6 steps to clean your home air filter

If you’re a fan of spring cleaning, chances are likely that you have a list of chores to do that you check off as spring turns into summer. One item that many homeowners neglect to check off their to-do list is their heating and cooling system’s air filter.

While you might not think too much of it, your HVAC system’s air filter provides you with 2 very important benefits:

  • Keeping the air in your home cleaner, reducing the buildup of dust on furniture, and enabling you to breathe a little easier.
  • It helps reduce buildup of dust and dirt on your HVAC system’s internal components so the system operates more efficiently.

Neglecting a dirty HVAC system air filter for too long can affect your comfort and the comfort of every member of your family, reduce heating and energy efficiency, make your system work harder, and in more extreme cases, cause the system to shut down completely when air flow is severely restricted.

The good news is, cleaning or replacing your home’s air filter is, in most cases, easy to do, inexpensive, and not overly time consuming. Here’s how to clean your air filter:

Locate the filter: For most heating and cooling systems, the air filter is located in your home either in a basement, utility closet or garage, attached to the blower section of your air handler (usually a furnace or fan coil).

  • Sometimes it’s inside the furnace or fan coil cabinet
  • Sometimes it’s outside the cabinet in the return air vent with its own separate access panel or door

Turn off the system: You can turn off the system using the thermostat settings, or by using the power cutoff switch typically mounted on the side of the furnace or fan coil (often looks like a light switch).

Remove & inspect the filter: Before removing the filter, ensure the system is turned off and note the direction airflow arrows are pointing, if any. Remove the filter and inspect. If there is obvious buildup of dirt or dust, or you can’t see light through the filter, it’s time to replace or clean. You can buy a replacement by contacting your local Carrier® HVAC contractor. If there is only light buildup or you can see light through the filter, use your judgment. Inexpensive, 1-inch filters should be replaced or cleaned every 2-3 months. 4-inch media filters can last up to 1 year, but should be inspected every 2-3 months.

Clean the filter: Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations, but you can usually clean a filter by gently vacuuming with a nozzle attachment. Some filters can be sprayed clean with a garden hose.

Replace the filter & cabinet door: Carefully slide the new or newly cleaned filter into place, with airflow arrows oriented properly as noted in step 3. Close or replace the air handler cabinet door or filter cabinet door.

Restore power: Turn on the system at the thermostat or using the power cutoff switch located on the side of the furnace or fan coil.

Once you get into the habit, you’ll find that heating and cooling air filter cleaning is an easy, inexpensive way to help keep your home, and your HVAC system, looking good and operating at its best. And remember to turn to your local Carrier dealer for the rest of your heating and cooling needs.