Selecting the correct furnace filter and changing it when it becomes dirty is as important to your HVAC system as changing the oil is to your car. Each plays a critical role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused 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 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 creating healthy indoor air quality for your home.
Your health is important to the heating and cooling specialists at E.B. Air. We've long worked with an eye on improving indoor air quality in East Bernard. 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?
When to Replace the Air Filter in Your Furnace
Experts stress it's critical 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 advise examining your furnace filter every month 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 dogs and cats will very likely need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a good air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Locating Your Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is usually located 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 goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information about filter location of your furnace.
Are Air Filters and Furnace Filters the Same Thing?
The easy answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or AC filter are essentially the same. 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 HVAC system.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air flowing through 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 decide when it should be replaced, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by selecting 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 molecules. 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 good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions might need a a higher MERV rating.
How to Place the Air Filter in a Furnace or AC Unit
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is important for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters have a specific direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at the furnace or AC, 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 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 point their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cell 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 go. A perfect time to ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Replace Your Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make a point to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found in 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 the same way.
- Take out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Record the date: Write down the date you changed filters on the new filter's frame. This will help your family 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 the dirty filter you just removed.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits correctly and close any latches or clips that hold it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Damage My Furnace?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to stop working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.