How to Find the Air Filter for the HVAC System in Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

I can’t find the air filter in the HVAC unit in the home we just bought. Do all central heating and cooling units have filters? -Paula

Hi Paula,

All central heating and cooling systems should have an air filter, but the filter can be harder to locate on some HVAC units than others. The air filter is usually located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the air handler. This allows the filter to clean the air coming from your house before it enters the HVAC unit.

Common locations for air filters in HVAC units include:

  • On horizontal HVAC units with the return duct attached to the side of the air handler, the filter often fits in a slot on the return air (intake) side of the unit.
  • On vertical air handlers with the return air duct entering on the top of the air handler, the filter often slides into a slot above the HVAC unit.
  • On vertical air handlers with the return air duct entering below the air handler, the filter often fits in a slot located below the HVAC unit.
  • On other HVAC systems, the air filter may be located behind the return air grill on a wall in your home.
  • On HVAC systems with a return in each room, there may be an air filter behind each of the return grills.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

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6 Comments on “How to Find the Air Filter for the HVAC System in Your Home”

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  • Zequek Estrada Says:
    October 10th, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Danny, you’re a life saver. I was panicking since I’ve had a similar problem as Paula. It’s comforting to learn that it might just be harder to locate the right kind of air filter.



  • Debbie Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    do I really need in line vertical air filter and room wall inlet filters. the in line filter is 4inches thick and each room filter is 3/4 inch thick. isn’t this too many. all I need is the in line filter?



  • kile Says:
    May 5th, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I wont to know if I have a filter on my AC air handler that is located in my atac which is separate from my condenser unit. I do have two return ducts that do have filters. but im not sure if the air handler its self may have a separate filter that also should be changed every season the hole unit is only 4 years old. THANK YOU I hope you can help me and may be give me and idea of where it is located



  • Jim Coker Says:
    January 23rd, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I can’t seem to find the air filters on the horizontal gas heat unit in my crawl space. I did see grill panels with wires and tubing but nothing that looks like it belongs to a filter function. I did find filters inside the house. I called the Goodman Mfg. and they have no clue. The unit was made in 2000 and don’t know who installed it…any ideas?



  • Buddy Says:
    February 13th, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Danny,
    Wife and I having a few allergy problems. We have Aprilaire filters installed on both hvac units. I have made a visual inspection of vents and returns and they seem pretty clean. Recently had one of the hvac units replaced.Should I have vents cleaned? I’ve seem so much negative information about this that I not sure whether to invest money in it.



  • Tony Tewell Says:
    September 10th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I have a heat pump central heat and air system in my new home; it’s located in the attic. The return vent in the ceiling has a filter. When I inspected the unit, I noticed a slot for a filter there too. Should I place a filter in the unit as well?


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