Air Conditioner Filters: Easy Steps To Replace It


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One of the key elements that are needed to ensure that AC units functions at their optimum capacity are air conditioner filters. Although they are hidden and don’t carry as much weight as the compressor, air conditioner filters need to be given a lot of attention. That’s exactly why new AC models come with check filter indicators.

But one thing that many people don’t realize when it comes to air conditioner filters is that replacing them is an easy DIY project. As much as your HVAC repairman may love coming to help you keep your air conditioner in tip-top shape, I know they don’t want to unnecessarily charge you for something you can do for yourself.

So how do you change air conditioner filters?

man checking the air conditioner filters

That’s an extremely great question. But before I give you a direct answer, let’s briefly take a look at the importance of air conditioner filters.

Air Conditioner Filters – What are they and Why are they So Important?

Ai conditioner filters are devices made from fibrous or porous materials. They aid in removing solid particulates such as dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria from the air that passes through the air conditioner. These AC filters are placed strategically in an air conditioning unit in order to keep pollutants from affecting the quality of the air the air conditioner channels into your home.

So why are air conditioner filters so important?

putting a air conditioner filter

1. Air Conditioner Filters Protect You fro m Harmful Pollutants

By virtue of their purpose, air conditioner filters filter out pollutants from the air outside and prevent them from being channeled into your home. This will protect you from allergens and other pollutants that can affect your respiratory organs.

In essence, clean air conditioner filters mean better indoor air quality for you and your loved ones.

2. Air Conditioner Filters Affect the Performance of Your AC Unit

As the air conditioner filter in your AC unit becomes dirtier or worn out, it starts to negatively impact of your AC unit. For one, because the pores in the filter are clogged, the blower will have to work harder. This extra strain will increase the rate of wear and tear on your air conditioner.

The opposite is also detrimental. An air conditioner that lets in dust and other particulates will lead to the components of the air conditioner getting damaged. The result of both effects is that there will be a decrease in comfort as the air flow and air quality won’t be as good as they should be.

And because of that, air conditioner filters need to be replaced regularly, and that’s also why you need to learn how to do the replacing yourself.

How to Replace Your Air Conditioner Filters – 6 Easy Steps

man replacing air conditioner filters

It is advisable to change air conditioner filters at least every 2 months. And when it is peak season once a month may be the best. Because of this frequency, you will end up burning a big hole in your pocket if you call your HVAC technician every time you need to replace an air conditioner filter.

To save you from blowing your money away, here’s the easy way of replacing your air conditioner filters.

1. Turn the Air Conditioner Off

When it comes to working with electrical appliances, one cardinal rule should never be ignored when repairing or maintaining it – make sure the appliance is completely switched off. This will make sure that you don’t run the risk of getting an electric shock as you work – something that can be fatal.

Another safety measure you need to take before you go ahead and replace your air conditioner filter is to put on a face mask and goggles to prevent dust from getting into your nose and eyes. Remember, the dust and debris trapped in the filter can be dangerous.

2. Locate the Air Conditioner Filter

Air conditioner filters are located in different locations depending on the type of air conditioner and the model you have. The best way to figure this out is of course to check your owner’s manual. But more often than not, air conditioner filters are located behind the main vent that lets out the cool air into your house.

Although most air conditioners may require you to take out a few screws in order to reach the filter, many new models now feature a slide-out filter. Another advancement in air conditioner technology that you nwill appreciate is that many filters are washable. This concept, however, has confused a few people as they assume that washable air conditioner filters don’t need replacement at all. This just isn’t true as they do need replacement, some every year depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

3. Remove the Old Air Filter

Once you have located the air filter, gently take it out being careful not to bump it onto anything as that will cause all the dust and debris to fall out on your floor. Make sure to dispose of the old air filter properly. If it is your first time removing the air filter, make sure to be extra careful to note the direction the filter faces and the type of filter your air conditioner uses. This will make it easy for you to put the new one in.

4. If the Filter Simply Needs Cleaning…

If the filter you are using is washable, make sure to note the date you are doing so. Dust it off, clean it with a damp cloth, and let it air dry.

5. Getting a Replacement Filter

If your air conditioner filter needs to be replaced, make sure to note the model number of your air conditioner, or better yet, of the filter. This will make it easy to know the exact type and size filter you need. If possible, you can carry your old filter with you as well. It can make it easier to find an alternative if the exact match is not available.

When it comes to getting a new filter, many people wonder whether they should get a HEPA filter or not. Well, this is debatable but in most cases, the simple truth is that most residential air conditioners can’t handle HEPA filters. This is because HEPA filters are made of a very fine mesh fabric that restricts air-flow. In order to get air to pass through, you will need a high-powered blower to do so. Something most residential ACs don’t have.

You are actually better off getting high-efficiency air conditioner filters. These work as well as HEPA filters do but don’t restrict air-flow as much.

6. Fit the New Air Filter

Now that you’ve succeeded to get a replacement filter, it’s time for your next victory – fitting the new filter. Before you fit the new filter, you will need to note 2 things first.

  • The date.It is important that you note the date you are fitting the new filter as it will help you have a rough idea of the next air filter replacement date. Although most modern air conditioners come with an air filter indicator, taking note of the date will still prove to be useful in keeping tabs on the efficiency of the air filter.
  • Air-flow direction. Noting the direction in which air flows will help you know which direction the new air conditioner filter should face. 

Fitting the new filter is basically the reverse process of removing it.

Air Conditioner Filters – Your AC Unit’s Lungs

a person's hand holding a air conditioner controller

Taking care of your air conditioner’s filter is something that you need to take seriously and religiously. After all, air conditioner filters are like your air conditioner’s lungs. Failure to do so may actually have a big impact on your own lungs as well. So please do take care to replace your air conditioner filters regularly. Your health depends on it.

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