Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Air filters are basic needs to your home’s indoor air quality and therefore should be taken seriously. The air filter on return vent is a measure to ensure airborne contaminants and allergens are removed, thereby aiding air indoors.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

We will discuss the do’s and don’t in this article. Also, you may read about safety precautions to follow and the step-by-step guide that will help you.

What are the return air vents used for?

Return air vents are used to better indoor air quality.

Using this mechanism, it pulls in air from the room and transfers the air through a filter regularly before returning the air into the room through the supply vents.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

There are different classes of return air vents, and each kind has its claim benefits and downsides.

They moreover come in different sizes, based suitably on the square size of a home. Also, a few return air vents utilize filters that eradicate particulates from the air.

Return air vent filters

The return air vent filter comprises a filter and a frame. The frame is ordinarily made of cardboard or plastic, whereas the return air filters can be paper, fiberglass, or engineered materials.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Return air filters are installed and used to trap airborne contaminants before they get into the home’s environs.

Are filters essential for my return vents?

Yes, filters are essential. They can help prevent contaminated air and keep your surroundings free from dirt thereby creating unfiltered air.

There are the benefits of the return air vent filter below:

  • High indoor air quality (IAQ) 
  • High HVAC system performance 
  • Lower energy costs 
  • Increased consistent indoor temperatures  
  • Minimum frequency of HVAC repairs and maintenance

With the correct installation of the return air vent filter, you’ll be guaranteed that you and your cherished ones are breathing clean, fresh air.

How do I install my return air vent filter?

Installing your return vent filter has been made easier. Below is a guide on how to install return air vent filters.

Switch off the furnace or air handler: The primary thing you should consider when introducing unused return vent filters is to switch off your furnace or air handler.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Typically a critical step since you wouldn’t afford your air handler to inadvertently take in dust from your previous air vent filters when replacing them.

Unfold the return vent: Unlock the hatch and open the screen to allow access to your return vents filter. Most screens have pivoted on one side of them, so it’ll flip open like a cover on a waste can. Be that as it may, a few screens come off — so take care.

Detach the air filter: While opening the return vents, the specks of dirt from the air filter may drop out of their spot — so be arranged and keep one hand open to hold on to the air filter so it doesn’t slip.

Get rid of the dirty air filter: After evacuating the air filter, toss it away. Would be best to keep an empty waste bin close by to transfer the old dirty air filter inside the bin.

Keep in mind to be careful about dust or pet dander build-up on the messy air filter — be cautious not to thump off the built-up dust from the messy side of the air filter.

Installation of the new air filter: When you are installing the now new air filter, keep in mind the filter angle. The arrow on the side of the air filter ought to point toward the wall or ceiling. After placing the new air filter in its opening, shut the return vents screen and bolt it closed.

Switch on the furnace or air handler: When switching the furnace back on, you might take note the air filter move marginally towards the return vents — that’s usual.

What do I do if my return vent is an odd shape?

In case your return vent is an odd shape, and you can’t discover a filter that will match your vent, you’ll be able to utilize a cut-to-fit air filter.

A cut-to-fit air filter comes in a roll of fabric to enable your cut to comply with the shape of your air vent filters.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Cut-to-fit air filter more often has velcro strips to clasp them to your vent. By utilizing velcro strips, your filters will stay put until you’re prepared to change for substitution.

What air filters are better to buy?

The MERV rating on the air filter represents the Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating begins at 1, which signifies low productivity, and 16 for high productivity. Most air filters will have a MERV rating printed on their bundling. In case no rating is shown, it’s a low-productivity air filter.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Air filters with a MERV rating of 13-16 are high-productivity air filters unacceptable for a few standard heat pumps. Air filters with a Merv rating of 8-12 are an awesome selection since they are appropriate for most heat pumps and will do awesome work capturing a wide cluster of airborne contaminants.

4 types of air filters

Disposable pleated filters: Pleated air filters are accessible in different MERV ratings from 4-12. These filters will regularly change based on the MERV rating and how numerous contaminants the air filter will capture. These air filters could last for 30 to 90 days.

Electrostatic filters: These can either be expendable or changeless. Lasting electrostatic air filters are launderable and can function for up to eight years.

Electrostatic air filters inactive power that charges the material, causing air contaminants to stay in the filaments. Expendable air filters are moreover electrostatic.

High-efficiency pleated air (HEPA) filters: HEPA filters are thicker than the air filters fixed at the air return. These are found in the ductwork. Because these air filters are to some degree harder to preserve, we suggest you look for proficient heat pump maintenance.

