old filter is out of the unit, replace it with the new one. When inserting the new filter into the system make sure the filter is facing the right way. There should be arrows on the filter making it relatively straightforward.

  1. Turn the System On

    After you have installed the new filter don’t forget to turn the HVAC unit back on.

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