You Need to Replace Your AC Filter—Do You Know How?
Air filters quickly become clogged with debris, especially in the cooling season when air conditioners are running around the clock. Fail to change out your filter can mean that you’ll be facing a repair, higher energy bills, and decreased lifespan from the AC. In other words, replacing your AC filter is one of the easiest ways to ensure optimal system performance year after year.
The good news is that swapping out your air conditioner filter is a simple task—if you know what you’re doing.
How to Replace Your AC Filter: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide
In many homes, the air filter is located near the thermostat. So, the first step is to locate the filter. Go to your thermostat, and look for a vent. If you can’t find a return vent with the filter located close by, look at the air conditioning unit. Some models house the air filter closer to the system, rather than at the return air grille.
Here are the next steps, once you’ve located the filter:
- Loosen the fasteners holding the front of the grille to the vent, and gently remove the cover. Set it aside. The air filter should be located directly behind the cover.
- Simply reach in and pull it out.
- Set the filter to the side, and assess its condition. A dirty filter will usually be a dingy, greyish-brown color when it has passed its prime. If it still looks whitish, there may be some life left in it.
- If the filter is dirty, grab the new air filter.
- Identify the arrow pattern on the edge of the filter. The direction of the arrows is important to ensure proper airflow. The arrows should not point out or at you. If they do, airflow will be restricted.
- Once you find the arrows, position them so that they are facing the wall.
- Place the air filter back into the return duct opening, gently easing the bottom portion of the filter in first and then the top.
- Double check that the arrows are pointing toward the duct.
- Give the filter a gentle pat to ensure that it fits snugly into the opening.
- Put the cover back on.
- Tighten the fasteners.
Now, the job of changing the air filter is complete. Replacing a clogged or dirty filter can help your home feel more comfortable because air is flowing freely through your system.
If you’re still having comfort or humidity issues after replacing your AC filter, consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier.
What’s the Best Type of Filter to Use?
Not all filters are the same. In fact, there is a range of different filter types and efficiencies available. The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) is a rating that tells you how efficient a particular filter is at cleaning air. Residential air filters usually have a MERV between 1 and 12, with higher numbers indicating filters are more efficient at removing dust, particles, and bacteria from the air.
Here’s a general breakdown of the different categories of MERV ratings for home air filters and what they mean:
- 1 to 4 means minimal filtration, with less than 20% of air particulates being removed.
- 5 to 8 offers better filtration, removing between 20 and 35% of air particulates.
- 9 to 12 offers the best filtration, removing at least 50% and potentially more than 90% of air particulates.
The best air filter for your home will depend on the type of HVAC system you have, as well as your needs (especially if anyone in your home has health issues that require your home’s air to be as clean as possible).
If you aren’t sure what type of air filter is best for your system, contact an HVAC professional. There can be risks associated with installing a filter that’s not designed for your HVAC system. You can also check the owner’s guide, as the manufacturer will outline the range of filter efficiency ratings that are ideal to use with the system.
How Often Should You Replace the Air Filter?
For most homeowners, it’s helpful to change the filter every three months or so. You should change it more frequently if:
- You have pets that shed.
- Your home sees a lot of traffic.
- You’re remodeling your home
- Anyone in your home suffers from allergies.
- Your home gets especially dusty for any reason.
It’s also a good idea to check your filter every month, changing it out when it appears dirty, when the summer season really heats up and you’re using your AC more frequently.
If you’d like an HVAC expert from Jacob Heating & Air Conditioning to walk you through changing your air filter, or if it’s time to schedule air conditioning maintenance or repairs, give us a call at (386) 337-3502 or simply contact us online today!