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a dirty HVAC filter

Although the shelter in place or “safer at home” orders could be lifted soon, we’re still spending more and more time indoors. Due to this, it’s important that you are breathing clean air—and this starts with ensuring that your HVAC filter is clean and to regularly change it out. Additionally, it’s spring and the weather is beginning to warm up fast, especially in Southern California. HVAC filter changes are part of integral maintenance to ensure you’ll have clean, cool air during the hottest months of the year. While our expert technicians at Carter Services are more than happy to assist you with any filter changes, it’s also a good idea to learn how to change them yourself just in case.

Why It’s Necessary to Change Your HVAC Filter

No matter how much you clean your home, dust and debris are still present and can get into your HVAC system. The purpose of an air filter is to help protect your HVAC unit’s lifespan and efficiency by preventing such particles from clogging it. The longer you go without changing your filter, the dirtier it becomes until it can no longer effectively prevent the particles from entering your HVAC system and causing more than standard wear and tear on its parts and components. This means you could soon experience a breakdown, which is the last thing you want during the triple digit temperature summers in Torrance. According to ENERGY STAR, you should check your filter once a month, especially when you’re running your AC constantly.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Change Your Filter

Our expert technicians have broken down the filter change process into three easy steps for you.

Step One: Locate the Filter

Replacing your filter yourself is a relatively simple task, but the most difficult step is locating where your filter is located on your specific unit. It could be that your filter is located in your return air duct, or if your AC and furnace share ducts, the filter could be located near your furnace’s blower system. If you’re ever unsure, just ask one of our expert technicians to point it out to you during your next tune-up or service. This will help you know for future reference, so you won’t have to call a service tech out once a month just to change your filter.

Step Two: Ensure You Have the Proper Filter

Sometimes, the filter size is listed right on your current one. However, you can always ask one of our HVAC specialists to tell you what size filter is appropriate for your unit during your next tune-up or service. It’s also important to consider which type of filter you want. If you want to filter out more than just debris and dust, such as pollen, mold, bacteria, or other contaminants, a HEPA filter with a MERV rating of 10 or higher would be your best solution.

Step Three: Replace the Filter

For your safety and that of your system, ensure that your HVAC unit is powered off before you begin. This prevents you from getting shocked and it also prevents dirt and debris from getting sucked into your unit.

Next, slide out your old filter and check its condition. If it’s dirty or clogged, it’s time to either clean or replace it. Because we live in a high smog area, it’s typically for filters to get clogged and need to be replaced sooner than the time recommended by the manufacturer.

If your filter is made from cheaper materials, such as a cardboard frame and a mesh or paper surface, chances are it’s disposable. However, there are reusable filters made from sturdier materials that can be cleaned via vacuuming the dust away or rinsing with cold water and air drying. However, it’s best to check with the manufacturer for proper cleaning instructions.

When inserting your new (or newly cleaned) filter, check for the arrow on the frame to help you know which way to place it back into your HVAC unit.

If your furnace and AC unit have separate filters, it’s best to change them both at the same time.

Don’t Forget to Schedule Routine HVAC Maintenance

If you don’t have a service technician you can ask about filters, chances are that you haven’t been getting necessary routine maintenance to ensure that all of your HVAC unit’s parts and components are working properly and are in good condition. This will help your system work more efficiently and will help save you money on your monthly utility bills. It will also prevent unwanted breakdowns and extend the life of your equipment.

During your next AC tune-up, we can inspect your filter and provide you with the information you need to change it yourself in the future. Call (310) 872-1898 or contact us online.