AC Filter Replacement and Maintenance: Here’s What You Need to Know

Your air conditioner fights the Naples heat most of the year, pumping air throughout your home. Are you caring for the filter that keeps that air from filling with dust, dander, pollen, and other debris?

Learn how (and when!) to take care of your air conditioner’s filters to avoid clogging and straining your system.

Do All AC Units Have Filters?

All residential HVAC systems should have at least one filter. They remove impurities from the air, improving indoor air quality and extending the lifespan of your system. While you technically can run HVAC systems without a filter, it’s never recommended. Always have a filter installed and change them regularly to minimize the work your air conditioner needs to do to keep your Naples home cool.

How Many Filters Does an AC Unit Have?

Many homes only have one combined HVAC system (AC and heating) sharing the ducts in your home. In other words, if your home has central heating and cooling, you will likely have only one filter.

Ductless systems, however, will have a filter on every air handler. Go through the rooms in your house to make sure you know how many indoor units you have; that’s how many replacement filters you’ll need. Get in the habit of changing them all at the same time to make sure none are left dirty.

How Often Should You Change Air Conditioner Filters

At the longest, you should change your air conditioner filters once every three months. If you use a non-pleated filter, change it once a month. Other factors make it a good idea to change your filter every 30–45 days: a large household, one or more furry pets, allergies or asthma, a smoker in the home, or periods of low air quality in Naples.

Your system will work extra hard from June through September, as the temperature in Naples rises over 90°F and the humidity soars. You may need to change your filters more often during peak cooling season to match your AC’s near-constant workload.

How to Change an Air Conditioner Filter

Once you’ve penciled “change air filters” onto your to-do list, just remember to do the chore when it’s time. You may find it helpful to set a reminder on your phone!

Here’s what to do when that alert goes off …

Where Are Air Conditioner Filters Located?

The first step is finding your AC filters. Because Naples residents use the air conditioner more often than the heating in a central air system, you’ll likely find your filter next to your AC’s air handler. Look for a slot in your indoor unit, usually about one to four inches wide. It may have a cover on it to keep everything in place. There should already be a filter in your system that will tell you what size your replacement filter needs to be. You may also find filters in the return vents on your wall, floor, or ceiling, in addition to the central unit.

In a ductless system, you’ll find air filters on individual air handlers. You should be able to find the filter(s) by removing the grate or cover. The filter is usually directly underneath, sitting on the evaporator coils.

Which Way Do Air Conditioner Filters Go?

AC air filter direction depends on which way your air conditioner blows air. Most filters have arrows printed on them. Insert the filter so the arrow follows the direction of airflow through your home.

Ducted systems use air filters on the return vents or between the return duct and the central AC unit. The arrow should point further into your ducts or toward the AC machinery. Ductless mini-splits often have curved filters; keep the arrows pointed into the machine and follow the curve of the unit as you re-insert your filter.

Are AC Filters Recyclable?

You can’t simply toss your used air filter into the recycling bin for curbside pickup. However, some recycling centers will accept and recycle used air filters. Contact your air filter supplier or local recycling center to ask if your filter is recyclable.

How to Clean Air Conditioner Filters (If They’re Washable)

Some air filters are reusable; ductless systems mostly use washable air filters instead of disposable ones while central air systems may use washable or disposable filters. Clean your air filters as regularly as you would change a disposable filter.

  1. Turn off your AC to ensure it won’t run without a filter.

  2. Remove the filter from your air conditioner. Be careful not to shake excess dust into the unit or onto the floor.

  3. Gently vacuum the filter with your vacuum hose using the brush attachment to avoid damaging the filter.

  4. Use a mixture of warm water and mild soap (like detergent or dish soap) and scrub the filter gently with a soft bristle brush.

  5. Allow the filter to dry completely before re-inserting it. Don’t forget to turn your AC back on!

If you aren’t sure whether the filter you already have is reusable, replace it with a washable filter to avoid mold growing on your filter.

Schedule the Pros for Other AC Maintenance in Naples

No matter how diligent you are with your filter changing, your system has many other components that require annual maintenance. When it’s time for your annual check-up, call One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Naples for AC maintenance services. Our expert technicians have the knowledge, skills, and tools to handle a range of air conditioner issues. Book an appointment online or call us at (239) 237-3360.