5 Ways to Change an Air Filter

5 ways to change an air filter


When investing the time to care for the most expensive appliance in your home it is always best to start with the easiest task which is learning how to install an air filter. There are of course many different types and sizes of air filters and therefor many different ways to change or maintain your indoor air quality. We will discuss the most common types of home air filters, when they need to be replaced and which ones to buy when you need to replace them.

Some HVAC systems use electronic air cleaners or permanent air filters that need to be cleaned while most use disposable air filters that need to be replaced. Which is better? How often should I be maintaining my air filters? And what are my other options?

Below is a list of the many different types of air filters available on the market, how to locate yours and how to maintain them. I will also discuss their pro’s and cons to help you decide which type of air filter is right for you. Our goal is to help you get into a regular air filtration and HVAC maintenance routine to help you breathe better and save money. To learn more about why you need to care about healthy air click here.


1. Air Filter in the Ceiling or Wall Grille

This is usually the easiest way to find or rule out where your air filter is. Look for the large air vents in your house. In smaller condos you may only find one large vent but in most houses you may find 2-3 in an average sized home and many more in larger homes. Air “sucks” in through these vents when the system is running so if it is actually on currently you should not feel any air blowing out of them, but you will hear air flow. You could do the “technician test” and pull a dollar bill out of your wallet to see if it holds or blows away from the vent with everything running. Once you are sure you are staring at a return grille search the perimeter for hinges. Likely you will see the four screws mounting the grille to the wall or ceiling. You might also see hinges and/or clasps on the return air grille, and if so- chances are there is an air filter inside. Undo the clasps and open the filter grille to remove the air filter from each return grille and replace with like for like sizes. If you would like to know what is the best filter type for your home click here for a through breakdown about MERV ratings.

2. Air Filter Located within the HVAC Equipment Itself

Yes, almost every manufacturer has a dedicated slot built in to house a 1″ wide air filter that can range from odd Carrier air handler sizes like 13.5×21.5×1 to popular sizes like 20x20x1. If it is a gas furnace you will likely have to remove doors with screws to find your air filter. And you could do all of that just to find it empty because the filter is in a different location (let’s hope it is in a different location if it is empty). Since there are many different manufacturers and therefor many different locations they could be in let’s try to narrow it down by checking other areas first, before we bust out any tools. If your HVAC system is connected to large return air ducting you may notice a slot cut directly into the duct work. This slot could be an open 1″ wide slot that goes from top to bottom or there could be a door or panel that covers this 1″ opening. You may also have a much larger box mounted onto your duct system that could either house a large media air filter or electronic air cleaner.

3. Media Air Cleaner located in Duct Work

If you are near the indoor portion of your HVAC system scan the duct work for something attached that could house a wide, 3-6″ air filter. You may notice a large door roughly 16-20″ tall/long that has a brand name on it like: Aprilaire, Trion, Carrier, Trane or Honeywell. If so, then you need to remove this door to pull out your current filter to look for a size or model number that you can match up in our store. Most Honeywell replacement air filters are either 16x25x5 or 20x25x5. The rest vary but we stock all sizes and can make custom filters to fit any size opening.

4. Electronic Air Cleaner Maintenance

If you do not have air filters in the ceiling or wall then the filter has to be inside the HVAC system or in the duct work. Electronic air cleaners can be in either location. You can find electronic air cleaners that fit into 1″ factory air filter slots and the more popular 5-12″ electronic air cleaners mounted in your duct system. When you find whichever filter fits in your system, unplug or turn the power switch off before removing the components. Depending on the type the parts may either need to be cleaned and/or replaced. Locate the manufacturer name and model number. Google has most owners and maintenance manuals just a few clicks away if you have the proper make and model. If you are unable to find any info but you are sure it is an electronic air cleaner reach out to us here and we would be more than glad to help.

5. How to Replace Air Filters in a Heat Pump system

Most air filters in a heat pump system are located within the HVAC equipment whether it be an air-handler or package heat pump system. Meaning there is a factory designation for the air filter location to protect the equipment. Some applications will not use this slot and use return air filter grilles instead. Start by checking your return grilles for hinges or clasps. If you do not see any then find the filter door on your air handler. The door should be the width of your air handler and about 1″ tall. Some filter doors use screws and others use plastic clasps. Carrier for instance mainly uses black plastic tabs should push inwards (towards each other) to remove and outwards (away from each other) to lock back in place. They also use very odd filter sizes that you normally can’t find at the hardware store. But that is where we come in. We stock all Carrier filter sizes, just enter your size into the search bar or reach out to us if you can’t find it. Trane uses several different types of filter door screws and clasps. I’ve seen them use regular screws that you need a screwdriver for, round cogged-gear like wheels that you can spin on and off with your fingers and tabs that lift up to remove and press down to lock the door back on. Why every manufacturer needs to be different beats me…


If you have checked everywhere and still have difficulties finding your air filter or you have any other questions, leave us a comment or give us a call. We are always happy to help when it comes to cleaner air.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *