We don't know much about the people who lived in this house before us. In fact, we know next to nothing. The house was a foreclosure, and already completely empty when we saw it for the first time. The one thing that we do know is that they owned a cat. There's been evidence in a few places...
We also found large gobs of cat hair under the stove, and on top of the fridge. Those were apparently some favorite cat hang outs.
The last piece of evidence we found was by far the grossest.
This, my friends, was our return air filter. And that is cat hair. And dirt, and dust, and every other gross thing that has been blowing around in the air in this house for I would guess....forever?
I'm kind of embarrassed that this was not thrown out and replaced the day that we moved in. But, live and learn. This was one of those "we never had to think about THAT when we were renting an apartment" things. So word of advice to other first time home buyers: check your air filter!
We ended up buying the exact same filter, so for comparison's sake, below you can see a nice, clean filter, and the one that we found in our house. It's a washable filter, which should save money and be more environmentally friendly in the long run. It's a little more expensive than the disposable filters, but still only around $20. The package says "lasts years". Maybe the previous owners didn't know that you needed to CLEAN the filter during those years? Do I just not know what is going on? Do filters really get this dirty? I refuse to believe it.
Replacing the filter was easy.
Find your return air vent/vents. You probably already know where this is. Ours was on the ceiling. Pop it open (how they open can vary...ours has tabs similar to the lock on a window), and the old filter should fall right out, or come out easily.
You can see that even the area where the filter was set had a layer or dust and dirt...yuck! Using a very damp cloth, wipe off the vent and the area where the filter will be. We're trying to get a clean start here.
The new filter should slide right in. It DOES matter which way you orient the filter, so be sure to double check that you have it the correct way so that air is flowing through it the way that it is supposed to. Filters also vary in size, so make sure you know what size you need before heading to the store. You don't want to get home and realize it won't fit, or just as bad, have a filter that is too small that is going to let dust, hair, all of the things that you are trying to filter, get by.