Picking out the proper 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 vital role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about delivering excellent indoor air quality for your home.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC professionals at Jack's Heating, Cooling, Stoves & Fireplaces. We've long worked with an eye on bettering indoor air quality in Alliance. Here, we’ve answered frequent 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
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest examining 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. Those who have pets will likely need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a quality 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 installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This makes sure air flowing into the system is filtered before it passes 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 generally housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding filter location of the furnace in your home.
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 conditioning filter are basically the same. 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 HVAC system.
They each get rid of 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 decide when it should be changed, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by picking 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 molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having healthy indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions could 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 important for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a particular direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points toward the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to point their air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your mobile phone after the filter has been properly 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 ask about this is during a regular furnace maintenance visit.
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 take out 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 the process.
- Locate 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 clean filter to point similarly.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Document 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.
- Slide in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing at 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 securely and close any latches or clips that hold it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is safely installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The shortest answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease 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.