Air filters are an important but often under-appreciated part of a central HVAC system. When your air filter is dirty, the blower fan in the HVAC system has to work harder to push air. When it’s working harder, it’s drawing more energy, leading to higher bills. It’s also more likely to wear out from the strain. The difficulty it causes in moving air means that your living areas may not get all the air they need. This means poor home comfort for you, and the temperature sensors which regulate when the HVAC system turns on and off might not ever register the temperature needed to signal the system to power down. That’s another source of expense, which puts more strain on the fan motor.
Many people overlook replacing their air filters until they have become very dirty and created an issue with the air conditioning. All it takes to avoid this is spending a few minutes every few months installing a fresh filter. So we all know that it is important, and changing an air filter is one of the basic HVAC maintenance tasks that does not require a professional’s help. Unfortunately, homes don’t come with manuals, and sometimes this easy task is easier said than done. If you don’t know where your air filter is located to even begin with maintenance, read on for some help from our pros:
Location one: Look up at the ceiling!
Look for the return vents (these are larger than normal, 14×14 and bigger). Once you locate these, shine a flashlight up into the vent and see if a filter is located here. If so, there will be two latches and a hinge to open the door and remove the filter. Make sure to check the whole house, because there can be multiple locations when the filter is installed here.
Location two: Hiding in a closet.
Some indoor units are installed in closets. If this is the case, look at the bottom of the unit for a hinged door or a handle that will give you access to the filter. A tip from the experts: turn the thermostat off to make removing the filter easier.
Location three: Check the attic.
Locate the attic that the indoor unit is installed in. This can be through a pull down staircase or through a closet upstairs. Once you find the unit, look at the left or right end of it. You should see a hinged door or handle indicating where the filter is located. Some units in the attic may have an electronic air cleaner, and those can have several different types of doors. You can tell if it is an electronic air cleaner because it will usually have illuminated lights on the door.
In rare instances, filters may be located within the unit behind the bolted-on doors or in a custom made housing that isn’t easy to identify. We recommend contacting your HVAC professional if you cannot locate your filter! We are happy to come out and help.