Top 5 Budget Hotels in Raleigh, NC

Are you looking at new homes in Raleigh, NC and need a place to stay for a few days? Or maybe you’ve moved out of your home while home builders in Raleigh, NC are renovating your living space. The Raleigh area has some great budget-friendly hotels for a comfortable stay. Some are even pet-friendly. Here are the Top 5 Budget Hotels in Raleigh, NC.

  1. Econo Lodge Inn and Suites
    Just a few minutes from the downtown area, off the I-440 and U.S. Highway 1, you will find the Econo Lodge. Convenient to the Convention and Conference Center, Alltel Pavilion and the North Carolina State Capitol Building, guests can enjoy free Internet access, coffee, deluxe continental breakfast and free local calls – perfect when you need to talk to your home builders in Raleigh, NC.
  2. Days Inn
    Great location, good value and free Wi-Fi are all on offer at Days Inn. Comfort and cost-savings are the key criteria here and the hotel boasts 135 pet-friendly rooms complete with all the usual amenities to make your stay feel like home-away-from-home. There are two restaurants adjacent to the property and a selection of museums nearby.
  3. America’s Best Value Inn-Crabtree/Raleigh
    Convenient location, attractive rooms and wallet-friendly prices attract guests to the three story hotel. There’s also a free deluxe continental breakfast, guest laundry and on-site fitness facilities. The hotel is situated close to the North Hills Mall and is the perfect base from which to explore Raleigh homes for sale.
  4. Super 8, Raleigh
    Free local calls, parking and free breakfast as well as pet-friendly rooms can be found at Super 8. All rooms have cable TVs, refrigerators, internet access, microwaves and work desks. Just 1 mile from the Crabtree Valley Mall, Super 8 is also close to the Exploris Museum, Convention Center and only 14 miles from Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
  5. Best Western
    If you want to stay somewhere a little more upscale without breaking the budget, try the Best Western. The hotel in North-Downtown sits in a prime location and offers guests free parking, breakfast and Wi-Fi. The three story hotel is pet-friendly and boasts premium cable, coin laundry and an outdoor pool to cool off in after a long day of looking for Raleigh homes for sale. The hotel is a quick 3 miles from many of the downtown attractions, including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of Art. It also sits a mere five miles away from the Time Warner Pavilion at Walnut Creek as well as Crabtree Valley Mall. It is 15 miles from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Being close to the best Raleigh has to offer doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Staying in a budget-friendly hotel is one of the best ways to spend more time discovering the Raleigh, NC area while looking for new construction in Raleigh, NC.

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7 Important New Home Winter Maintenance Tips

Written by John Rives

It’s that time of year again where most of us are starting to think of Halloween costumes for the kids and young-at-heart adults, Thanksgiving with family and friends, and the holiday season. The days are shorter, the air is cooler and it’s time to break out the jackets, sweaters and cool-weather cloths.

It’s also time to do some home maintenance to get your house ready for the upcoming cold weather of late autumn and winter. Use these 7 important new home winter maintenance tips to help save money on heating and keep your home and yard in good shape through the cold winter months.

Even if you have a new home, you still need to prepare for winter.

  1. Test your heater before it gets cold to make sure it is working properly
  2. Replace the HVAC air filter
  3. Check smoke alarms
  4. Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to blow down
  5. Clean gutters and roof
  6. Drain irrigation lines
  7. Drain gas from mowers and trimmers

1) Don’t wait until its cold outside to try out your heater for the fist time. Even newer units can sometimes fail or need service. It will be much faster to get any needed service if you schedule the service while the weather is still mild instead of after the first really cold day when HVAC service companies are backed up with service calls.

2) Replace the HVAC filter/s in your home. Dirty filters make it hard for your HVAC system to move air through your heating ducts. Clean filters make for cleaner air inside your home and will help protect your HVAC system for years to come. Watch our short video about how to replace an HVAC air filter.

