Do you ever feel like the air in your home isn’t as fresh and clean as it could be?
Chances are, the air filter in your HVAC system needs to be changed.
But where is it located?
Most homeowners won’t know the answer to this question.
Fortunately, we’ve got all the information you need right here.
In this article, we’ll cover how to locate air filters in different types of HVAC systems.
Additionally, we’ll teach you how to change them properly and even provide tips on maintaining air conditioning filters so they last longer.
Read on to learn more about your HVAC air filter.
What is an Air Filter?
Air filters are essential components in air conditioner units. They’re designed to capture airborne particles (dust, dirt, and other contaminants) from the air that circulates through a system.
By trapping these particles, the air filter helps reduce allergens and pollutants inside a home. This makes it easier for homeowners to breathe clean, healthy air indoors.
All air filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. This measures their effectiveness in stopping dust and other contaminants from entering your heating or cooling system.
Air filter MERV ratings can range anywhere from 1 to 20. Generally, an air filter with a rating of 16 or below is more suitable for residential and commercial areas.
Meanwhile, those with MERV ratings of 17 to 20 are used for more sensitive locations, such as clean rooms, operating rooms, etc.
Does a Higher Rating Mean It’s Better?
When considering MERV ratings on an HVAC air filter, remember that higher isn’t always better.
HVAC systems have particular requirements when it comes to the air filter they need. If you choose an air filter with a higher rating than the AC unit can take, it can impair its performance.
Consequently, this can reduce indoor air quality and comfort inside your home. Before switching out the old air filters in your air conditioner, make sure to check what type you need first.
Where to Find the Air Filter in an HVAC System
There are several types of HVAC systems. Most of the time, the air filter may be located in the return air duct or air handler connected to these systems.
However, the location of the air filter can still differ between models.
Here’s a closer look at each model and how you can locate its air filter:
Most residential buildings use split systems to cool and heat their homes.
This system typically has two components: one for heating (usually placed in the basement) and one for cooling (usually placed outdoors).
The air filters for this type of system are typically located indoors, near the air handler. The air handler may look like a large metal box that houses the fan and fan motor.
Hybrid Split System
Also known as dual-fuel systems, hybrid split systems can switch between fuel sources. They feature two components: an electric heat pump and a gas furnace.
The air filters for this type of system are typically located in the return air duct near the fan motor or blower motor.
Packaged Heating and Cooling System
These systems are usually installed outdoors and feature both a heating and cooling component. They aren’t as common as the previously mentioned systems.
The air filter of these units are usually found in the return air duct close to where the fan or blower motor is located.
Popular in larger homes, zoned systems are designed to control the temperature in different rooms or sections of a house
For this type of system, you’ll have several air filters to collect from each room in your home.
Check for air slots or return air vents in every room. Also take a look at the air handler in your basement or attic, to see if it may also contain an air filter.
A duct-free mini-split system is used to cool and heat individual rooms or sections of a home. It’s composed of an indoor air handler and an outdoor condenser unit.
The air filters for this type of system are usually located in the air handler, near the blower motor.
Hydronic Heating System
This type of system uses heated water or steam to move air from one space to another.
Air filters for this type of system are typically located near the furnace, in either the return air duct or air handler.
Portable Spot Cooler
These systems are used to cool a designated area or room. Air filters in this type of air conditioner are usually located in the return air duct, near the fan motor or blower motor.
Portable Heat Pump
Similar to spot coolers, these systems are designed to heat up a designated area or room.
The air filters in this type of system can be found near the fan motor or blower motor, usually located in the return air duct.
How to Change AC Air Filters
Changing an AC air filter is a simple process that most homeowners can do on their own. Here are the steps you need to take to replace an air filter in an HVAC unit:
- Determine the type of HVAC unit and locate the air filter. Depending on the type of system you have, your air filter will be located in different places such as the return air ducts or air handler. Refer to the guide above for more information on how to locate your particular air filter.
- Gather all necessary materials before starting. Make sure you have a new filter that matches your existing one, safety goggles (to protect your eyes from dust particles), rubber or latex gloves (to protect your hands from any dirt and debris that may be stuck on the old filter), and a vacuum cleaner (to clean out any dust left behind).
- Turn off all power sources connected to your air conditioning system before changing out the filters. This includes turning off any breakers connected to your unit and shutting off gas lines—if applicable. This will ensure that no electrocution or fires occur while you work. Remove the screws from the return duct or air handler unit—wherever the air filter is located. Carefully put aside the air handler or return duct vents to avoid damaging the component.
- Wear safety goggles and gloves while replacing the old air filter with a new one. Carefully remove any dust or debris stuck onto the old filter using a vacuum cleaner before putting in a new one. Make sure not to damage any parts of the HVAC system while doing this step.
- Put in the new air filter into its designated spot according to its directions and secure it properly by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget to reattach the air handler or return duct grates.
- Once everything is secure, turn back on all power sources connected to your HVAC system and test out if it is functioning properly. You can do this by running your AC for a few minutes and checking for any abnormalities or strange noises coming from it before turning it off again afterward.
- Make sure to regularly check up on your AC filters every 3-4 months for maximum efficiency of operation.
How to Maintain HVAC Air Filter
If you want to keep your home safe and clean for everyone, it’s important to stay on top of your HVAC maintenance. The following tips should help you extend the life expectancy of your air filters and your AC unit:
Tip 1: Regularly Replace Air Filter
Make sure to switch out your air filters every 1-2 months. This will ensure that your HVAC system is running efficiently and you’re breathing in clean air all year round.
If you have a reusable air filter, make sure to wash it at least every 1-3 months.
Tip 2: Use the Same Type of Air Filter
Always use the same type of air filter when changing it. Check with the manufacturer for what type of air filter works best with your system.
Tip 3: Wear Protection
Always wear protective gloves and a mask when handling air filters. This will keep you safe from any dust or particles inside the air filter.
Tip 4: Properly Dispose of Filter
Dispose of the old air filter properly. Never just throw it away, as this can be dangerous for both your health and the environment.
Tip 5: Invest in Professional Cleaning Services
Finally, investing in professional cleaning services from Taylor Heating and AC is a great way to ensure your HVAC system stays functional and in tip-top shape.
With our help, you can be sure that your air filters are installed properly and replaced regularly for maximum efficiency.
This also reduces the risk of any potential damage occurring due to improper maintenance.
Expert HVAC Maintenance and Repair Services
Here at Taylor Heating and AC, we prioritize the safety and comfort of our clients.
We are experts in air filter maintenance and air conditioning repair. Our professional technicians have years of experience in the field and use state-of-the-art equipment to guarantee the best service possible.
Don’t hesitate to reach out today for a free quote and consultation.
Achieve a comfortable and safe home by calling Taylor Heating and AC at (253) 208-5315 today!
We look forward to serving you.