Picking out the right 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 part in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about delivering excellent indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the HVAC professionals at Evenaire Heating & Air Conditioning. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Pflugerville. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that very 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 regularly. Dirt-clogged filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to move 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 the filter needs to be changed because it will be gray or black from dirt or dust. Homeowners who have pets that shed will likely have 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 normally found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This ensures air entering the system is filtered before it moves 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, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding 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 air conditioning filter are essentially 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 residence.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air distributed 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 figure out when it should be changed, it’s time to select 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 short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating the power to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having good indoor air quality without unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions could need a a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is crucial for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters have a certain direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing in the direction of 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 towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to point an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your mobile phone after the filter has been correctly 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 be installed. A handy 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 a simple 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: Be sure to switch 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. Make 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.
- Remove the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or debris.
- 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 the next change.
- Put 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 nicely and close any latches or clips that lock it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely 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 cease working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system working effectively.