3) Test your smoke alarms using the TEST button on the face of the alarm. You might want to wear ear plugs while doing this as the high pitched noise from the alarm can be quite loud. If you see a red light blinking on the face of the alarm instead of a green light, you probably need to replace the battery backup in the alarm. That way even if the power goes out, the alarm will still work and be able to alert you to any smoke in your home.

4) Most ceiling fans have a switch that will reverse the rotational direction of the fan blades. You want your ceiling fans to blow air down (usually clockwise) in the winter as the warm air will rise to the ceiling and blowing it back down into the rooms with ceiling fans will help keep your home warmer and might even save money by allowing you to use your heater less.

5) With all the rain, sleet and snow of winter it’s important to make sure you clean all the pine needles and/or leaves from your roof so they don’t end up clogging your gutters and downspouts. It’s a good idea to clean out the gutters as well to make sure they can handle the water from rain and snow melt in the winter. It’s also a good idea to add extensions to the downspout outlet to keep water away from the foundation of your home and make sure your yard drainage is working so you don’t end up with standing water in your yard. Read our article on why you may have standing water in your yard to get tips on how to avoid this problem.

6) Don’t forget to drain your irrigation system before it freezes and you end up with broken lines. It’s easy to forget about the water in the irrigation system once it gets cool outside and you are no longer using it. You may want to call a professional to do this to make sure it is done correctly. It doesn’t cost that much and it will be well worth it to know the next time you need your lawn sprinklers, they will be ready to go. Make sure to turn off all exterior faucets and disconnect any hoses. It’s a good time to roll up and put away any hoses still in the yard and keep them in good shape for next year.

7) It’s not a good idea to leave gas in mowers, trimmers, or anything with a small gas engine for extended periods as the gas can eventually decompose and leave a varnish inside the carburetor and plastic tubing. The easiest way to remove all the gas from small engines is to drain the gas tank and then run the engine until it runs out of gas. Check your manual for other cold-weather storage tips.

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McKee Homes Warranty

By Kenny Jones and Charmaine Simmons

One of the most common questions new homeowners have is ‘how do I submit warranty requests and schedule the work to be done?’ McKee Homes enrolls all new homeowners in our 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty program upon closing. This program provides 1-year workmanship, 2-year systems and 10-year structural coverage. In an effort to provide exceptional customer service we have partnered with 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty, one of the nation’s leading home warranty companies, to handle all homeowner warranty requests under their Front Line Warranty Service Program.

During your Pre-Closing orientation, your Builder will show you a sample McKee Homes homeowner’s manual and cover some of its key points. Shortly after closing, you will receive an email with login information for your BuilderTrend account. This is where your personalized homeowner’s manual will be located. Your homeowner’s manual provides a wealth of information, including:

  • 2-10 Home Buyer’s Warranty information and warranty manual
  • Emergency service numbers for plumbing, HVAC and electrical
  • Seasonal maintenance guide
  • 30-day and 11-month warranty service request forms

The 2-10 warranty manual explains what is covered under warranty and what is not covered, so it is a great reference tool. The emergency numbers are for the trade partners who helped build your home. If something happens with your electrical, HVAC or plumbing that needs immediate attention, you know whom to contact. The seasonal maintenance guides are informational and provide suggestions on how to help maintain your home and avoid costly repairs later on.

The warranty service request forms can be used to fill out at 30-day and 11-months after closing to address any issues you may find in your home. These forms are optional, as 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty will take your warranty items over the phone, through email, fax and mail. All contact information can be found in your homeowner’s manual. We do recommend keeping a running list so you can be sure to get all of your items addressed at one time. Once our Front Line Warranty Service team receives your warranty items they will determine what is covered and what is not covered. The items that are covered under warranty will be scheduled for repair with you by the Builder in your neighborhood. Our warranty system does not offer reminders at 30-day and 11-months after closing, so putting a reminder on a calendar may help remind you when it’s time to turn in the lists.

If you have a warranty issue with your appliances you will need to contact the appliance supplier directly. Their contact information can be found in your homeowner’s manual.

