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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

How and When to Change the AC Filter


Spring air conditioning maintenance helps your cooling system to run at higher efficiency and avoid air conditioning repair in Alachua, FL. It also extends the service life of the system.

A professional does most of the maintenance during a scheduled visit. But there are a few maintenance tasks you’ll have to do on your own during the summer and fall, and the most important is changing the air filter in the HVAC system. This filter is what protects the inside of the air conditioner from dust and lint the blower fan draws through the intake ducts. The professional will change the filter during maintenance, but after that, you’ll need to make the periodic filter change yourself.

How Often to Change the Filter

The filter needs to be changed because it will become congested with debris over time. If you leave the filter in place for too long, it will cause the AC to lose efficiency and reduce household comfort.

But how long does it take for the filter to become clogged to the point it needs to change? It depends on the filter type:

  • Panel Filter: This is a simple screen filter, which costs about a dollar each when purchased in packs. This filter can protect the air conditioner, but it needs to be changed the most often. We recommend putting in a new filter every month.
  • Pleated Filter: These filters are made from stronger material and have more surface area because of the pleats. It’s best to change these filters every three months, although you may wish to check on it every month at first to make sure the filters aren’t clogging too fast.
  • Media Filter: This is a large filter designed for the best protection and the longest service—often lasting for six months. Not all HVAC systems are suited to this type of filter, so check with your technician before getting one.

How to Change the Filter

One of the best way to learn how to change the filter is to ask the technician during maintenance. They’ll gladly run through the steps with you, which we’ll list below:

  • Locate the filter: In most HVAC systems, the filter is located in a slot where the return air duct attaches to the HVAC cabinet. If it’s not there, look behind the vent grill of the return air duct in the house—it may be sitting right behind it.
  • Slide out the filter: The filter easily slides from its slot.
  • Slide in the new filter: You have to be a bit cautious with this step, because the filter is designed to a face a specific way. On the frame of the filter is an arrow showing the direction it must face. Match this arrow with the arrow on the slot so you put in the filter facing the right way.
  • Write the date on the filter frame: Take a marker and write the date you put in the filter on the outside frame. This makes it easy for you to know how long has passed since you put in a clean filter.

Remember to keep plenty of fresh filters handy. You can purchase them from home supply stores.

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