How to Change Your Indoor Air Filter

In line with our Spring Cleaning HVAC advice, here is how you change your indoor air filter:

  1. Check the coil “condensate” drain: This drain, which is usually plastic, is located on the indoor air handler and is used to remove the moisture collected from the humid air in your home while the air conditioner is running. Since the coil’s temperature is lower than the ambient air, water from the air will condense on the coil and drip into the tray below. This condensed water needs to flow to a drain or the tray will fill up and flood the unit or potentially spill water out below your indoor unit and into your home which could cause a costly mess in a finished area. Check to make sure the line is in the proper place and has not been bumped or broken over the winter months. Inspect it to see that it will drain to the appropriate location. After start up, on a hot, humid day when your AC has been running a lot, it is a good idea to check this line again to make sure it is draining properly and not leaking.
  2. Clean the supply vents and return grills: Make sure that all supply/return air grills and vents are open and free of debris. It would also be good to use the vacuum to remove any pet hair or dust that might have accumulated during the previous season along with any obstructions which restrict proper air flow to and from your air handler. Some houses have separate winter and summer supply vents, or house zoning, and some even have separate systems – one for heating and one for cooling. If you have a system like this you might have put extra plastic material over the AC vents to prevent drafts during the colder season and through winter. If so, it is important to remove these before you turn on the AC or you will not have proper air flow back through the system and this could cause severe damage. In general, cleaning all vents at the beginning of every season is a good idea.
  3. Turn it on and make sure it works: After going through the checklist, wait for a nice, hot day when you have some time to spare. Turn the system on and check to make sure you have cool air coming out of the indoor vents for the first few minutes after starting it, and then every few hours throughout the day. After the first few minutes, you should feel cool air coming out of the registers. If no air is coming out (or if the air coming out does not feel cool), then something might be wrong and you should immediately turn the system off at the thermostat. You can go through the checklist one more time and then try it again. If the problem persists, turn the system off and call a good HVAC contractor who can diagnose the problem. Leaving the system turned on when it’s not running properly can do a lot of damage. It never hurts to ask a HVAC professional to help diagnose the problems if your system is not working properly.

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