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How to Change My Air Filter | 6 Steps from Top AC Company in Milwaukee

Changing your air filter is probably the single most easy thing you can do to prevent your furnace and your wallet from dying a slow painful death. Most air filters cost less than $20 and take less than 2 minutes to change. But if DIY isn’t your jam, no worries checking your air filter is part of Capital Heating & Cooling’s furnace and furnace and AC maintenance checklist. However, maintenance visits typically happen roughly six months apart and most filters should be changed every 30-90 days, depending on your lifestyle and the type and efficiency of the air filter.

6 Easy Steps to Change Your Air Filter at Home

A woman changing an air filter.

1.   Turn your furnace off.

There should be a switch that looks like a light switch located close to your furnace. Turn it off.

A on-off switch for a furnace.

2.  Locate your filter.

Your air filter is most likely located right next to your furnace; look for a slot where an air filter should fit. What you are on the lookout for is a 1″ wide hinged or removable cover. If you have a thicker filter that is 4″ or more, the slot should match accordingly. Depending on the unit, some air filters are turned vertically or horizontally. This one is positioned vertically.

A view of the air filter's location.

3.  Pull the old filter out.

An air filter being pulled out.

4. Check to see if it’s the RIGHT FILTER!

Now this is the step many How to “Change Your Air Filter” blog posts and YouTube videos miss.  While the filter size is printed on the filter, you also measure the media cabinet (the metal box that holds the filter) to double check. It’s easy to grab a 16x24x1 instead of a 16x25x1 like this one from the store!

A tech holding an air filter.

5. Insert the replacement filter

When you slide the new filter in, it is very important the arrow marked “airflow” is pointing away from the furnace. Remember, changing your air filter and regular heating and air conditioning maintenance service are essential to healthy indoor air and ensuring your system operates efficiently!

Why Should I Change My Air Filter?

Top benefits of changing your air filter include:

  • assure good air quality in your home
  • increase the lifespan of your system
  • prevent emergency furnace or AC repair services
  • lower bills, because your furnace is using less energy

What are the Types of Air Filters?

Types of Air Filters

Important Information About Home Air Filters

The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) scale rates the air filter’s efficiency on a scale of 1-20






Disposable fiberglass made from 1″-thick spun fiberglass this basic furnace filter does little more than prevent larger particles ie. lint, dust, lint from entering your furnace system. 2-3 least expensive, good for those without allergies or asthma Has little to zero impact on cleaning the air
Disposable pleated made from cotton paper or polyester, can remove smaller particles like dust mites and mold spores and mites. 6 affordable, can be from environmentally friendly materials Needs to be changed often to prevent clogging and taxing your HVAC system. This filter option can also add more resistance to airflow which makes your HVAC system more expensive to operate
Permanent electrostatic similar to the disposable version, these attract particles using contain self-charging cotton fibers that, unlike the disposable version, these filters are removable and machine-washable, which results in a shelf life of 6-8 years. 8 environmentally friendly, more effective than pleated. custom sizes are expensive
Disposable electrostatic contains self-charging cotton fibers that trap small particles. 10 good for homes with kids, pets, or smokers. Affordable if you get a standard size regular replacement can get be costly
High-efficiency pleated made from deep 4-5″ pleated synthetic cotton, attached to a very rigid metal grid to prevent leaks or fluttering. 14-16 good for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems or autoimmune disorders. Expensive.  Not compatible with all systems due to its thick size

Regardless of what kind of air filter you choose, it’s imperative to keep it clean for optimal HVAC operation and to keep your indoor air clean.

Have questions about air filters or want to schedule air conditioning maintenance?

CALL 414.316.3467, or TEXT 414.316.3467, or contact our Milwaukee AC experts online!

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