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How To Change Your AC Filter & Common Mistakes

November 19, 2019 | Blog

You should be changing your AC filter every couple of months. If you don’t change your air filters regularly, they will eventually start failing, which lets dust and other contaminants into your home and could ruin the performance of your HVAC system. Here are a few tips on successfully changing out your AC/furnace filter.

Step 1: AC vs. Furnace

First things first: let’s talk about the name. Though it seems like they would be two different filters, they’re actually the same thing. This is why it’s important to change your air filter year-round, as the air filter is working just as hard during the colder months.

Step 2: Locate the Air Filter

If your HVAC system is in the wall, the air filter is typically located between the return duct and the HVAC unit itself. Take the cover off, and slide it out. If your system is in your attic, the filter is probably located in a vent in your ceiling. Open up the vent, and you should be able to easily remove the air filter.

Step 3: Check Your Filter Size & MERV Rating

It’s important to have the right measurements for your new air filter. Pull out your old filter to take note of the dimensions – they should be labeled on the edge. You’ll also want to check the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating. Basically, the MERV rating tells you how good your air filter is at doing its job on a scale of 1 to 16. Check out your owner’s manual to see what kind of MERV rating your AC unit can handle. Or, if you can’t find it, you can always call an HVAC technician to inspect your unit and make a recommendation. (Extremely high MERV ratings are only needed in hospitals and other health-sensitive buildings.)

Using the incorrect air filter size

Installing a filter that is too small is almost like not using a filter at all. A small filter leaves gaps around the air vent, allowing harmful air particles to pass through your AC.

Step 4: Face It The Right Way

You want to be sure your new filter is facing the right way – because there is a wrong way to do it. To do this, you need to know which direction your air flows. Air flows from the return duct into the main unit. So, if your return duct is on the right, your air flows to the left. There should be an arrow located along the edge of your new filter. That arrow needs to be facing the same direction as your HVAC’s airflow.

Putting the air filter in backward

All air filters have one side that is more porous than the other. The porous side allows the filter to trap airborne particles without restricting airflow through your AC. If you put the filter in backward, air will have a harder time getting into your AC and the unit will be forced to work more to make up for the lack of airflow.

This simple mistake can lead to higher energy bills and an inefficient AC system. To avoid this, always look for the printed arrows on the side of the filter to show you the correct way to install it.

Forgetting to replace dirty filters

Dirty air filters can affect your health and the health of your HVAC system. Clogged filters prevent filtered air from entering the vents. When this happens, your HVAC system’s blower fans have to work harder to circulate air. This will eventually cause your entire system to shut down and could lead to costly repair bills.

To avoid unclean air, unnecessary strain on your HVAC system and higher utility bills, always remember to change out your HVAC filters before they turn grey. Most filters need to be replaced every one to two months. However, if you use higher-efficiency filters, they can last up to three months.

If you are experiencing problems and are in need of maintenance or if you have any questions about air filters, contact Express Air today to speak with one of our experienced HVAC specialists.

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