Choosing the proper furnace filter and changing it when it is dirty is as important to your HVAC system as changing the oil is to your car. Each plays a crucial function in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to move 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 operating efficiently. It’s also about providing excellent indoor air quality for your home.
The health of your family is important to the HVAC specialists at Age Heating & Cooling. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Sandpoint. Here, we’ve answered common 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
It is vital to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest checking your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will filled with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have dogs and cats will very likely have 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 usually found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This is so air entering the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information concerning filter location of your 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 AC filter are essentially identical. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— warm or chilly months—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you find your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be replaced, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by choosing an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating measures the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating the power to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having good indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions may need a a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are supposed to face a specific direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioning unit, 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 to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cell 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 point. A perfect time to ask about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to remove a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to switch off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned inside the furnace or in the air return vent. Take note of which direction the arrow points on the filter, because you’ll want the arrow on the replacement filter to point similarly.
- Remove the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document the date: Write down the date you changed filters on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for you to change it again.
- Insert 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 the dirty filter you just removed.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits nicely and close any latches or clips that secure it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely in place, 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 stop working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.