Where to Find Filters for Your Central Air Conditioner

If you're looking for the air filter in your central air conditioning system, you're in luck. In most homes, the filter housing is located right next to the air controller of the heating or cooling system. The filter normally slides into a slot above or below the HVAC unit. Other HVAC systems may have the filter behind the return air grille on the wall, ceiling, or utility cabinet door.

It's usually close to your home thermostat, in a return duct, or right next to the air controller in your air conditioning system. Sometimes, especially with older systems, the filter is located inside the oven itself, next to the fan motor. And some systems have a central filter grille installed on the wall or ceiling. The grille opens and reveals the air filter.

In some systems, the filters are located in the return air duct. This is the one that returns the air from your space to the air conditioner's air treatment system. If you have a large system with multiple air controllers and return ducts, finding the filters can be a challenge. When you open the cover of that slot on your air controller, you should see an existing filter inside. An arrow on the filter frame shows the direction in which air must flow through the filter, which is always away from the return air duct and towards the air treatment mechanism.

The air filter may be located at the bottom of a vertical upflow system and at the top of a vertical downflow system. When in doubt, it's best to ask your HVAC technician to provide you with the correct filters or to show you filter size information so you can order them yourself. If you don't have a regular HVAC service technician, you've probably neglected other important maintenance tasks besides changing your air conditioning filters. Replacing your home's air conditioner filter will allow it to continue to blow cold air without interruption. Households that have a lot of occupants and pets will likely find that their air filters need to be replaced more often. Just tell your technician that you want to learn how to change an air conditioning filter and he can show you where it's located, how to remove and insert it, and how to get the correct filters for your system. When a clogged filter prevents enough air from flowing through your system, dust and dirt begin to enter it, causing parts to wear and tear.

To avoid this problem, make sure that when you reinsert the filter into its housing, its arrow points in the opposite direction of the return and is directed toward the air controller.