How to Change Air Filters on Your HVAC System

dirty air filter

Highwood Mechanical, LLC. serves all of CT and specializes in New Haven County, and Middlesex County.

You know that you should change your HVAC filters on a regular basis, but how often do you really need to go through that process? And, how easy is it to change your HVAC filter? Regular home maintenance involves a variety of tasks that we often try to push off when possible. Unfortunately, delaying changing your HVAC filter can result in additional expenses. Keep reading to learn how to change your filter for your HVAC system.

How often should you change your HVAC filters?

It is important to have heating and air conditioning contractors check your unit every year. They can identify issues like cracked or dry belts, gapped ductwork, or rusted components. It is best to leave these bigger issues and fixes to professional HVAC contractors. However, changing your air filter is a simple task that can be done without the help of a professional.

It is generally recommended that you change your filter once every three months if it is used year-round. There are also many circumstances where it may be necessary to change your filter more often depending on your usage. In some cases, you may need to change your filter once a month, including the following:

  • Your unit is run six months to a year
  • Pets live in your home
  • Many people live in your home
  • You smoke inside
  • You suffer from allergies
  • You have a respiratory condition
  • You live in a windy area
  • Your area is prone to wildfires
  • A fireplace is in your home
  • You live on a ranch or farm
  • You keep a large garden
  • Construction is happening near your home

There are also some instances when it is necessary to change your filter immediately, regardless of its age. A filter can be damaged in the packaging or during installation, which results in bent fins or collapsed cells. These will not work as efficiently, and you should replace the filter. If your filter is damp, it is important to change it immediately to avoid spreading airborne mold spores.

What materials do you need for HVAC installation?

Changing your HVAC filter does not require a lot of tools or materials, and you likely already have many of these supplies at home. It is important to locate your manual or find a copy of your HVAC manual online. This will help you locate your filter and make the process much easier. Other materials include:

  • A screwdriver to remove the screws from the lid
  • A container to keep the screws in a safe place while you work
  • A duster, vacuum, or cleaning supplies to clean your cover
  • A large trash bag to hold your old filter
  • A new filter for replacement

Which filter should you purchase?

There are different types of filters available, and you can check your manual for guidance on selecting the right filter. The type of filter you choose will also depend on your needs and usage of your HVAC system. Some of the common types of filters include:

  • Fiberglass air filters: These are affordable but have the lowest straining ability.
  • Pleated filters: These are able to filter dust and pollutants, but more pleats provide better filtering.
  • Washable filters: These cost more but can be cleaned instead of replaced regularly.
  • Electrostatic filters: These use an electrostatic charge to remove dust and particles from your home.
  • High efficiency particulate air filters: These can screen up to 99.97% of contaminants and are ideal for people with respiratory issues.
  • UV filters: These use UV lights to eliminate bacteria, but they do not screen dust as well.

What are the steps for changing your HVAC?

Once you have your materials and air filter, it is time to change out your current filter. With the help of your manual, you can change your HVAC filter in no time. Follow these steps for a smooth switch out.

  1. Turn your HVAC system off to prevent air from moving while you work.
  2. Locate your filter with the help of your manual.
  3. Remove the screws holding your lid or filter in place. Be sure to keep these in a container so you can use them again.
  4. Remove the cover if applicable and thoroughly clean it before continuing.
  5. Take out your old filter and put it in a large trash bag. This will keep dust and dirt from tracking in your home. If you have a washable filter, you can still use a trash bag to take your filter outside for cleaning.
  6. Reference the arrows on your new filter to properly install the new filter.
  7. Write the date on your new filter so you know when it was last changed.
  8. Replace the lid and screws if necessary.


The more times you change your HVAC filter, the easier it will be. For any other issues with your HVAC system, it is important to contact heating and air conditioning contractors for support. If you are looking for premium HVAC services in Connecticut, Highwood Mechanical is your answer. Contact us today for more information on HVAC services.