How Often You Should Change Your Air Filter

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Without a clean air filter, your HVAC unit works harder and is prone to more breakdowns. Compared to other DIY home improvement projects, changing air filters is a quick and painless process that can be done in less than an hour. However, many homeowners are unaware of how often air filters need to be replaced, leaving their system vulnerable to damage. Keep reading to learn when and how to change your air filter.

Why Changing Your Filter Is Important

Air filters trap pet hair, dust, and other irritating particles so that your air conditioning system delivers fresh, clean air back into your home. Eventually, the filter traps so much dust and debris that air can’t properly filter or travel to the HVAC unit, leading to:

How to Change Your Air Filter

You should ideally change your air filter every three months, however, there are certain factors to consider when determining when to change out an old filter.

While these factors affect the frequency of air filter replacement, you should visually inspect your filter every month to check for excess particle buildup. If the dirty air filter is completely layered with dust and debris, it’s a good idea to change the filter even if it hasn’t reached the end of its recommended lifespan.

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How to Change Your Filter

Here’s how to change your air filter when it’s time for a replacement.

  1. Purchase the right size filter—To find the size of your filter, check the old filter, which should have the size printed on one of its sides. If you can’t locate the size of the old filter, use a measuring tape to check its length, width, and depth.
  2. Turn off your unit—Flip the switch on your thermostat to turn off the unit, or turn your system completely off at the circuit breaker.
  3. Locate the filter—Your air filter is located in one of two places: a return duct or the air handler located in an attic, basement, or utility closet.
  4. Remove the grille or cover to the air filter—If your air filter is located in the system’s air handler, open the access panel. This may require a screwdriver to remove the small screws securing it. If your filter is in the return duct, flip the latches that hold the grille and remove it.
  5. Remove the old filter and insert the new one—Take the old filter from its place, carefully inspecting how it was situated inside the cover or grille. Take the new filter and place it inside, making sure the airflow arrows are pointed into the unit.
  6. Replace the cover and turn your system on—After replacing the filter, turn your system back on to ensure the filter is situated correctly and the air conditioner is running smoothly.
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