Air Conditioner Filter

When most people hear the words “air pollution,” they think of car exhaust, city smog, and dangerous chemicals used in construction work—not of the air within their own homes. However, a study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that indoor air can be anywhere from 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside!

From pollen and pet dander to cigarette smoke and byproducts from natural gas, homes have a surprising amount of pollutants.

The easiest way to get rid of them? Change out your air conditioner filter! This simple air conditioner care tactic is the most straightforward way to filter harmful compounds out of your home’s air—as long as you know how to tackle the job.

If you’re ready to freshen up your home’s air, here’s what you should know about replacing your filter.

Knowing When to Do an Air Filter Change

First things first: is it actually time to change your filter?

The EPA recommends that you perform this basic air conditioner maintenance task at least once every three months. However, every home and household is different, so the necessary frequency will depend on a few factors.

If you have any pets, for example, you’ll want to change your air filter more often. Pet dander, fur, and other airborne materials can have a negative impact on the air quality of your home.

If anyone in your household has allergies or respiratory conditions, you’ll also want to adjust your timeline depending on their severity. In some cases, you may want to change your filter once every thirty days.

It’s also important to take into account the size of your home, the number of people who live within it, and whether or not you spend a lot of time in it. Homes with few residents who spend most of their time off-property can sometimes get away with a filter change once every four or five months. 

In addition, homes in areas with poor air quality may need more frequent filter replacements. After all, the outdoor air will always affect the quality of the air inside your home over time.

Not sure how often you need a change? There’s an easy way to tell: locate your air filter using the guide below, and check to see whether it’s dirty enough to need a replacement. If you struggle to see through the grime when you hold the filter up to the light, it’s a good sign that a replacement is necessary!

Locating Your Air Conditioner Filter

The location of your home’s air filter depends on your unique HVAC or air conditioner model. If you have a larger system, you might even need to locate multiple filters in multiple rooms.

Your first step should be to check your manufacturer’s user manual, which should list the location of all filters in the unit.

Otherwise, you can often find filters behind the metal registers in the walls or ceiling of your home. Older homes may also have registered on the floor. Depending on the type of register, you may be able to pull the grate off without special tools, or you may need to remove screws with a screwdriver.

For households with window air conditioners, this task is often easy: you’ll just need to pull open the grate on the front face, or from the top or side compartment.

If you’re still struggling to locate your air filter, don’t hesitate to reach out to your HVAC service company. An expert can help you find your AC filter, and they may also be able to advise you on the right type of filter and replacement frequency for your specific household.

Finding the Right Air Filter for the Job

The easiest way to find the right air filter for the job is to look at the old air filter you’re replacing. After you pull it from your air conditioner, try to locate the brand and model type.

Alternatively, you may want to upgrade to a better filter.

Pleated filters, for example, can trap more dust and debris than flat or fiberglass filters can. You may also want to opt for washable filters, which are long-lasting and eco-friendly. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to get a filter with a good MERV rating for the best results.

In addition, you’ll need to know the size of the replacement filter you need, and you may also want to shop around for affordable options. This is especially true if you’ll need to replace your filter more often than most households. Checking sites like Discount Filters can help you locate the right brand and model filters for less, regardless of the size you need.

Changing Your Air Conditioner Filter

Once you have the right replacement filter, it’s time to make the change. Again, the details will vary based on the type of air conditioner you have in your home. However, in general, you’ll need to follow the steps below.

First, turn off the power to your air conditioner to ensure your safety.

Next, open the register in question. If you haven’t already removed the old filter, now is the time to do so. Dispose of the old filter by placing it in a trash bag, as there may be trapped contaminants within it.

At this point, you’ll need to follow the instructions on the new filter. It’s important to ensure that you insert the new filter in the right direction: most filters come with arrows showing which way to put it into the system.

Once your filter is in place, it’s time to power your system back on and enjoy your cleaner air!

Reduce Indoor Air Pollutants With One Easy Change

While you can’t keep all air pollutants outside where they belong, it’s important to take what steps you can—and changing your air conditioner filter is a big one. With one simple replacement, you can get your air conditioner working to scrub harmful pollutants from the air you breathe. Give your household the gift of clean air today with a quick filter change!

Looking for more of the tips you need to maintain your home and health? Be sure to check out our other guides for additional insights.