Picking out the ideal 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 crucial role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making certain 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 delivering healthy indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the heating pros at Northern Comfort Inc. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Mankato area. 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 vital 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 extra work to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend checking your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will coated with dirt or dust. Those who have pets that shed will probably have 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 usually installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This ensures air being pulled into the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace brand, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's generally housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information about 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 effectively identical. While people may call them different things based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris 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 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 replaced, it’s time to select a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by picking 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 greater numbers indicating the power to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions may need to purchase a filters 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 properly is crucial for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters have a specific direction, indicated by an arrow located 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 doubtful 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 at the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to install their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cell 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 perfect time to do this is during a regular furnace maintenance visit.
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 remove a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to turn off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found in 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 new filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Note the date: Write down the date of replacement on the new filter's frame. This will help your family keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- 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 the old filter you are replacing.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits securely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is safely in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to stop working or limit its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system working correctly.