Getting the Most out of a Home and Garden

How To Change A Home Air Filter

A clogged air filter can cause problems for the homeowner.  Your air conditioning will be less efficient and more expensive to run, and it could even fail altogether if you don't replace the air filter regularly.  This is a straightforward task that should form part of your home maintenance routine.  Here's how to do it.

  1. Begin by locating your air filter.  In most systems, the filter will be situated somewhere close to the central air return register, usually in one of the walls or in the ceiling of the main unit.  If you're not sure where the air filter is, check the manual for your system for confirmation.  
  2. When you've located the filter, make a note of the specifications so that you know what to buy when you visit the store to purchase a replacement.  A poorly fitting air filter will just allow air to travel around it, rendering it completely useless, so it's important that you buy the correct size and brand.  You can find this information clearly printed on the side of the unit or in the manual.  
  3. When you're ready to begin, put a dust mask on.  It's really important that you leave your mask on for the duration of the procedure.  The dirty filter will be full of all the debris you've carefully extracted from the air circulating around your home, and the last thing you want to do is breathe it in!  
  4. Turn off the unit and remove the cover from the filter.  Put any screws or clips somewhere safe where they won't get lost.   
  5. The filter that's currently in place will have information printed on it as to how it should be fitted, and this will be visible to you while the filter is still in place.  There will be an arrow to indicate how to position the filter correctly to ensure that air flows through it.  Make a note of this information before you remove the old filter.  Double-check the information on the new filter to ensure it's the right one.   
  6. Put an old dust sheet on the floor beneath the unit and carefully slide the old filter out.  If it has been in place for some time, it may need a little force to loosen it, but try to avoid too much pulling and tugging, as you don't want to shower the unit with dust and debris.  Put the old filter in a rubbish bag, taking care not to dislodge any dust.  
  7. Unwrap the new filter.  Make sure the arrows are lined up correctly before inserting it carefully into the vacated slot.  If you put the filter in the wrong way around, the airflow will be disrupted and the unit won't work properly, so it's important to get it right.  
  8. Replace the unit cover, remembering to replace any plastic clips or screws you may have removed to get the old filter out.   
  9. Switch the unit back on and check to see that it's working properly.

If you need help with this or any other maintenance steps, contact a local air conditioning company.