Changing furnace filters is easy, even if you’ve never changed one before

changing furnace filters

Changing furnace filters is not as daunting as it seems, and it’s an essential task to maintain good quality air and keep your furnace running efficiently. Over time, these filters accumulate dust and other airborne particles, which can negatively affect your health and increase your energy bills.

Imagine living in a home with fresher, cleaner air, and saving money on heating and cooling costs. All it takes is the easy task of changing your dirty filter regularly. No more sneezing from dust particles or worrying about an overworked furnace!

Don’t wait for your air quality to degrade. Grab a new air filter, and use our simple, step-by-step guide to changing furnace filters today – it’s easier than you think!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Improved Indoor Air Quality: Regularly changing furnace filters can significantly improve the quality of air circulating within your home. This reduces the risk of respiratory problems caused by airborne dust particles, mold spores, airborne particulates and contaminants.
  2. Energy Efficiency: A clean filter allows the HVAC unit to run more efficiently, reducing energy consumption and, consequently, your utility bills.
  3. Easy Maintenance: It is a simple task that doesn’t require professional intervention. This guide provides an easy, step-by-step process to replace your furnace filters without any hassle.

Why change your furnace filter?

Changing furnace filters is the process of removing and replacing the existing filter in your heating system. This task is fundamental to the upkeep of the HVAC system, ensuring optimal operation by maintaining clean airflow and preventing the system from straining due to accumulated dust and debris.

The frequency of replacement varies depending on the type of filter and the airflow in your residence, but a general rule of thumb is to change it out every 90 days. This preventative maintenance task is a cost-effective way to improve your indoor air quality, enhance your furnace’s efficiency, and extend its lifespan.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Change Your Furnace Filter

In this guide, we will walk you through an easy-to-follow, 8-step process that will help you be successful in changing furnace filters. This procedure has been designed to be simple and quick to follow, ensuring that even if this is your first time, you’ll be able to change your filter effectively.

The steps involve preparing your workspace, identifying your current filter, purchasing the right replacement, and installing the new filter properly. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to perform this essential maintenance task with confidence.

  1. What kind of filter do you have?
  2. What size is your filter?
  3. What are Merv Ratings?
  4. Where to buy?
  5. Date stamp!
  6. Remove and replace
  7. Disposal
  8. Mark it on your calendar

Now that we’ve established the importance of changing your filter and provided a brief rundown of the steps involved, let’s delve into the full tutorial.

What kind of filter do you have?

To identify the type of air filter you have, start by turning off your furnace for safety. Then, locate the service panel – this is usually on the bottom half of the furnace. Open the service panel and you will find the filter inside.

There are several types of filters including disposable fiberglass filters, disposable pleated high-efficiency filters, and permanent reusable filters. Take note of the type of filter you have as you will need to replace it with a similar one. This is a crucial step as different filter types have different efficiencies and lifespans, playing a significant role in the quality of your indoor air and the efficiency of your furnace.

What size is your filter

To determine the size of your filter, all you need is a simple tape measure. Once you have removed the filter from the furnace, measure its length, width, and depth, as all three dimensions are critical for ensuring a perfect fit. Most filters have the size marked on the cardboard frame.

Common filter sizes are listed in inches, for example, 16x25x1 or 20x25x1. However, if the measurements are not visible or have faded, manual measurement is the way to go. Always double-check your measurements to avoid buying the wrong size. Remember, an incorrectly sized replacement filter can lead to poor air quality and furnace performance issues.

What are Merv Ratings?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a standard that rates the overall effectiveness of air filters. A higher rating means finer filtration, capturing more and smaller particulate matter. Ratings range from 1 (least efficient) to 16 (most efficient).

When choosing a furnace filter, the MERV rating is an important factor to consider. It’s essential to find a balance between air purification and maintaining a good airflow as filters with very high ratings can sometimes impede airflow due to their fine filtration system.

To identify the rating of your filter, simply look at the product specifications on the packaging or the manufacturer’s website. If you’re replacing an old filter, its rating will most likely be printed on the filter itself. Remember, selecting a filter with the right rating can significantly improve your home’s air quality and the efficiency of your furnace.

Buying Your Furnace Filter

You can buy new filters at most home improvement stores, or even online. It’s important to have the correct filter size and desired MERV rating at hand to ensure you purchase the right filter. When shopping online, you can utilize the filter option on the website to narrow down your search according to your specific requirements.

Once you’ve found the right filter, add it to your shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Always double-check the product specifications before finalizing your purchase. If you’re buying from a physical store, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from store staff if you’re unsure about any product details. Remember to keep the receipt in case you need to return or exchange the filter. And just like that, you’ve taken the first major step to change your furnace filter.

Date Stamping Your New Filter

Before you install your new filter, it’s recommended to date stamp it. This is a simple yet effective way to keep track of when the filter was last replaced and can assist in maintaining a regular filter change schedule. To date stamp your filter, all you need is a permanent marker. Write the current date on the cardboard frame of the filter. Make sure to place the date in a location that will be easily visible when the filter is installed. Remember, consistency in changing furnace filters is key to maintaining optimal air quality and furnace efficiency.

Changing the Furnace Filter

changing furnace filters

Now that you have your new furnace filter, it’s time to change the old one. First, make sure your furnace is turned off for safety reasons. Locate the service panel on your furnace, it’s usually on the lower half of the unit. Remove the panel – it may either slide off or need to be unscrewed.

