DIY Pro-Tip: How to Change Your Air Filter
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DIY Pro-Tip: How to Change Your Air Filter


If you have a heating and air conditioning system in your home, maintenance is vital to ensuring that it not only continues to operate properly, but operates efficiently and will last as long as possible. While professional maintenance is invaluable, there are also some things you should do regularly to help keep it at its best. Perhaps the most important of these things is replacing your air filter.

Replacing your air filter is an easy and simple service, but also one which can have detrimental effects on your system if not done often enough. A dirty air filter can cause everything from inefficiency and poor indoor air quality to things like freezing air conditioners, broken components and so much more. A dirty air filter can even shorten the overall lifespan of your system by several years, significantly reducing the value you receive from your system.

Fortunately, replacing your air filter is a service that virtually anyone can do—you may not even need any additional tools or skills to get it done properly. On this blog, our Portland professional heating and cooling services team offers you a brief step-by-step guide for how to change the air filter in your heating and cooling system so you can take care of this vital maintenance service yourself, all while keeping your system more dependable and your indoor air quality better!

Step 1: Remove the Access Panel

First, turn your air conditioner off for the time being, including the fan. On the front of your indoor unit is a small access panel, which is usually located near the air intake duct of your air handler. Removing it is usually a matter of simply sliding the access panel upward to get it out of the way. However, if you’re not sure, simply run a web search for the make and model of your system to find the owner’s manual documents and it should tell you specifically how to remove yours.

Step 2: Remove the Old Filter

Your old filter is usually held in with something like a spring or other small device keeping it in place. Simply unhook it and your filter should slide right out. If you look at the side of your air filter which is right up against your air intake vent, it will most likely be gray and full of dust and other particles. Try not to touch or disturb this side however possible, since you don’t want that stuff being released back into your air.

Look on the side of your air filter for the dimensions of your particular unit. Every unit is different, but the sizes are generally pretty standardized, and listed as three numbers. For example, a 16x24x1 filter means it’s 16 inches wide, 24 inches long, and 1 inch thick. Be sure the replacement filter you buy is the same dimensions—you can usually pick one up from your local hardware store for just a few dollars. You can throw the old filter away in your normal garbage.

Step 3: Install the New Filter

One side of your air filter should have some sort of a support structure on it, while the other is a large, exposed filter surface. This is by design—the extra support material is designed to keep the paper in your filter in place when air is being pulled through it under high amounts of pressure. Make sure you install your new filter with this support structure facing away from the air intake vent.

Simply slide the filter back in place and reset the security latch to lock it in. Your new filter should be secure and not move easily. Finally, slide your access panel back and you’re good to go. Go ahead and turn your HVAC system back on and your air filter should start working as normal again.

Check Your Air Filter Regularly

Finally, you should regularly check your air filter to ensure it hasn’t become clogged or dirty over time. The more debris gets into your air filter, the worse your filter will work, and the worse off your air conditioner is. Once a month, you should open your access panel and unhook your air filter to check the side facing your air intake vent. If the filter is still in decent shape, then you’re okay to keep using it. However, when your filter gets too dirty, you need to replace it as soon as possible. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep several air filters stored in your home at a time so you can replace one immediately as it becomes necessary. The more you run your air conditioner or heater, the more you’ll need to replace your air conditioner.

Do you need your air conditioner repaired? Need a professional maintenance appointment? Call Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing, Electrical, Drain Services at (503) 266-1249 and schedule your service today.

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