Picking out the right furnace filter and changing it when it gets dirty is as important to your HVAC system as changing the oil is to your car. Each plays a critical function in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about delivering healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating professionals at County Line Mechanical LLC. We've long been dedicated to bettering indoor air quality in Reinholds. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that especially tricky question of what direction do you point a filter in your furnace or air conditioner?
How Often to Replace the Air Filter in a Furnace
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Dirt-clogged filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend checking your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will coated with dirt or dust. People who have dogs and cats will probably need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a good air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Where Is the Air Filter in My Furnace?
In general, a furnace air filter is normally located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information regarding filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioner filter are basically identical. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air distributed throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you track down your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to select a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with greater numbers indicating a greater ability to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good indoor air quality without unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions may need to purchase a filters with a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is crucial for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are supposed to face a particular direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing at the furnace or AC, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people are confused by which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your cellular phone after the filter has been correctly installed by a professional. Or, you also could ask a technician to use a marker to write on the outside of your furnace which direction the filter should be installed. A great time to inquire about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to retreive a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to turn off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found within the furnace or in the air return vent. Make a mental note or write down which direction the arrow points on the filter, because you’ll want the arrow on the new filter to point similarly.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Note the date: Write down the date of replacement on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- Put in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing in the direction of the furnace, which is the direction of airflow and should be the same direction the arrow pointed on your last filter.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits nicely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system working effectively.