Choosing the right 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.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing excellent indoor air quality for your residence.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the heating and cooling pros at Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc.. We've long focused on enhancing indoor air quality in Branchville. Here, we’ve answered common questions about HVAC filters, including that particularly 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's vital 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 more energy to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise examining your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will coated with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have dogs and cats will 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 located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This ensures 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 located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's generally housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information about filter location of the furnace in your home.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The simple answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or AC filter are essentially identical. While they might be called different things based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making sure the air circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you locate your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be changed, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that 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 a greater ability to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions might 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 designed to be installed in a certain direction, indicated by an arrow located on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to face an air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo 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 inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to retreive a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to turn off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located within the furnace or in the air return vent. Make note of which direction the arrow points on the filter, because you’ll want the arrow on the clean filter to point the same way.
- Remove the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Record 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 you to change it again.
- Put in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward 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 securely and close any latches or clips that hold it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is safely 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 stop working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system working correctly.