It is our goal to make sure any issues with your new home are resolved in a timely manner. From minor issues such as nail pops to more complex issues that occasionally occur, our 2-10 Home Buyer’s Warranty Program will protect your investment in your new home. Should you ever need to sell your home, the warranty is fully-transferable, which increases the resale value of the home.

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Maintaining Your Septic System

By Tracy Green and Charmaine Simmons

When you think about the maintenance of the systems in your home your first thoughts are probably HVAC, electrical and plumbing. However, one overlooked and undervalued system in your home is actually outside your home, the septic system. As with all the systems in your home, if you properly maintain your septic system you can avoid costly repairs.

First, understanding how a septic system works will help you maintain it. The wastewater from your home leaves through a pipe and goes to the septic tank. The waste separates into solid waste (sludge) that sinks to the bottom and oil and grease (scum) rises to the top. There are bacteria in the septic tank that helps to breakdown the sludge. The wastewater then exits the septic tank and goes into the drainage field. The wastewater is released into the soil which removes harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

So one thing you have to watch is what you put down your drains (that goes into your septic tank). Everything that goes down your drains should be biodegradable and septic safe. Flushing things like dental floss, feminine products, paper towels, coffee grounds and other kitchen and bathroom products can clog the tank and drain field. Also, household chemicals, paint, oils and grease can kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. If you have a garbage disposal, you will want to use it sparingly as it will increase the accumulation of sludge and scum.

Another thing to be aware of when you have a septic system is how much water you are using. Per the EPA, the average single-home family uses 70 gallons of indoor water per person per day. Leaking faucets and running toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day. Faucet aerators and high efficiency toilets and showerheads can help reduce excess water usage. Many people like the convenience of washing all their laundry in one day, but with a septic system you need to give your tank time to recover. So it’s recommended to spread your washing, otherwise you risk flooding your drainage field.

Knowing where your septic tank and drainage field are is also very important. You don’t’ want to put anything heavy like a shed, parked car or RV, cement or pool in this area as it can damage the tank and pipes as well as compromise the drainage field. Another thing that can damage your septic system are large trees and shrubs. Roots, especially aggressive roots that come with Willows, can damage pipes and the tank.

Having your tank pumped regularly is part of proper maintenance. Professionals typically charge between $200-$300 for this service, however, it can vary by region. Keep in mind that if they have to dig to find your septic tank that will incur additional fees. When your tank is pumped they should also inspect the tank to make sure everything is in good working condition. The frequency of pumpings varies between owners. No matter the size of your family, if you have a garbage disposal it is recommended that you pump your system annually. If you are a family of four with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 2-3 years. If you are a family of two with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 4-5 years.

Every few months using a septic tank system treatment, like Rid-X®, by pouring into your toilet can add the bacteria necessary to keep your septic tank performing optimally. For those of you who like homemade treatments, you can pour a liter of spoiled buttermilk down the toilet every few months, as it too is a great source of bacteria. If you notice anything that seems off with your septic system, it is best to contact a professional immediately to address any issues as early as possible.

While this system doesn’t need constant supervision, remembering these key things will help prolong the life of your septic system.

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf; http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-a-Septic-System

How To Reset a GFI Outlet

Bob and Sue’s Home Maintenance Tips

Part 1: How to reset a GFI Outlet
By Bob and Sue Russo

What is a GFI/GFCI outlet?

GFCI Outlet All new home built today are required by law to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI, more commonly referred to as GFI outlets). In 1975, the NEC [1] required GFI Outlet installation in bathrooms, but it wasn’t until 2005 that that this Federal Organization instructed that GFIs should be installed in Laundry Rooms. Based on what we’d read, it seems that it was up to individual states to determine if they would comply with this regulation. If you are moving into your new home from an older apartment or home you may not be accustom to seeing or using these GFI outlets.

