For your HVAC system to work properly and efficiently, cleanliness of all components are vital. From the air conditioner filter to outdoor condenser unit and evaporator coils, every part needs to work in harmony. Problems like a dirty filter can create strain on the other parts of the system and shorten its lifespan. However, you can avoid problems simply with a consistent schedule of replacing or cleaning the HVAC filter. Here are some simple tips to help you clean up the filter.

  • Turn Off the HVAC System

It is never a good idea to run your HVAC system without a filter. So it’s important to shut down the system even when checking the condition of the filter. The filter itself can be found behind the return vent. Keep in mind that in large homes, there’s typically several return vents where each has their own filter. When checking or replacing a filter, you will need to unscrew the vent cover or use the release handle. This will allow you to remove the filter, be very gentle to guard against damage or re-releasing the contained dust. 

  • Visually Inspect the Air Conditioner Filter

After gently sliding the HVAC filter out, thoroughly look it over for any discoloration or visible dust and other debris. If you notice a darker tint of gray, then the filter needs to be cleaned or discarded and replaced.

If you would rather use disposable filters instead of reusable ones, you can skip the cleaning process and simply toss out the old filter. Before taking out the filter, have a trash bag ready to help reduce potential messes. In addition, to avoid buying the wrong one, don’t forget to check the size on your old HVAC filter.

  • Vacuum / Wash the Reusable AC Filter

Use the attachment head of your vacuum to remove the majority of loose debris and dust trapped in the filter. Depending on its condition, you may need to take the filter outside for cleaning. Be sure to handle it carefully and visually inspect the filter for any holes. If any are found, it is time to replace it as dust and debris can enter the ventilation system through any openings.

After removing most of the dirt, check both sides to see which side is darker. Doing so will help you find the direction that the air (and debris) moves through the filter. Have the darker side facing downward and run warm water through the filter from the backside. This will help remove more dirt without pushing it into the filter further.

  • Allow Time for Filter to Dry

Once the filter has been cleaned up, prop it up to dry. The air conditioner filter needs to be completely and thoroughly dried out. If not, mold will start to grow on the filter and spread throughout the ventilation system. While you can attempt to dry the filter using a hair dryer, this can be very tricky. Even using the “cool” setting, the hot air can still burn and damage the filter if you aren’t careful.

  • Slide Air Conditioner Filter Back Into Place

With a new HVAC filter or a cleaned reusable filter, merely push it back into place. Take note of the arrows on the filter which direct which way the filter needs to face. These arrows need to face away from you and toward the unit. Once the HVAC filter and vent cover is back into place, it’s time to start up the system again.

Satterlee’s HVAC Filter Tips

There are many reasons for homeowners to regularly clean or replace their filters. Keeping the filter clean not only helps with filtering the air, but it also helps reduce the strain on your system. While homeowners typically replace filters every 3 months, it all depends on your home’s unique conditions. Your filter may need more attention if you have pets, allergies, or problems with dust. So it’s important to keep track of the dates. You can do this by making a notification on your phone or writing it down on the calendar. If you use disposable filters, you can even write down the date on the cardboard frame. If you have any questions, reach out to our HVAC professionals at Satterlee today!