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Five Tips for Properly Disposing of an Old Air Filter


Your home air filter is perhaps one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. So many of the issues that could cause your system to slow down or stop working entirely can be attributed, at least partially, to an old or clogged up air filter, so regularly changing your filter is an important part of home maintenance. However, once you change your air filter, your old furnace air filter may release dirt and debris back into the air in your home, which could lessen your indoor air quality.

This brings up a question that many people want to know the answer to: how should you properly dispose of an old air filter? Air filters have the benefit of being disposable in your regular trash, but what can you do to prevent all of the airborne debris trapped in the filter from escaping again as soon as you move it? Here are a few disposal tips you can follow.

Immediately Put Your Old Filter Into a Plastic Bag

The first and most important thing you need to do with your old HVAC air filter is contain it to trap all of the dust and debris. A plastic trash bag is a great way to do this. Have a plastic bag ready when you go to change out your air filter and immediately put your old filter into this bag when you remove it from on your furnace or intake vent. Once the filter is inside, tie up the bag to trap as much of the dust and debris inside as possible. Do your best to not shake or bump the filter in the bag too much.

Don’t Shake a Dirty Air Filter

Air filters can appear to be dirty, but what you see may only be a portion of the dirt and debris one of these filters can contain. Most of this dirt and debris can be rather easily unsettled, particularly if you shake the air filter or bang it against something. Do your best to avoid doing this. In addition to visible dirt and debris, you may also be releasing a number of microscopic particles into the air, including mold spores, bacteria, viruses, and other things that could have been trapped in the filter up until that point. Do yourself a favor: quickly put your old filter into a plastic bag and avoid any sudden movements with the old filter until the bag has been properly and completely sealed shut. Check out our next point to learn how to do that properly.

Tape the Plastic Bag Shut

Tying the drawstrings on a trash bag shut is one way to close off the majority of the opening to your bag, but it still isn’t going to completely seal the bag up and lock all of the debris inside. Go the extra mile and use tape to seal your old air filter in the plastic bag. Tape not only sticks to the plastic your bag is made from, but also grabs hold of a lot of the dust or debris that may be trying to escape and holds it in place. Use an extra-sticky and strong form of tape, such as duct tape, to ensure a quality seal that won’t reopen easily. Don’t be afraid to use a few extra strips of tape to fully secure the bag closed—the better the seal, the cleaner your indoor air quality will be.

Dispose of Old Air Filters in an Outside Trash Can

Don’t dispose of your old home air filter indoors—take it to your outside trash can and toss it there. While you may be using the plastic bag to seal the dust and debris from your filter inside, bags can puncture or accidentally have holes poked in them. Even a small hole can allow some of that dust and debris back into your air. Once you have the new air filter in place, immediately bring the old filter out to your trash can and throw it away there.

Never Leave Your HVAC System Without a Filter

We feel this should go without saying, but always shut off your air conditioner or heater completely when replacing your air filter to ensure no un-filtered air is forced through the system. Dust and debris that get into your HVAC system while your air filter is removed can cause all sorts of havoc to your most important and vital equipment. A dusty cooling coil prevents much-needed heat transfer and leads to an HVAC system that sustains a lot of extra wear and tear through normal operation. Rather than leaving your system unprotected, replace your filter with a new one right away to ensure your air intake vent remains completely protected at all times. 

Need professional help with an indoor air quality problem or need your air conditioning and heating equipment maintained? Call the experts from Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning at 800-840-3346 today!

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