A GFI Outlet is a potentially life-saving feature in your home. The following example illustrates the importance of a GFI. If you were to plug in a small appliance with an electrical problem, the GFI outlet would trip almost immediately. You may be thinking, “okay, no big deal”, but if you attempted to plug in the same electrical appliance (without a GFI) while touching your water faucet, the electrical current would travel through your body and into the water faucet, which could result in burns, electrical shock or death.

One GFI outlet can protect multiple outlets in your home, therefore all your outlets may not look like the one pictured above.  Let’s think about a series of outlets like a row of lined up dominoes.  When you knock the first domino down, the subsequent dominoes will also fall. In this analogy, the last domino to fall is the GFI outlet. Let’s say that the electrician installed a GFI in the outlet that you plug your toaster into. He then connected the GFI outlet to the next outlet he installed, which is a non-GFI outlet. This happens to be the outlet you plug your coffee pot into. Both appliances are GFI protected because they are both linked to the original GFI outlet. So if your coffee pot has a short, the GFI Outlet that your toaster is plugged into will trip.

In the example in the video, we figured out that we had a defective appliance, because Bob knew that the coffee pot sparked when he plugged it in. So our plan was to reset the GFI Outlet, return the Coffee Pot to the store, get a new one and be back in business. A GFI outlet can also be tripped by an electrical storm, any odd electrical surge or even excessive moisture.

How to Reset GFCI Outlet

To locate the outlet with the tripped GFI, look for the one with a small button popped out. Remember, when a GFI trips, it will trip any and all outlets connected to that GFI. Most kitchen and bathrooms in new homes have multiple (visible) GFI outlets, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the GFI that’s tripped in one of these rooms. Once you have located the outlet with the tripped GFI, simply push the button back into place.

In rooms other than your bathroom or kitchen or even outside your home, it’ may be difficult to find the tripped GFI. This happened to us in our garage and we had to call an electrician to come help us. He came and helped us move an antique wardrobe in a garage, thus locating the GFI. We all had a good laugh and fortunately, we got away with just buying the electrician lunch. Calling an electrician to reset a GFI could really be costly and unnecessary, so we strongly recommend taking the time to locate the outlet with the GFI!

In our situation it was easy to tell what tripped our GFI. But, if you are unsure why yours has tripped, we recommend you follow the steps listed below.

  1. Unplug everything on that circuit. (the things that aren’t working )
  2. Try resetting the GFI again. If the GFI resets, one of the items plugged in along the circuit may be bad.
  3. Try plugging the items back in one at a time until the GFI trips again. Whatever item trips the GFI is most likely defective. Don’t use this item again until it’s rewired.
  4. If you are able to reset the GFI and none of the items tripped it again, that’s okay too. Remember we said a storm or some other temporary electrical anomaly can also trip the GFI.
  5. If the GFI does not reset, you may have also tripped a circuit breaker. A GFI Outlet will not reset if it is incorrectly wired or doesn’t have power running to it.

Now we are going to look and the circuit breaker panel!

All of the wires in your home are run from a circuit breaker panel. This panel might be located in your garage or laundry room.   Prior to drywall installation, the electrician fed the wires from your circuit breaker box through your walls, which will eventually lead to your outlets.

After you reset the circuit breaker panel, reset the GFI and you should be in business!
We love helping first time homeowners and we want you to be safe! A GFI will not trip repeatedly unless you have a more serious electrical problem or a defective GFI. In the very unlikely scenario that the circuit breaker panel or the same GFI repeatedly trips it’s time to call a certified electrician.

Enjoy your new McKee Home! Bob and Sue


[1] 1 The NEC is published by the National Fire Portection Association (NFPA 70). It is the most widely adopted building code for requirements for electrical system installations in the U.S. It may be adopted into law by states, counties or local jurisdictions for enforcement by inspection authorities and is currently revised every three years.

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McKee Homes Builds Adapted Housing for Aging in Place

By Margee Herring and John Rives

“Aging in Place” is a growing trend for those growing older.  Studies, opinion papers, and family conversations around the dinner table all agree that those 65 and older prefer, and will benefit from, staying in homes that accommodate independence and keep them connected to neighbors, friends and all that’s familiar.

