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Home A/C Return Filter, Grille, and Filter's Frame Install

Changing your HVAC filter is a simple but essential practice that benefits your health and wallet. By ensuring clean, unrestricted airflow, you can breathe easier, save energy, and extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. 

But what's one to do when given a system without filters or an easy way to install and change those filters??!

I've got you a simple solution, and this post is all about it!

Before we jump onto the filter install, remember these crucial reasons why it is so important to change those filters regularly:

  • Improved Air Quality: The primary function of the air filter is to trap unwanted particles like dust, pollen, pet dander, etc. A clogged or no filter can't effectively capture the contaminants, leading to all those particles traveling around your home. Poorer air quality and potential health problems, especially for those with allergies or respiratory issues.
  • Enhanced System Efficiency: A clean filter allows air to flow freely through the HVAC system, ensuring it operates efficiently. A clogged filter restricts airflow, forcing the system to work harder to circulate air, which translates to higher energy consumption and potentially higher utility bills.
  • Extended System Lifespan: When your HVAC system struggles to push air through a clogged filter, it strains its components, increasing wear and tear. Regularly changing the filter reduces this strain, promoting the longevity of your HVAC system and saving you money on repairs and replacements down the line.
  • Reduced Risk of Breakdowns: Clogged or no filters can also contribute to system malfunctions and breakdowns. As dirt and debris accumulate or get inside the air conditioner, it can clog it, restricting airflow and leading to overheating and potential damage to your HVAC unit. Regularly changing your filter helps prevent these issues and ensures your system operates smoothly.

The updating of our home's second level was on the tracks, I was finished painting two bedrooms, a staircase, and the hallway, and I was ready to remove the carpet. However, after painting the ceiling and noticing how disgusting that return air grille looked, I immediately had to take care of the HVAC unit.

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The problem was that our unit needed the proper compartment to hold the air filters. The metal grille closing the return duct was screwed onto the Sheetrock, making things even harder. 

We have wanted to address this issue for years but have not given it the importance it deserves.

Let me show you how to install an air filter with its proper frame on your HVAC unit! 

If you prefer, you can watch the short video or continue reading below.

Before you begin:

  • Turn off your HVAC system: Locate the thermostat and turn the system to "off" or "fan only." You can also turn off the power to the HVAC system at the breaker box.
  • Gather your tools

Materials and tools needed for this job:



Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws securing the metal grille onto the Sheetrock and remove it.
Clean the filter compartment by wiping away dust or debris using a damp cloth.


Measure the size of the air duct/drywall opening. Ours was 18" x 18".

Knowing the duct size opening, it is time to buy the filter with its corresponding frame.

I bought my return air filter grille HERE. It included the filter and the corresponding screws. Many other sizes are available, and they also give you many tips on correctly measuring it for the right fit.
| Return Air Filter Grille - Filter Included |

Inside the box, you'll find the metal frame, the air filter, the grille and four screws.
Return Air Filter Grille - Filter Included |


Set the metal frame in the opening; it should fit snugly.

Use one of the four included screws to attach the metal frame to the ceiling or wall. One screw in each corner.


Unwrap and look at your new filter's frame, as that's where most filters have arrows indicating the direction of airflow. 

Ensure the arrows are pointing toward the heating/cooling system, not away from it. If there are no arrows, consult your owner's manual for guidance.


Securely close the air filter by installing the metal grille and snapping closed the latches.


Return to your thermostat, turn your HVAC system back on to "auto" mode, and enjoy the cleaner air!

Additional tips:

  • It's recommended to replace your air filter every 1-3 months, depending on your home's environment and usage. If you have pets or allergies, you may need to change it more frequently.
  • Writing the date on the new filter before installing it can help you remember when to replace it next.
  • You can also set a reminder on your phone or calendar to schedule your filter replacements.

Following these steps, you can easily replace your HVAC air filter and keep your home's air clean and your HVAC system running efficiently. If you need clarification on any of the steps or encounter difficulties, consult your HVAC system's owner's manual or contact a qualified professional for assistance.

Enjoy what you read today?



  1. Yes!!! I desperately need to do this! I had no idea I could replace the one that’s screwed into the drywall!

    1. I was there in that same spot until I found these filters that came with their own frame. It's so much easier not having to unscrew them from the drywall. Find out the size of yours and install the new one. An easy DIY that's going to give you plenty of fresh air. :)


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