Selecting the ideal 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 crucial part in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about creating healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
The health of your family is important to the heating specialists at HCE Systems. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Norton. Here, we’ve answered common questions about HVAC filters, including that very 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 important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise 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 pets will probably need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a quality air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Locating Your Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is normally found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This makes sure air being pulled into the system is filtered before it goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically 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 your particular brand and model of furnace.
Are Air Filters and Furnace Filters the Same Thing?
The straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are basically the same thing. 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 residence.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air flowing through your home is clean and safe.
What Are MERV Ratings and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you track down your old furnace filter and decide when it should be changed, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating measures the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions might need a a higher MERV rating.
Where to Insert the Air Filter in a Furnace or AC Unit
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is crucial for the efficient operation of the 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 placed in the unit with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, 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 AC.
Many people struggle with which direction to point their system's air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your mobile 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 handy time to inquire about this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Replace Your Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or AC is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to remove a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make a point to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located within 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 new filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Record the date: Write down the date of replacement on the new filter's frame. This will make it easier to keep track of when it's time for you to change it again.
- Slide 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 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 the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Cause Problems for a Furnace?
The shortest answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to stop working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.