To that end, McKee Homes is providing adaptive features in homes that help keep residents from entering institutional long term care facilities as they age.  Many aging in place features are hardly noticeable and are designed to accommodate future modifications or needs.  These can include wider hallways and door openings that can later accommodate a wheelchair; door knobs that are horizontal levers, and therefore more easily grasped by arthritic hands; stacked closets that can later become an elevator shaft; or wall construction with blocking for future railings and grab bars.

“Homes built for aging-in-place are simply more thoughtful about accommodating residents’ needs over time,” says Pat McKee of McKee Homes.  And such features also better serve those who are disabled or recovering from injury.  A zero-threshold doorway or shower entry is aesthetically elegant while also creating no obstacle for those whose mobility may be challenged.

Such features were critical for a home McKee recently built for SGT (Ret) Jonathan Rivenbark, an army veteran who was disabled while serving in Afghanistan.  The 2,300 sq. ft. home featured wider door openings and hallways, lower counters in the kitchen and bathrooms, zero-threshold entries at showers and exterior doors, and a sidewalk surrounding the home to better accommodate SGT (Ret) Rivenbark’s disabilities and his wheelchair.  McKee Homes had previously built three adaptive homes for military veterans.

For more information, please visit our Specially Adapted Housing web page.

special adaptive features for wheelchair access in bathrooms

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USDA Loan Fee Increase Scheduled for October 1

By John Rives

How much is the cost of a USDA loan going up? If you are shopping for a new home and are considering getting a USDA loan, you should hurry, as there is a USDA loan fee increase scheduled for October 1. USDA loans are one of the few loans that offer home buyers in rural areas a no-money-down option for their mortgage. The current loan guarantee fee for USDA loans of 2% is going up to 2.75% on October 1, 2015.

According to Bloomberg, an e-mail from USDA spokesman David Sandretti, states the move will enable the $24 billion program “to continue to sustain itself without a congressional appropriation to offset credit-related costs.”

The current guarantee fee of 2% for an $180,000 USDA loan is $3,600. This cost is usually included in the loan increasing the total loan amount to $183,600. When the guarantee fee goes up to 2.75% in October, the new fee for an $180,000 loan will be $4,950. That’s an increase of $1,350, increasing the total loan amount to $184,950.

While the guarantee fee which is a one-time fee charged by all government mortgage programs including USDA, FHA, and VA is increasing, the annual fee (monthly PMI) for USDA loans will remain the same at 0.50 percent.

The USDA has invested more than $117 billion to support rural home ownership but the home loan program was temporarily halted in 2010 when the USDA ran out of money. Last year, over $19.9 billion was invested by USDA which helped approximately 140,000 families purchase homes in rural areas.

If you are considering buying a home with a USDA loan, you can save money by purchasing the home before October 1 of this year. For more information on which McKee Homes neighborhoods qualify for USDA loans and details about the loans, contact us at 910-672-7296.

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The Difference Between Due Diligence and Earnest Money

What Is The Difference Between Due Diligence Money and Earnest Money?

If you are shopping for a home and are hearing terms you aren’t familiar with such as due diligence money and earnest money, you might be wondering what the difference between the two is, how they affect you, how much they will cost you, and if you can get your money back if the contract is cancelled. This article should help answer some of your questions starting with the difference between due diligence money and earnest money.

“Due Diligence” is the buyer’s opportunity to engage in a process of further investigation of the property and the transaction as described in the Offer to Purchase form within a period of time agreed to by the seller and buyer. The buyer will want to inquire about anything bearing on a decision to either move forward with the contract or to terminate it.  Some common considerations of the “Due Diligence” period are; home, pest, and septic inspections, property survey, appraisal, title search, loan qualification and application, repair negotiation, etc. The buyer has until 5:00 PM on the expiration date of the due diligence period to terminate the contract for any or no reason at all. The due diligence fee is Non-Refundable however, if the buyer terminates the contract during the due diligence period, the Earnest money deposit is refundable.

