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 vital function in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC pros at Air Service Co.. We've long focused on bettering indoor air quality in Muldrow. 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. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest checking 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. People who have pets will very likely need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective 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 commonly located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches 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 located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about 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 AC 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 contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air circulating throughout 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 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 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 indicates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating the power to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with specific health conditions could need to use a filter with a higher MERV rating.
How to Place the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioning System
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are designed to be installed in a particular direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or air conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to face 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 point. A handy time to ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to retreive a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make a point to turn off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located 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 new filter to point in the same direction.
- Slide out the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Note the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- 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 the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is safely secured, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The shortest answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to quit working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system working effectively.