Changing Your Home Air Filter Is Easy To Do and May Prevent Costly Future Repairs

Changing your air conditioning system’s air filter is a maintenance task that is easily forgotten. Though, this quick fix is an important part of keeping your system running smoothly and should be done regularly – every three months or at the beginning of each season. Whether your filter is a true pleated (collapsible) style or a self-contained cardboard framed filter, replacing it can usually be done in less than 20 minutes and extend the life of your system, improve comfort, and increase efficiency. In the case that your thermostat doesn’t have a filter display alert option, simply set up a reminder in your smartphone or computer calendar with what filter to buy every 90 days or so.

With all the talk about air pollution and global climate change, it’s often forgotten that the United States Environmental Protection Agency identifies one of the top five environmental health risks as Indoor air pollution. Regularly replacing your air filter helps to lower this risk by reducing, or even eliminating indoor air pollutants. These include pollen, dust, dander, smoke, pesticides and cleaning products, and even particles and gas generated from cooking stoves.

As we near the transition from summer to fall, consider these few things when maintaining your system:

  1. Looks Can Be Deceiving – Upon initial inspection of your filter, you may notice that it appears to be clean. Although the outside may look this way, there could be dust and dirt particles lodged on the inside. Leaving a filter in for too long can decrease efficiency and even harm the system. A quick inspection of the inside, as well as a comparison of your current filter to a new one could help in making the decision whether a replacement is necessary or not.
  1. 20 Minutes or Less – Changing your home air filter is not a daunting task. By following the instructions that came with the system itself, or the ones usually provided with the replacement filter, replacing the filter shouldn’t take any more than 20 minutes. However, if you find that the task becomes too complicated, call your local contractor for assistance.
  1. Great Performance – Keeping blower motors and other components clean is important to ensure that air can move through the heat exchangers. A good, clean air filter can remove much of the dust and dirt from the air-conditioned space, as well as those components, thus maintaining great performance and extended the life of the system.
  1. When to Call a Professional – Even if you are changing the filter regularly, if it comes out appearing extremely dirty, cleaner than expected, or has insects or mold visible, have the system inspected by a contractor. Also, if particles are visibly being released from indoor registers, we would recommend calling a contractor for inspection.

Here’s a quick look at a pleated air filter replacement.

Locate your HVAC air filter.First, turn off the system – make sure it is not running while you are changing the filter. Then, locate your filter (many are at the base of the unit, though, this one was in a utility closet).



Remove your air filter cover.Once the cover is removed, follow the instruction on the box to replace the filter cassette.




Replacing your home AC air filter.Home air filter removalHere you can see the filter as air would be passing through it.




When to replace your HVAC air filter.HVAC air filter comparison.Notice the color difference between the old, dirty filter and the clean, new filter. Place the new filter in the cassette.



For a more detailed look, check out the following step-by-step video on home air filter replacement.

How to Change Your Pleated Air Filter


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5 thoughts on “Changing Your Home Air Filter Is Easy To Do and May Prevent Costly Future Repairs

  1. A quick inspection of the inside, as well as a comparison of your current filter to a new one, could help in making the decision whether a replacement is necessary or not.

  2. Hi! When I first got my heating system installed/house built, I seem to remember being told not to use the “better” filters, and to stick with a simple fiberglass filter. Is this correct? Is there any way that installing a filter having the same filter dimensions could damage my system if it is better at filtering, and therefore, harder to pull air through? Thanks!

  3. Do I need to buy the exact same filter brand for replacement? Online reviews vary and there are many to choose from-Nordic Pure, 3M, Honeywell, Aprilaire, generic. Is there really a difference in efficiency?
    What does Merv refer to?

    • Hi Mario – MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is the industry rating system used for air filtration. It was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers – ASHRAE. The higher values indicate better expected relative filtration performance – in other words, higher MERV filters should do a better job at filtering dust particles, pollen and other unwanted material out of the air moving through your system.

      People often use different replacement brands for their filters as long as they fit right. Getting the dimmensions and fit right is most important, followed by the MERV rating – and keeping them clean – which you are doing.. The polices on this site do not allow us to comment on particular brands. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for using our site!

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