Deciding how much due diligence time is needed requires thinking about how long it will take to schedule appointments for inspectors to come out and inspect the home and how long it takes to review documents like the HOA rules and regulations. During the due diligence time the buyer is able to cancel the contract for any reason, or no reason at all.  Due diligence money is non-refundable The good news is the money is typically credited towards the purchase of the home at closing.

Earnest money is “good faith” money. The buyer is showing the seller they are serious about buying the home.  If the seller is unable to fulfill the contract the buyer will get the earnest money back.  If the buyer is unable to fulfill the contract the seller can keep the earnest money.  Earnest money is refundable if the contract is cancelled within the due diligence time period and is credited toward the purchase at closing if the sale goes through.

In general, there is no definite amount set for due diligence or earnest money.   The amount of earnest money paid could be a percentage of the purchase price but both the due diligence fee and earnest money deposit will be decided between the buyer and seller and written into the contract.

For more information, please visit http://www.ncrec.gov/Brochures/EarnestMoney.pdf
North Carolina Offer to Purchase and Contract, standard form 2-T Revised 1/2015

“Due Diligence” Questions and Answers

Contact us for more information about how much earnest money is required to start building a new home.

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Laminate Floors vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors

By Amy Kahler and Charmaine Simmons

Laminate flooring is fast becoming a popular choice over engineered hardwood floors for homeowners across North America because of its durability and cost effectiveness, both important aspects to consider in today’s economy. Laminate is also more environmentally friendly and easy to install.

The core of laminate flooring is made of highly pressurized wood fibers, agricultural waste and resin. A decorative paper is added to the surface and covered with a durable melamine resin. The special backing creates a moisture barrier, making it the ideal flooring choice for kitchens, bathrooms and basements.

Laminate typically has three rating levels, based on the use of the room it will be installed in. Low-use laminate is perfect for the bedroom or similar rooms that have low traffic. Average-use is made for the rooms that the whole family frequents, but where the flooring wouldn’t receive as much abuse, such as living rooms and dining rooms. High-traffic laminate is designed for just that, heavy traffic. This rating is ideal for rooms where durability is most important, such as kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

Many people look to solid hardwood because of its natural beauty and use of all natural materials. This type of flooring is comprised of solid pieces of wood, but homeowners may want to consider which room they are planning to place it in. Solid hardwood floors do not hold up to water and moisture well. When placed in a high humidity environment, the boards will warp and buckle over time. Homeowners should check to see if the materials were obtained in a sustainable forest in order to maintain an environmentally friendly project.

Although engineered hardwood is made similar to laminate (with a high density core), its top layer consists of a thin piece of natural wood covered by several layers of veneer. Both engineered hardwood and laminate flooring are comparable in durability, but there’s a distinct difference in price-point. Laminate varies in price from $1-$6 per square foot whereas engineered hardwood costs anywhere from $5-$15 per square foot, depending on the finish and type of wood. That’s a considerable difference especially if you’re planning to cover hundreds of square feet.

Thanks to today’s technological advances, laminate flooring has come a long way from the boring designs and feel of the 1980s. Homeowners can now enjoy a floor that looks, feels and sounds like real wood without having to empty their wallet.

Source: http://www.house-energy.com/Floors/Laminate.htm ; http://cleanmyspace.com/hardwood-vs-laminate-vs-engineered-hardwood-floors-whats-the-difference/

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How To Replace an HVAC Air Filter

Bob and Sue’s Home Maintenance Tips

Part 1: How to replace an HVAC air filter
By Bob and Sue Russo

The “return air intake” in your home sucks the air from inside your home back into your HVAC unit, which keeps your house toasty in the winter and cool in the summer. If the air filter is clogged, your HVAC unit needs to work harder to keep you toasty or cool and your utility bill will take a hit. Note:  You may also hear the term “return air intake” referred to as the “cold air return”. Old-time, northern transplants may use the second term, because they are more accustom to using furnaces. If you have a new home in North Carolina you have an HVAC system. This article with video will show you how to replace an HVAC air filter in just a few minutes.

