When was the last time you changed your HVAC system’s air filter? Unless it’s been less than a month since the last change, there is a good chance that a new filter is needed. For your HVAC system to work properly, it needs consistent maintenance. The HVAC air filter cleans the air flowing through your system. However, as time passes by, the filter may be clogged, causing a reduction in its impact. Changing your filters on a timely basis is crucial for better air quality and your HVAC system’s efficiency.

Signs It’s Time to Change Your HVAC Filter

There are a few telltale signs that indicate your HVAC system needs a new filter.

Reduced Airflow

As the filter catches more particles over time, it restricts airflow. You may notice vents blowing weaker and less air circulation throughout your home. Reduced airflow also puts more strain on your HVAC system.

Increased Energy Bills

A dirty filter forces your unit to work harder to push air through. This extra effort increases your energy consumption, leading to higher utility costs. Putting in a new filter that provides a cleaner airflow means your system can function efficiently without any hindrances.

Dust Accumulation

Over time, you’ll notice a thin layer of dust building up on surfaces around your house as the particle-trapping efficiency of the filter decreases. Give vents, fans, and furniture a test; if dust rings or clumps are visible, it’s time for a new filter.

By watching for these warning signs, you can catch filter issues before they impact your comfort, health, or utility bills. Depending on your system and household, replacing filters every one to three months can optimize airflow.

Step-by-Step Guide to Changing HVAC Filters

Getting the best functionality from your HVAC system comes from regular maintenance. The first thing to do is replace the old air filter with a new one following the appropriate steps and guidelines. The filter of your HVAC system can get clogged and dirty, and hence, it may work harder than required and damage components within the system over time.

These are steps you need to follow when changing your HVAC filters.

1. Turn Off the HVAC System

The first step for you to take is to shut off your HVAC system. Such is the case for your own protection to avoid harm. First, find the thermostat and switch it to the “off” position. Chances are you may also need to simply flip the switch or a circuit breaker to shut off the unit completely. Remember to turn off the fan before going to the next steps again. Turning power off prevents you from being shocked or getting into spindles or moving parts.

2. Locate the Air Filter

Air filters can be found in different locations depending on your HVAC system type. In a forced air system, the filter is usually found in the supply or return air vent, often placed in the ductwork before the blower fan. Look for a slot or access panel behind which the filter will be housed. Common locations include the furnace, air handler unit in the attic, or a return vent grill inside. Photographs or diagrams in the owner’s manual can help identify the filter location if you’re unsure. Take note so you know where to return after replacing.

3. Remove the Old Filter

Gently grasp the old filter from the sides or edges and pull it straight out of the slot or opening. Do not yank or force it as this could potentially damage the surrounding ductwork or HVAC components. Inspect the dirty filter to see just how clogged it has become. You may be surprised at the amount of dust and debris that has collected. Dirty filters can cause efficiency issues and premature component failure if not changed regularly.

4. Check for Any Issues or Damage

Before installing the new filter, do a minute-long inspection of the nearby scene for any problems. Scan for things like tears, holes in the ductwork, water damage, corrosion, or debris piling up that can clog airflow and cause leaks. This is also an excellent opportunity to remove any end-of-season dust and dirt around the place where the filter is located. Quickly detecting minor issues can save you from having to cover extensive repair costs later on. Properly dispose of the old filter.

5. Install the New Filter

Most filters have an arrow or other indicator showing the recommended airflow direction. Align the new filter with this marker facing toward the blower fan/indoor coil. Slide it gently into the slotted area where the old one was removed. The fit should require little force. Ensure it is secure and fully seated within the confines of the slot without buckling or folding over at the edges. This ensures proper airflow and maximum particulate filtration as designed.

6. Ensure Proper Alignment and Direction

Double-check that the new filter is positioned correctly by verifying the alignment arrow and inspecting for gaps around the edges. Proper installation is essential for maximum airflow while trapping dust, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens. Reach in and feel along the filter seams to confirm it is flat without any wrinkles that could disrupt airflow. Also, check that the airflow direction matches what was noted for your specific HVAC system type. A misaligned filter will protect equipment or filter air less effectively.

7. Turn the HVAC System Back On

With the new filter securely in place, it’s time to power the HVAC system back up. Flip the necessary switches or breakers to restart the power to the unit. Return to the thermostat and switch it back to the desired “heat” or “cool” setting. Listen for the fan to power on smoothly without any strange noises or vibrations. This final test ensures everything is replaced correctly before standard operation resumes. Stick to your regular filter changing schedule indicated by the owner’s manual to maintain the efficiency and functionality of your home’s indoor air quality system.

Proper maintenance, which includes routinely changing HVAC filters, is one of the most accessible and impactful tasks to keep your system operating at its best. A clean filter prevents dirt and debris from accumulating in components and reduces unnecessary wear and tear. Sticking to the recommended replacement schedule for the air filters protects indoor air quality and expensive HVAC equipment functionality. With just a few minutes of filter swapping a few times a year, you can save money on your energy bills and future repair costs while breathing easier at home. Regular filter changes are low-effort, high-reward maintenance tasks for comfort and efficiency.

For expert HVAC services, including inspections, repairs, and new installations, contact the professional team at Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air. As the Treasure Valley’s leading provider for over 30 years, we can ensure your system’s filters are optimized for safe, efficient operation. Contact us today for a free quote and more information about our HVAC maintenance services.

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