How to Successfully Change a Furnace Filter

A person changing a furnace filter on a high efficiency furnace

Furnace filters keep the air in your home clean, play a big role in determining energy costs, and help keep your HVAC system running well. Best of all, they’re easy to replace yourself! Here’s a quick guide to changing your furnace filter.

1. Find where your filter is

In general, your furnace filter will be located within the blower compartment. However, the actual location will vary depending on the installation of unit. Fortunately, many HVAC systems make it obvious where the filter is located.

If you aren’t sure where your furnace filter is, simply search your HVAC make and model online. This will help you find where the filter is.

2. Check the filter size

Once you’ve located the filter, check that you have the correct filter size on hand. There are many different filter sizes, and there are no universal sizes.

Fortunately, HVAC filters include their dimensions on the side of the filter in most cases.

In addition to different filter sizes, there are different MERV ratings. The higher the MERV rating, the more particulates the filters can catch. Read more about MERV ratings and how often you should change your filters.

3. Turn off the power to the HVAC system

You don’t want the system kicking on in the middle of a filter change! If your HVAC system has a built-in switch, flip it to the “off” position. Otherwise, go to your breaker box and turn your HVAC breaker to “off.”

4. Remove the old filter(s)

Your HVAC system may take one or two filters. Note which way the air flow arrows are pointing. Then, remove the old filter(s).

Before you discard old filters, compare them to a new filter. You may be surprised by how dirty the old filter is in comparison! Comparing your old filter to a new filter can help you determine the best time to change throughout the year.

While the general guidance for changing filters is every one to three months, conditions may require you to change them more often. For example, if you live in an area with wildfires or have pets, you may need to change your filters more often.

5. Install the new filter(s) in the correct direction

If you forgot to check which way the air flow arrows were pointing on the old filters, you’ll want to make sure you install the new filters correctly. Fortunately, it’s easy to determine.

The air flow arrows should always point toward the furnace.

If you install the filters backward, they won’t work as efficiently. That could mean dirtier air, higher energy bills, or more strain on your HVAC system, which could lead to expensive breakdowns.

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