Selecting the correct 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 vital part in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure 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 providing good indoor air quality for your residence.
The health of your family is important to the heating specialists at Northwest Services. We've long worked with an eye on bettering indoor air quality in Swanton. 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 critical 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 examining your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will filled with dirt or dust. People 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 found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This is so 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, inside the furnace. It's generally housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information concerning filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The easy answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or AC filter are basically the same thing. While they might be called different things 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 track down your old furnace filter and determine when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by choosing an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating the power 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 overly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions may need to use a filter 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 correctly is necessary 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 installed 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, try to 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 taking a picture with your mobile phone after the filter has been accurately 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 do this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to retreive a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to switch off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned inside 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 replacement filter to point similarly.
- Take out the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Record the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter on the new filter's frame. This will help your family keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- Insert 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 the dirty filter you just removed.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits correctly and close any latches or clips that lock it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The simple answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to stop working or limit its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system operating effectively.