DIY: How to Maintain and Change Your Home Air Filter

Updated: November 2015

Regular maintenance of your home heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) is important to help ensure its long life and efficient operation. Proper maintenance of this system can help keep your loved ones safe from extreme temperatures and may also help save you some money.

HVAC Home Air Filter Check  .

What Needs To Be Done:

The HVAC system heats your home during the cold winter months and keeps it cool in the hot summer months. Regularly changing the HVAC air filter is essential for its long life.

Why Do It?

The air filter keeps pollution and debris out of your HVAC system, ensuring proper and efficient operation. A dirty filter will slow down the air flow, making both the furnace work harder to heat your home and your AC work harder to cool it. This wastes energy and can result in higher costs.

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How Often?

According to, the filters on your home system should be changed either once a month or every three months, depending on the type you're using. You should check the product information on the filters for the manufacturer's suggested frequency of change.

Depending on where you live, the time of year, and how much you're using your AC or furnace, you may need to change your air filter more often. For example, during a steamy summer when you're running your system 24/7, you may end up having to change the filter more often than if the weather is nice and you can open the windows.

How to Do It:

The following tips from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) can help make changing your air filter easy. Always make sure to read your HVAC system's manufacturer instructions first to understand how to properly change the filter.

Step 1. Buy a new filter.

Before buying a new air filter, check your owner's manual to figure out the right number or size (it should be printed on the side of your existing air filter). You should be able to get a replacement filter at a hardware store, or some department stores sell them.

Step 2. Turn off the unit.

Be sure to turn off your HVAC unit before changing the filter, for your own safety. If you can't figure out how to turn off the unit itself, turn off the breaker.

Step 3. Remove the old filter.

Remove the old air filter, and slide the new filter into place. There are typically arrows or colors on the front and back of the new filter to indicate which side should be facing out.

HVAC Home Air Filter Replacement.

Remove the old air filter and slide the new filter into place.

Changing your HVAC air filter should be simple, but if you need help, you can call a professional.

This section highlights examples of precautions you can consider to help maintain your personal property. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance, and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate, and always consider safety.

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