Skip to Content

Maintenance Matters: How To Change And Clean Your HVAC Filters

Your HVAC system is more than a mere convenience—it’s a vital component of your home or business environment. Whether against the scorching summer heat or the biting winter cold, you depend on your HVAC system to maintain a comfortable and safe indoor climate. 

The health of your system hinges mainly on a simple yet critical component—the HVAC filter. While it may seem like a minor detail in the complex machinery of your HVAC system, the role of the filter is vital. 

A clean, well-maintained filter not only boosts the efficiency and lifespan of the system but also ensures a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment. Therefore, mastering the basic maintenance steps, including changing and cleaning the HVAC filters, becomes indispensable. 

Understanding HVAC Filter Types 

Before delving into maintenance, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the variety of HVAC filter types available in the market. From budget-friendly fiberglass filters to high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, your selection depends on your unique needs and HVAC system specifications. 

For instance, fiberglass filters are lightweight, disposable, and effective at trapping larger particles like dust and lint. But, if you seek something more comprehensive, pleated filters might be a superior fit. They capture not only large particles but smaller ones like pollen and pet dander as well. HEPA filters set the bar for maximum filtration, removing up to 99.97% of airborne particles. 

Your choice of filter influences maintenance frequency. Lower-efficiency filters might require more frequent replacement, while higher-efficiency filters can endure longer. Thus, understanding your HVAC filter type is the first step toward effective maintenance. 

Choosing The Right HVAC Filter 

Choosing the right HVAC filter isn’t as simple as picking the first one off the shelf. One critical factor to consider is the filter size—it should be a perfect fit for your HVAC system. 

Another important aspect is the filter’s Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. The MERV rating denotes the number of particles a filter can trap. A higher MERV rating indicates a more efficient filter. 

However, remember that a higher MERV rating doesn’t always mean it’s better for your system. An overly efficient filter might restrict airflow and overtax your HVAC system. Always refer to your HVAC system’s manual for the recommended MERV rating. 

When And How To Change Your Filter 

Recognizing when to change your HVAC filter is just as crucial as knowing how to do it. As a general rule, a filter should be changed every 90 days, but this can vary based on conditions. 

Homes with pets or residents with allergies might require more frequent changes—every 30 to 60 days. It’s a wise practice to inspect your filter monthly and replace it if it looks dirty. First, turn off your HVAC system for safety to change the filter.  

Then, find and carefully remove the old filter—note its orientation to install the new one correctly. Finally, insert the new filter and restart your system. Be sure to check your system’s manual for specific instructions, as systems can differ. 


Cleaning Your HVAC Filter 

Regularly cleaning your HVAC filters is critical, mainly if the filters are not disposable. A good rule of thumb is to inspect the filter every month. If it appears dirty, then it’s time for a cleaning. 

Start by turning off your HVAC system and carefully removing the filter. Then, gently tap the filter to remove any loose particles. If the dust buildup is significant, a vacuum might be needed for a more thorough cleaning. 

Lastly, if your filter is washable, rinse it with warm water. Refrain from using soap or detergents, as they can harm the filter. Ensure the filter is completely dry before reinserting it to prevent mold and bacteria growth. 

Scheduled HVAC Maintenance 

While you can perform individual maintenance tasks such as changing or cleaning your filter, scheduling professional HVAC maintenance at least once a year is highly recommended. This regular maintenance isn’t merely about inspecting the filter; it includes a comprehensive review of your entire system. 

Professional HVAC technicians will scrutinize your system, identify potential issues, and offer solutions before these problems become serious. This proactive approach to maintenance prevents unexpected, costly breakdowns. 

In addition to spotting potential problems, scheduled maintenance can enhance your system’s performance. A well-maintained HVAC system operates efficiently and prolongs the system’s lifespan. It’s a minor investment that yields significant returns in the long run. 


Your HVAC system’s overall health and efficiency rely heavily on proper filter maintenance. By comprehending the various HVAC filter types, being aware of the timing and procedure for changing or cleaning your filter, and opting for scheduled professional care, you can extend your system’s life, save energy costs, and create a healthier indoor environment. 

Proper HVAC filter maintenance isn’t just about the system—it’s about your comfort, health, and savings. 


Jeff Campbell