The HVAC filter in a forced air furnace system is normally inserted in a custom slot in the return air duct. This slot is most often right next to the furnace itself. Sometimes the slot will have a cover on it (meaning that the filter edge may not be visible while the cover is in place), other times there will be no cover. In still other cases the filter will be located in an attic air handling unit, for example when air conditioning has been added to a house that uses a boiler and radiators to heat the house. In the photo at right, the filter slot has a sheet metal cover on it that is directly beneath the number 1 inside the yellow rectangle.
Every HVAC furnace or air handling unit has an electrical switch mounted directly on or near it. At right is a photo of the switch in one installation. Turn off this switch to disable the fan before replacing the filter.
If your unit has a cover over the filter slot, remove this cover and set it aside. If there is no cover on the filter slot skip this step.
The airflow in a forced air HVAC system is in one direction only and the filter must be arranged correctly for this airflow direction. The edge of each filter contains an arrow giving the direction of the airflow as shown at right. Note the orientation of the arrow on the filter you are removing so that the filter you install in its place will have the same orientation. Generally air flows toward the main body of the furnace unit.
The Gripper jaws are normally closed when the tool is at rest as shown at right. This is the starting point for using the Gripper.
Residential HVAC filters are one inch thick. Therefore in order to fit the Gripper jaws into the slot holding an HVAC filter, the Gripper handles must be depressed until the jaw gap is approximately one inch as shown at right. You’ll want to be ready to remove the filter before squeezing the Gripper handles since the spring is a little stiff.
With the Gripper jaws set at a one inch gap insert the jaws into the slot on either side of the HVAC filter as depicted in the drawing at right. The thinness of the jaws should make this an easy operation. Once the jaws are inserted as far as they will go, release the handles so that the Gripper grasps the filter tightly.
Now pull the Gripper away from the duct to remove the filter from its slot. If the filter is stuck you may have to rock the filter from side to side to free it before pulling it from the slot.
Grasp the filter with the hand that is not holding the Gripper and pull filter and Gripper from the slot. Then depress the Gripper handles to remove the tool from the filter. You can now fully remove the filter from its slot and reinsert a new filter.
Reinstallation of a new filter is the opposite of the removal process explained in the earlier steps of this procedure. Don’t forget to turn the switch on the furnace back on after replacing the filter.
US Utility Patent Number 9,409,290 - Gripper for Manipulating Planar Workpiece in Tight-Fitting Receptacle.
US Utility Patent Number 9,744,673 - Gripper for Manipulating Planar Workpiece in Tight-Fitting Receptacle.
Jaws are parallel at one inch separation.
Manufactured from cold-rolled steel for strength and low cost.
Nickel plated to prevent rust.
Insertion depth of each jaw is over 2 inches.
Jaw width of 2.5 inches for maximum gripping power.
Jaw thickness of .055 inches provides stiffness yet easy insertion in tight spaces.
Jaw corners have a radius to prevent sharp points that can cut or tear.
Anyone who has trouble removing the filter from their forced air furnace can use a Gripper to make this regular maintenance task much easier.
Normally an HVAC filter should be replaced every 30 to 60 days. In some cases they will last 90 days or more when there is minimal dust in your house or apartment.
If the heat and air conditioning in your house comes out of vents as blown air then you have a forced air system and you may be able to use a Filtr-Grip® Gripper to make filter changing easier.
A visual inspection of the filter is the best way to determine whether replacement is necessary. If the filter is dark gray (having been white when new) or its shape is deformed then it should be replaced.
The filter is typically next to the furnace unit. Look where the large silver metal duct structure meets the furnace unit; the filter is generally where the two meet. You can recognize the furnace unit by the black metal pipe (gas line) that connects to it and the flue pipe coming out of it. Newer furnace units use a white plastic flue pipe, older units have a 4 inch silver metal flue pipe that gets hot when the furnace is running.
Locate the switch mounted on the furnace; it looks like a regular light switch and is usually mounted in a silver-colored metal box. A photo of such a switch is provided in the How the Filtr-Grip® Gripper Works section of this web site. Turn the switch to the off position before replacing the HVAC filter then back on after installing a new filter.