Introduction: Air Handler Filter Change Out

About: Father of 5 and husband to 1. "A jack of all trades and master of none, but better than a master of one"

Just because I can, I decided to put together an 'ible related to my job. I sell a broad range of air filter and air cleaner products for an impressive span of applications from home furnaces to surgical suites. I recently swapped out the filters for an air handler unit that moves 488,000 cubic feet of air per minute. At the time of this 'ible, it is the biggest air handler unit in the Southeast and takes up the same square footage as a large two story house. It took four men 2 hours to swap out all of the 144 piece bag-style filters (complete with clean up). Here's how it's done.

Step 1: Suit Up!

Assemble protective gear as follows: wrap-around goggles, bunny-suit, gloves, and face mask. You want to keep the dirt in the outside air from getting into your eyes and nose as well as your clothes. Ever put your hand just outside the car window on the highway and "surf" the breeze? You will be dong that with your whole body as you change out the old filters inside this great big machine.

Step 2: Inside the Machine

As you navigate the small portal door, you have to fight a wind tunnel while holding onto a filter made of a plastic frame off of which pockets hang to catch dirt and dust. It's basically like wrestling a kite away from a recalcitrant 4 year old while someone tries to push you over. All the while, there is one thing you have to remember at all times: Do Not Bump Into The Shutoff Switch. By the small door, there is a safety switch that will immediately stop the 2-story machine that supplies air to all critical areas of the building. Alarms will sound, officials will find you, and you will hate life if you shut the building down by mistake.

Step 3: Down to Business

Inside the machine, there is a floor to ceiling rack that holds all of the filters. Right now, they all look disgusting because they have filtered junk out of the air for however long the customer put off ordering more filters. There are clips that twist to the side that fasten the filter into the frame. Twist the clips out of the way and as quickly as you can, pull the nasty filter out and put the beautiful clean filter in. You have to fight the wind an be FAST because every minute a filter is not in the rack, all manner of junk is swept into the airspace throughout the building. Use manpower to your advantage to set up a chain of people removing old filters and moving new filter into the rack. Be sure to tidy up the place on the way out, tossing all of the junked up filters into the bin.