Taking care of both your air conditioning and heating in Tampa, FL requires ensuring you have a clean air filter for the HVAC system. This applies during the winter as much as any other time of the year. It’s true that our heating systems don’t see much use, even during the winter, because of the Florida climate. However, in the majority of homes, the heating system shares the same air filter with the cooling system. (A furnace/AC combination or a heat pump.) Regardless of which one is running, it must have a clear filter free from clogs to allow it to work effectively and efficiently. To ensure this is the case, you must change the air filter for a new one every 1 to 3 months throughout the year.
A Reminder About the Job of the Air Filter
Before we go into the steps for changing your HVAC system’s air filter, we want to remind you what this filter does and why it’s important. It isn’t an indoor air quality filter, although it does remove a small number of pollutants from circulating through the house. What it does is protect the HVAC system’s interior from dust and other debris.
The blower of the HVAC system draws air from the house through return air ducts, and this air contains debris from the interior. The filter stops these particles from passing into the HVAC cabinet so they don’t dirty up motors and refrigerant coils, leading to damage and inefficient operation. The filter doesn’t clean out itself, so eventually, the dust and lint and other particles will clog it up. When this happens, the blower motor must work harder to draw air, and this will lead to higher energy bills and extra wear and tear. A clogged filter will also begin to distort against the air pressure, allowing debris to get past it around the sides. Depending on the filter strength, it will be congested enough to need to be changed within 1 to 3 months of operation.
Changing the Filter
It’s not difficult to put in a new filter. We’ll go through the steps here, although you can always ask your HVAC technician to show you how during fall and spring maintenance. (Putting in a new filter is part of professional maintenance.)
- Locate the filter. In most systems, it is located on the HVAC cabinet where the return air duct connects to the blower. This is usually at the bottom of the HVAC cabinet, and the filter slides into a slot.
- For some systems, the filter is located behind the vent grill over the return air vent inside the house. You will have to unscrew the grill from the vents.
- Remove the filter from the slot and put a new one in its place. Be sure the filter is facing the correct direction. A new filter has arrows along it to show how to properly line it up.
- Use a marker to write the date the new filter was put in place along its side. This makes it easier for you to know how long has passed since the new filter was put in place.
- And that’s it! Mark a calendar or set a reminder for the next time to check on the filter to replace it.