Where Is My Air Conditioner Filter?

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Updated December 17, 2022

If you need to perform regular maintenance on your premium air conditioner unit, you may wonder where is the air conditioner filter located.


  • Air filter replacements should regularly be part of your air conditioner maintenance routine.
  • Portable and window air conditioners use washable filters that are easily accessible behind a plastic filter cover.
  • You can find your central AC filter in the return air vent or on an air handler in a basement or utility closet.

In the time between filter changes, your AC filters catch pet dander, dirt, and other airborne particles, improving the indoor air quality. A dirty filter can affect the AC unit’s energy consumption and prevent the proper direction of airflow, so it’s important to keep it clean. To kick off these maintenance tasks, you’ll have to identify the air filter location, which depends on the filter type. Some types of air filters include fiberglass, UV, HEPA, higher-efficiency filters, and pleated filters.

Installing a replacement air filter shouldn’t require tools and can prevent an overheating central air conditioner. In addition, a clean filter ensures adequate airflow to your entire home. A dirty, clogged filter can cause restricted airflow in the return duct, leading to frozen evaporator coils.

Insider Tip

Measure your replacement air filter to ensure that you get the correct filter size for your unit.

Where Do I Find the AC Filter?

Experts recommend cleaning or changing your air conditioning filter every 90 days or three months for proper maintenance. That said, homes with multiple people, pets, or smokers may need an air filter replacement more frequently. A clean AC filter can improve indoor air quality by catching household air particles and helping the air conditioner blower unit stay efficient.

Knowing the type of filter material your AC unit uses will help you find the correct replacement filter. In addition, portable and window units use washable air filters that you can reuse. So, before looking for the air filter slot, explore the types of filters found in modern AC models. Tower fans that cool your home as well tend to not have filters, but you can typically clean the removable front grille like what we discuss in our Forty4 Small Oscillating Tower Fan review.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable AC models typically house the air filter behind an air filter slot cover at the rear of the unit. Most of these units utilize a reusable filter you can clean and reinstall like the one featured in our Hessaire MC37M review.

Window Units

Window air conditioners often utilize reusable, washable air filters. Most of the time, window ACs store the filter on the indoor side of the unit. Simply remove the cover and clean the filter with water.

Split Air Conditioners

Ductless split air conditioners typically offer a washable filter on the front of the unit. The cover usually lifts away to reveal one or more filters you can clean and reuse.


A dirty air filter can negatively impact indoor air quality and cause your air conditioner to overheat.

Central Air Conditioners

Central air systems use high-capacity disposable filters that come in a range of sizes. Your air filter might be in a utility closet or a return air duct. You shouldn’t need tools to remove the filter from the central air return, but you may need a screwdriver if the filter is in a return vent.

STAT: According to a U.S. EIA (Energy Information Agency) survey, Northeastern Americans are 14% more likely to use window AC than a central air conditioning system. (source)

Where Is the Air Conditioner Filter FAQs

How do I clean a reusable filter?

Unlike disposable filters, you can remove washable filters and reuse them in your air conditioning unit. Unless your removable filter is in rough condition, you can clean your air filter with soap and water. Ensure that it fully dries before placing it in the AC unit.

What is the best air filter for my home?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 6 or better. A MERV 8 filter is ideal, but you can find thicker filters with a MERV 13 rating.

How do you remove an air conditioner filter?

Air filter removal is usually a simple process for most air conditioners. Models like window units and portable ACs feature a tools-free removable cover. Assuming you have the correct size filter, you can lift the previous filter out of the slot and slide the fresh filter into place.
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