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 critical part 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 shorten its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not just 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 HVAC pros at Home Comfort Heating & Air. We've long been dedicated to bettering indoor air quality in Elk River. 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?
How Often to Replace the Air Filter in a Furnace
Experts stress it's critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. 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 inspecting 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 pets that shed will probably want 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 installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This is so air being pulled into the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of 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 regarding filter location of your furnace.
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 conditioner filter are basically the same thing. While people may call them 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 eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates 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 find your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be replaced, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by selecting 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 molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly 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
Positioning an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is necessary for the efficient operation of the 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 put in with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to install an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture 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 great time to do this is during a regular furnace maintenance call.
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 rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to turn off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned 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 the same way.
- Remove the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document the date: Write down the date you changed filters 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 in the direction of the furnace, which is the direction of airflow and should be the same direction the arrow pointed on your last filter.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits correctly and close any latches or clips that lock it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is safely installed, 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 quit working or reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.