Here you’ll find the old filter, typically housed in a slot near the blower motor. Slide the old filter out, taking note of its direction – most filters have an arrow indicating the proper airflow direction. Typically points towards the furnace.

Now, slide in the new filter, ensuring the arrows are pointing in the same direction as the old one. Reattach the service panel, turn the furnace back on, and you’re done!

You’ve successfully changed your furnace filter. Ensure you change it regularly, at least every 90 days, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Regular maintenance not only keeps your furnace running efficiently but also contributes to cleaner, healthier air in your home.

Disposal of the old filter

Disposing of the old dirty filter is the final step in the process. Start by sealing the old filter in a plastic bag to prevent any dust or allergens from escaping. Next, check with your local waste management facility or your city’s regulations regarding furnace filter disposal. Some areas may allow you to dispose of it with your regular trash, while others may require specific disposal methods for environmental reasons. Always make sure to handle the old filter with gloves to avoid direct contact with accumulated particles. Lastly, wash your hands thoroughly after handling the old filter. This simple yet crucial step ensures the cleanliness of your living environment and completes the process of changing your furnace filter.

Schedule regular changes

To maintain an efficient and healthy HVAC system, it’s imperative to schedule regular filter changes. As a rule of thumb, replace your filter every 90 days. However, if you have pets or anyone in your household has allergies, aim for every 60 days.

To execute this, choose a memorable date – for instance, the first day of a new season. Mark it on your calendar, set reminders on your phone, or use any digital tool you’re comfortable with to help you remember. By doing so, you’re ensuring the ongoing efficiency of your HVAC system and the consistent cleanliness of your home’s air quality.

Key Considerations For Success

One of the key considerations when changing your existing air filter is choosing the right replacement. Filters differ in size and quality, so always check your furnace’s specifications or the existing filter’s measurements before purchasing a new one. Secondly, consider the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating, which indicates the filter’s ability to trap air particles. A higher MERV rating means finer filtration, but also more strain on your furnace. Balance air quality goals with the capabilities of your system.

Finally, remember that regular maintenance extends beyond merely changing the filter. Periodically have your furnace system professionally inspected to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Taking it to the Next Level

To elevate your furnace maintenance practices beyond simple filter changes, consider investing in a smart thermostat. These devices offer convenience and efficiency by allowing you to control your home’s temperature from your smartphone. Some models even learn your heating habits over time and preset themselves accordingly, resulting in energy savings.

Another step to consider is the installation of an air purifier or humidifier as an adjunct to your HVAC system. These devices can improve the quality of air significantly, especially during winter when indoor air tends to be dry. They can also alleviate symptoms for allergy sufferers and reduce the spread of airborne diseases. They also have air filters that you can check every month.

Lastly, for those who are willing to invest more in their home’s air supply and furnace efficiency, consider upgrading your furnace to a high-efficiency model. These furnaces are more energy efficient, contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, and can result in significant long-term savings on your energy bills. This investment goes beyond mere maintenance and into the realm of upgrading, contributing to a greener and more comfortable future for your home.

Alternatives to changing the filter yourself

If you’re uncomfortable or unable to change it yourself, there are several alternatives available. One option is to hire a professional HVAC service. These experts can change the filter, conduct a full system inspection, and address any other maintenance needs. Another option is to request assistance from a knowledgeable friend or family member. If you live in an apartment or rented property, furnace maintenance may be the responsibility of your landlord or property manager, so be sure to check your rental agreement. Remember, regular furnace maintenance is essential for efficient operation and good, clean air in your home, so if you can’t do it yourself, don’t hesitate to seek help.


Ensuring the upkeep of your furnace and its filter is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment in your home. Not only does it improve the quality of air, but it enhances the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, contributing to energy conservation and cost savings. Even if you’ve never changed a furnace filter before, this task is manageable with the right tools and instructions.

However, if you’re unable to change the filter yourself, it’s important to seek professional help or assistance from others. Remember, the benefits of regular furnace maintenance extend beyond immediate comfort — it’s a commitment to a cleaner and more energy-efficient future for your home. Investing a little time and effort now could reap significant rewards in the long run.


How often should I change my furnace filter?

The frequency of changing depends on the type of your filter, the quality of air in your home, and whether any household members have allergies. In general, it’s recommended to change basic 1-2-inch filters every three months. Thicker filters like the 4-inch filters every six months, and 5-inch filters every 12 months. Check the furnace filter monthly for pet hair or other debris.

Can I clean and reuse my furnace filter?

While some are reusable, most are not. It’s crucial to know the type you have. If you have a reusable one, it can be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However, disposable filters should be replaced entirely.

What happens if I don’t change my furnace filter?

Neglecting to change it can lead to several problems, including reduced airflow, strain on the heating and cooling system, increased energy use, and a decrease in air quality in your home due to the accumulation of dust and allergens. In the worst-case scenario, you would have to change furnace blower compartment motor.

How do I know the correct size of my furnace filter?

The size is typically printed on the side of the filter itself. It’s listed as X- length X- width X- thickness. If you can’t find the size, you can measure it manually using a tape measure.

Is it difficult to change a furnace filter?

Changing furnace filters is a relatively simple task that most homeowners can handle on their own. It primarily involves locating the air filter, removing the old, dirty filter, and correctly inserting the new replacement filter. Make sure to check your HVAC owner’s manual for any specific instructions for your heating system (including the air conditioner).

Sign up for our monthly newsletter that includes a monthly home maintenance checklist.

Similar Posts