A common question asked by homeowners is how to install an Air Conditioner filter. For those who are new to this task, it can be a bit intimidating. So with some pictures and tips, we will try to make it a bit less intimidating. Once you install your first air conditioner filter, you quickly realize that there is not much to it.
A more difficult question to answer is, how often should you change your HVAC filter?
Air conditioner filters are generally installed in the air handler behind a narrow access panel. This access panel may be secured in place using sliding clips that anchor the panel to the air handler housing, sheet metal screws, thumb screws or behind hinged access panels.
Remove the access panel, slide the dirty air filter out and install the new one. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to remove the filter because there is not enough room to get your fingers in to grab the filter. This problem can be easily resolved by adding a loop of duct tape to the frame of the new filter before you install it. This loop of tape will become a handle for you to grasp so you can easily pull the filter out when you want to replace it or check it.
If you can’t find the air conditioner filter in the air handler, it may have been installed in the return duct of the system. In this case, it could be almost anywhere. Look for narrow sheet metal panels in the return duct that may be hinged or slide into a track. You may find your air conditioner filter there.
When To Change Your Air Conditioner Filter
Other important things that you can do to keep your air conditioner working at maximum efficiency is to change the filter every one to three months. I know, that’s not very helpful information. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be exact for many reasons, so let’s cover some of the things that you will need to consider when scheduling filter changes in your home. If you use a very efficient AC filter, it may need to be changed every month. If you use a very inefficient filter, you may only need to replace it every three months.
Every house is different, and there are many factors that determine how often your heating and air conditioning filters should be replaced. If you wait too long, operating efficiency begins to decline; as efficiency drops, operating costs increase. Changing your air filter more often than necessary is like throwing money away. Considering the cost of some filters will add up to a lot of money over your lifetime.
Cheap, inefficient air filters can cause problems with air conditioners over time and are best avoided. The dust that does not get collected by your filter gets redistributed back into your home. That can be bothersome, but the biggest concern with this is the dust that collects on the fan, blower motor and evaporator coil of your air conditioner. This can cause maintenance problems and impact equipment performance which leads to service calls, and that just costs more money.
If you are an allergy sufferer or have other health concerns, efficient filters are a better choice for you. Filters with high MERV ratings or high-efficiency ratings will remove more household allergens from the air, and allergic reactions may be reduced.
Some Things To Consider
- If you use a very efficient air filter, it will probably need to be changed monthly. This is because efficient filters collect a lot more dust than inefficient filters. For example, a MERV 12 pleated filter, HEPA filters and electrostatic filters should be changed or cleaned monthly.
- Economy panel filters that you can get at many hardware stores are very inefficient and will not have to be changed very often. These are very poor quality, and I don’t recommend them.
- If you live in a location that is very dusty, you will need to change your filter more often than if you live in a low dust area.
- Air filters generally need to be changed more often in the summer months than in the winter months when the ground is covered with snow.
- Equipment that does not operate continuously will not require as many filter changes as equipment that is always operating. Between heating and cooling, seasons are typically low usage times.
What About Filter Change Reminders
Many thermostats have filter change indicators to remind you to change your AC filter at predetermined intervals, and some can be programmed to remind you at whatever interval you want. These are ok for reminders but don’t have much real value because they don’t indicate when the filter is actually becoming dirty enough to restrict airflow and begin affecting unit operation.
A Couple of Better Options for Homeowners
Remove your AC filter monthly for inspection. When it is dirty enough, and you change it, write the date down on the side of your air handler, duct system or where ever your filter is installed. After a year of doing this, you will have established a very good guide for when to change your air conditioner filter.
With these tips in mind, we hope you should be able to install an AC filter with ease. As this is one of the easiest Air Conditioner maintenance tasks homeowners can tackle.