HVAC Return Air Filter Explained

By | March 2, 2023

HVAC return air filter
Return air filters are a necessary part of an HVAC system to keep particles from clogging up a unit.

They also keep the air clean inside a home by filtering out small debris.

What is an HVAC Return Air Filter?

A Return Air Filter keeps dust and other debris from entering a heating and cooling system and working properly.

Air must cycle through an HVAC unit to work heating and cooling a home.
What is a HVAC Return Air Filter
Air is blown into a home through the vents and pulled into the unit through what is called a Return Air.

The same air is cycled through a house and unit repeatedly, cooling or heating the air.

During the air cycle, it passes through what is called the condenser and evaporator coil.
What is a HVAC Return Air Filter Overview
Both the condenser and the evaporator are much like a car radiator that air must pass through to blow out hot air or blow in cool air.

The condenser blows the hot air away from a unit while the evaporator cools the air as it passes through and blows air into a home through the vents.

When the Return air filter gets dirty or the evaporator coils become clogged, no air can pass through the unit, which will often cause it to form ice, letting even less air through and stopping the unit from working correctly.

What is an HVAC Return Filter For?

A Return air filter is essential to keeping an HVAC unit working properly.
What is an HVAC Return Filter For
Changing out the filter should be done routinely. It will depend on the area as to how often, for example, in desert locations, because all the dust sometimes requires the filter to be changed weekly, most often though once a month is standard.

How to Replace a Return Air Filter

Changing a Return air filter is simple enough; it is most often a large grill that is located on the ceiling or a wall.
How To Replace a Return Air Filter
A hallway is the usual location, but it may be located somewhere else. A ladder will often be needed to reach it and unlatch the door that will expose the filter.

How to Buy a Return Air Filter

The dimensions of the filter will be needed to buy another one. The size of the filter is measured by inches in width and length.

For example, a 24X16 Return air filter is 24 inches long by 16 inches wide.

Almost all filters will have the dimensions clearly labeled.

A Return Air filter can be bought at local hardware stores or online with Amazon and eBay.

Category: HVAC how to

About Aaron H. Benetti

Aaron H. Benetti has worked in the HVAC field since 1991. He began his career as an HVAC installer and later began doing troubleshooting and repairs. Around 2010, he began to write books on HVAC topics, mainly tutorials and how-to information. Currently, Aaron writes many articles and posts for websites as well as books and videos on HVAC topics.

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