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Where Is My Air Filter Located and How Often Should I Change It?

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Looking for ways to keep your home comfortable and the air you breathe clean? Start with something important: maintaining your air conditioning or furnace filter. Believe it or not, these filters are the unsung heroes of your HVAC system, working tirelessly to keep the system running efficiently and significantly improve the air quality in your home.

But here’s something you might not know: changing your HVAC air filter is one of the easiest and most important things you can do. A clean filter means less dust, allergens, and pollutants in your home, making the air safer for you and your family. Plus, it helps your HVAC system work more efficiently, saving you money on energy bills and avoiding costly repairs down the line.

In this blog, we’re going to simplify the whole process of AC and furnace filter maintenance for you. We’ll go over:

Schedule an AC or Furnace Tune-Up with the Cooper Green Team Today!

Since 1978, we’ve stayed committed to helping Colorado homeowners maximize their energy savings. When you schedule an AC or heating system tune-up with our highly-trained and experienced technicians, we’ll thoroughly inspect and clean your system. We’ll also let you know if your AC or furnace filter needs changing, and we can even change it for you!

Where the AC or Furnace Filter Is Located

The filter’s location can vary depending on the type of HVAC system you have, but here are some common places to look:

  • In or near the furnace: The filter could be located in the furnace itself. This is often in a utility closet, basement, or attic. Look for a slot along the air return duct or near the blower unit. The slot typically has a cover that can be opened or slid out, revealing the filter.
  • Return air vents: Some systems use filters placed in return air vents. These vents can be found on walls, ceilings, or floors throughout your home. They’re usually large grilles with slats. If your system uses this type, you’ll likely have multiple filters to change, so check each one.
  • Behind access panels: In some systems, the filter is hidden behind an access panel on the HVAC unit. This panel may require you to use a screwdriver or another tool to open it, revealing the filter inside.

Tips for Finding Your Filter:

  • Consult your system’s manual: The best starting point is to check your HVAC system’s manual. It should provide the exact location of the filter and instructions for accessing it.
  • Look for air flow direction: Filters are usually installed in the direction of airflow, meaning they catch particles as air moves through the system. This can help you identify potential locations.
  • When in doubt, ask for help: If you still have trouble finding your filter, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. An HVAC technician can quickly show you where your filter is located and how to change it.

Once you’ve located your filter, the next step is learning how to change it — a crucial task for maintaining air quality and system efficiency in your home.

How to Change the Filter

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Changing your AC or furnace filter is a simple yet impactful task that can improve your home’s air quality and the efficiency of your HVAC system. Here’s a step-by-step guide to changing your filter, ensuring you can handle this task confidently and safely.

Step 1: Turn Off Your HVAC System

Before you do anything, it’s important to turn off your HVAC system. This prevents air from flowing while you’re changing the filter and ensures your safety.

Step 2: Locate the Filter

Refer to the section above to find your filter’s location. Once you’ve found it, you may need to remove a cover or access panel to get to the filter.

Step 3: Remove the Old Filter

Slide the old filter out carefully. Most filters will come out easily, but if there’s any resistance, check for any latches or clips that might be holding it in place.

Step 4: Check the Size and Direction

Before you dispose of the old filter, note its size (length, width, and thickness) and the direction of the airflow arrows printed on the frame. The size is crucial for buying a replacement, and the airflow direction helps in installing the new filter correctly.

Step 5: Buy a Replacement Filter

With the correct size in hand, purchase a new filter. There are various types of filters, from basic models that primarily protect your HVAC system to high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that can significantly improve indoor air quality. Choose one that suits your needs and budget.

Step 6: Install the New Filter

Slide the new filter into place, ensuring it’s facing the right direction (the arrows on the frame should point towards the furnace or air handler, indicating the airflow direction). Make sure it fits snugly without any gaps around the edges. Your filters should be changed between one and 12 months, depending on the filter’s rating. You may have to change them more frequently if you live in an area with high dust levels or if you own pets.

Step 7: Replace the Cover or Access Panel

If you must remove a cover or access panel, put it back in place.

Step 8: Turn Your HVAC System Back On

You can turn your HVAC system back on with the new filter installed. It’s a good idea to check the system briefly to ensure everything is running smoothly and the filter is securely in place.

Why Changing Your AC or Furnace Filter Is Important

The primary function of your AC or furnace filter is to trap and remove dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne particles from the air circulating through your home. Over time, the filter becomes clogged with these particles, reducing its effectiveness. Regularly changing the filter ensures that the air in your home remains clean, reducing the risk of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

A clean filter allows air to flow freely through your HVAC system, ensuring it operates at peak efficiency. When a filter is clogged, your system has to work harder to circulate air, leading to decreased efficiency and increased energy consumption. By changing your filter regularly, you can maintain your system’s efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and save on utility bills.

A dirty filter can lead to a variety of problems, including overheating, freezing up of the AC unit, and even total system failure. These issues are not only inconvenient but can also be expensive to fix. Changing your filter regularly helps prevent these problems, ensuring your system runs smoothly year-round.

Benefits of Professional AC Maintenance

Professional AC and furnace maintenance offers many benefits that can help improve your cooling and heating performance, prevent your system from breaking down, improve indoor air quality, and reduce monthly energy bills. Opting for professional maintenance ensures that every aspect is handled correctly and allows experts to identify potential issues that may require minor repairs before they escalate into major problems. 

Here are some benefits of professional maintenance:

  1. Comprehensive inspection and cleaning: Professionals thoroughly inspect and clean your HVAC system, including hard-to-reach parts. This ensures all components work well and minor issues are fixed before becoming bigger problems, keeping your system running smoothly.
  2. Boosted energy efficiency: Technicians clean and tune your system for optimal performance, leading to lower energy consumption and reduced bills while benefiting the environment.
  3. Longer equipment life: Regular maintenance by experts prevents wear and tear, extending the lifespan of your AC system and delaying expensive replacements.
  4. Prevention of breakdowns: Professional checks help avoid sudden system failures by addressing potential issues early, especially during extreme weather periods.
  5. Ensuring safety: Experts ensure your system’s safety by checking for electrical issues, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide leaks, protecting your home from potential hazards.
  6. Warranty protection: Keeping up with professional maintenance meets manufacturer warranty requirements, safeguarding your investment.
  7. Peace of mind: Knowing your system is professionally serviced and reliable offers invaluable comfort, especially in severe weather, ensuring it’s always running when you need it most.

Signing up for a complete service package, such as the Cooper’s Heating and Cooling Green Club Maintenance Plan, means you’ll get regular maintenance and inspections, along with discounts on any services you might need. This approach keeps your system in top shape and offers peace of mind, knowing professionals handle everything.

Save yourself some money and enjoy the no-hassle convenience of our Green Club Maintenance Plan.

Cooper Heating and Cooling has proudly served Colorado homeowners with high-efficiency HVAC services for the last 40+ years. To extend the lifespan of your air conditioner and enjoy lower cooling bills for years to come, schedule an AC tune-up or join our Green Club Maintenance plan. Members receive annual tune-ups, along with special perks like loyalty credits, priority scheduling, discounts on parts, and more!

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Luke Cooper

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