We just heard a story tonight about a young couple that called their HVAC repairman because their house wasn’t staying a comfortable temperature, only to find out that they needed to change their air filter. They were charged $100 for this service. You can do this yourself for just a few bucks.

The return air intake has a filter that (according to most manufacturers) should be changed monthly but you can purchase filters that are rated to change once a month or every three months.  The return air intake filter reduces dust particles in your home, so if you can write your name in the dust on your coffee table, you’re probably overdue.  Another dead giveaway, is if your return air intake looks like the photo on the right below. YIKES!

HVAC air filter cover

You might want to put this job on your calendar just like you would a doctor or dentist appointment. We change ours about every three months because we buy three-month filters.

If you have a large or multi-level home, you most likely have more than one return air intake.  The same information will apply to all of them.

(PLEASE NOTE In some older homes, the air filter is located directly in the HVAC Unit or furnace. Please refer to your owner’s manual for your HVAC Unit or furnace if you do not have a filtered return air intake as shown above.)

To change the HVAC air filter, please follow the steps below.

  1. Locate your return air intake and open the door by releasing the clips usually located at the top of the frame.The disposable air filter rests just inside the frame.
  2. Make note of what size filter you have. Ours is 20 x 25 inches. You will need to do this for every return air intake in the house. They may not all be the same size.  Leave the filter in place, close the door and latch…we’re ready to go shopping.
  3. Go shopping! You can buy air filters at Target, Walmart, Home Depot or Lowes etc. We like to buy several and have them on hand. We personally prefer to use the mid-priced filters, but you can buy washable filters for a little more money.

HVAC air filters

We just got back from shopping and realized how confusing this would be for first time home owners. Here’s the net of it. Any of these filters that are the right size, in our case 20 x 25 inches will work. The bottom shelf of this display shows the least expensive filters. These filters need to be changed on a monthly basis. The middle and top shelf filters are three-month filters. The only difference between the middle shelf filters and the top shelf filters is price and how much gunk they actually filter out of the air in your home. We have tried the higher priced filters, but in our experience they clogged up faster and seemed to diminish the air intake slightly. (We are not professional HVAC repair people, so if this point troubles you, you can always refer to your HVAC manual to see what they suggest.)  There is one more option that we have never tried; washable filters. The mid-range filters that we buy cost about $4.00. The washable filters cost about $10.00. With the washable filters, instead of changing the filter, you remove them, separate the screening from the frame and hose the screening off until it runs clear and then reinsert the same filter. This idea sounds like it would be good for the environment, but we looked these up on several HVAC sites and they were not recommended. They indicated that your filter traps bacteria and fungus as well as dust. Rinsing these off does not remove the bacteria and fungus. If you really want to go green there were some suggestions to get around this, for example buy two sets of filters for every return air intake in your home and alternate the washed filter out every other change.  Since we lack the experience with washable filters we would suggest that you follow the recommendations in your HVAC owner’s manual. If they tell you not to use them…don’t use them.   

We should also note that most HVAC Manufacturers don’t recommend HEPA filters because of the dense filtration material used in HEPA filters. Your HVAC units may not be sized to handle the pressure dropped caused by a HEPA filter. The more your filter filters, the harder your HVAC system needs to work. This could cause wear on your HVAC unit and/or your house may not stay so toasty or cool.  Your best bet is to go with the least expensive standard three-month filter. 

  1. Okay now comes the easy part….Installation! Open the door on the cold air return and remove the old filter. Place the new filter in so that the arrows for “air flow” are pointed into the opening. Guide the filter back into the frame and close the door and latch. That’s it!

Change HVAC air filter

Enjoy your beautiful new McKee Home! Bob and Sue