Why and How to Change an AC Filter

Why and How to Change an AC Filter

It’s no secret that air filters tend to get dirty from time to time. After all, it’s their job to keep your heating and cooling equipment free of dust, debris and other pesky grime that can contaminate your home and make you and your family sick.

And if you’re the kind of person who tends to put minor things off until there’s a sign of a problem, just imagine how clogged and dirty your air filter may look after just a few months of neglect.

Replacing your AC filter is so important because when it gets clogged, it causes your equipment to work harder for less output, which will, in turn, cause you even more stress when your system inevitably stops working as it should.

That’s why it’s extremely important to know when it’s time to finally change out your AC filter.

A general rule of thumb is to change your air filter at least once a month during what is considered “peak” AC season (May-August).

And while we at Alpha Dog Air love your business, we would be doing you a disservice if we said this wasn’t a simple enough job to do yourself.

Simply follow the steps outlined below and your AC will be back to blowing cool air in no time.

How to change an AC filter

1. First locate your filter. (TURN YOUR UNIT OFF) – replacing your AC filter is a fairly easy task, but first you will need to find it. This is usually the most difficult part of the entire process, as there are many different areas it may be.


First, look at your return air duct. Your return duct is the part of your AC system that takes the air from your home and pulls it back inside the air handler.


For systems that share the same heating and air conditioning ducts, the filter for both systems may be located in or near your blower system for the furnace. Be careful as you search, and know that it’s typically located at the very front of the furnace somewhere at the bottom.


You should be able to find your filter without needing to open anything, but sometimes it requires getting inside a panel somewhere on the front or the top of the blower depending on your exact setup.

There could also be screws, so make sure to have a screwdriver on hand.


2. Buy a replacement filter. Once you’ve located your air filter, the next step is ensuring you replace it with the proper size. Luckily, the filter size usually comes printed on the side of the filter. If it isn’t, you can always remove the filter and bring it with you to the store, where someone qualified should be able to help you.


You can also ask your HVAC tech to supply you with some backups of the right filters or show you the size info so that you’re able to replace it yourself when the time comes.


And if you want an AC filter that packs an extra punch beyond just stripping your system of pollen, mold and other harmful contaminants, consider investing in a HEPA filter with a MERV rating of at least 10 or higher.


3. Power off your system. This step is of the utmost importance for not one but two reasons.


First, think of your safety. Touching live voltage can lead to serious health complications and even death. Secondly, think of your equipment. If your unit is still operating when you remove the filter, there’s a chance it could suck in dust and debris as you do.


Therefore it’s very important that you power everything down before you get started, both on the unit and directly at the circuit breaker just to be safe.


4. Remove the old filter. This step is fairly straightforward. Simply slide the old AC filter out of the slot that holds it in and inspect the condition by holding it up to the light.

If it looks dirty and clogged then chances are good the filter needs to be replaced or at the very least cleaned.

5. Clean off the filter or replace it with a new one. If you are using a disposable cardboard air filter like most homeowners simply buy a new one and call it a day.


If you’re using a reusable filter made out of a more sturdy material like metal, simply rinse it with water and let it dry completely or reference the manufacturer’s instructions for more in-depth washing instructions.


6. Insert the new or clean air filter. There is usually an arrow on the filters frame that will show you the direction that air should flow through the filter.


When you insert the filter back inside the housing, make sure the arrow points in the opposite direction of the return and toward the air handler.


Improve your HVAC maintenance plan

As you can see, replacing a dirty air filter doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do.


That said, it’s probably a good idea to set a reminder on your phone or make a note on your calendar so that you remember to do it regularly.


If you have a dirty A/C filter, chances are good you’ve been neglecting other important maintenance tasks with your equipment as well.


That’s why having a preventive maintenance plan in place with Alpha Dog Air is so vital if you wish to keep your equipment in good working order for as long as possible.


It will lead to less wasted electricity, fewer astronomical repair costs and an overall increase in the lifespan of your system.

Give us a call today.

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1 thought on “Why and How to Change an AC Filter

  1. That’s good to know that you should change the filter once a month. I could see that being a good way to ensure that you get good airflow form the air conditioner all summer. If I have one installed I’ll try and switch the filters out so I could make sure it works properly.

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