Disposable flat fiberglass: These air filters regularly have a MERV rating of 4 or less. They are at a reasonable price, and you change them each 30 days.

Can the return vent get blocked?

No, the return air vent is basic to your heat pump system. In case you chunk the return air vent, it can stop the heat pump system from working accurately.

The way the heat pump works is the blower fan switches on and draws air through the return vent over the evaporator coil (usually an air conditioner & heat pump) and after that passes out the supply vent filter.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

Without the return air streaming unreservedly, you may have small to no wind stream from your vents. In case your heat pump works harder, it can cause mechanical damage over time.

If the return air vent is ugly, you’ll be able to buy attractive grills that can make a beautiful appearance without hindering the wind stream through the return air vent.

Does every room need a return vent?

No, each room does not require a return vent. In most advanced homes, there are possibilities to find one return air vent. In most older homes, there are possibilities to find a return air vent and supply air vent in each room.

If you possess a more seasoned home with return air vents in each room, you likely have a central area where the air filter is close to the heat pump system.

The majority of heat pump systems (especially part systems) will have a channel opening at the bottom where the return air duct joins to the air handler for the air filter.

Return vent filters VS supply vent filters

The heating and air conditioning system has two functions, the supply, and the return vents

  • Return vent filters avoid particles from going into your HVAC system.
  • Supply vent filters are utilized to avoid particles from rushing out of your HVAC system.

If you’re having air quality difficulty, at that point supply vent filters will fairly cover the issue without really making it go absent.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

In case there’s dust rushing out of your supply vents, at this point there’s a greater issue along with your system:

  • The system might have an air spill, and grimy air is spilling into your return air filter from your carport or storage room.
  • The HVAC system (especially your supply ducts) could be exceptionally messy and require careful cleaning.

Return vent filters offer assistance to help channel contaminants from entering the system.

Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide

A return vent filter will keep the air handler, evaporator coil, and return duct clean by sifting out particles from the air consumption.

When should a return air vent not be used?

There’s no hurt in utilizing the return air vent filters in many cases. However, there are some special cases where you ought to not utilize return air vents, which are:

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  • On the off chance that you have got a little or ineffectively ventilated space, return air vents with filters in this case may permit wind issues and diminish the adequacy of your HVAC system. In these situations, it may be way better to forego the return vent filter in favor of other ventilation arrangements that are more fitting for your home’s needs, such as UV air purifiers.
  • If you live in a muggy climate, return air vents can trap dampness, driving to form development and expanding the hazard of indoor sensitivities and sicknesses. As such, most HVAC pros suggest dodging return vent filter during muggy climates.
  • Lastly, you ought to not utilize a return air vent filter on the off chance that you’ve got a central vacuum system, as they can cause the vacuum to exhaust and may abbreviate its life expectancy

Question & Answer

Do I need filters in my return vents?

In case there’s no air filter in your HVAC unit, at that point you completely require a return vent filter. The MERV-5 to MERV-8 creased air filter may be recommended for your return vent.
But remember in case breathing issues or the home gets dusty more rapidly than you’d like, replace your return air vent heater or AC filter.

Can you put a filter on a return vent?

To constrain or indeed totally expel common allergens from your home, you may consider and put filters on your home’s vents as additional protection.
Where the HVAC system is likely to encompass a filter built into the system itself, numerous house owners are starting to introduce return air filter in their home’s vents as well.

Where is the return vent filter located?

In the majority of homes, you’ll discover your air filter housing found right next to your heating or cooling system’s air handler. Usually a huge metal box with a fan engine and fan inside of it. The majority of air handlers are introduced within the utility closet, attic, and basement.


Keeping a constant check on your air filter and return air vent will go a long way to making your heat pump function for a long time. Heat pumps that have been kept clean and well-kept can function for up to 15 years and more. Read about the solution on Ecobee not turning on AC

Robert Brooks

I have an engineering background. I have my own house, where I live with my wife and children. I want to say that the most important thing when equipping a house is to choose the right heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

1 thought on “Filter on return vent: a step-by-step guide”

  1. My mom is allergic and we had to deal with allergens in her house. One method was to put filters on the vents in her house. But it is very important to change the air filters every three months or more often (especially if you have pets). We purchase pleated filters or filters designed to filter out microscopic particles. We also purchased an air dryer and an air purifier that works with a filter. We currently maintain humidity levels below 50% to reduce dust mites and mold growth. So don’t underestimate the importance of air filters in your home.


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