Picking out the proper 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 part in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to flow 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 ideal for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about providing excellent indoor air quality for your home.
Your health is important to the heating professionals at Bell Air Conditioning Inc. We've long focused on improving indoor air quality in Temple/Belton . Here, we’ve answered frequent 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 effort to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest examining your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will coated with dirt or dust. People who have pets will very 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 usually installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to 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 type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, within the furnace. It's generally housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information regarding filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The easy answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are basically identical. While they might be called different things based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air distributed 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 decide when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating indicates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with greater 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 adequate indoor air quality without unnecessarily 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
Positioning an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are supposed to face 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 toward the furnace or air conditioner, 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 towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points toward the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to face an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cellular 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 perfect time to do this is during a routine furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or AC is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to turn off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate 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 clean filter to point in the same direction.
- Remove the old filter: Be mindful 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 make it easier to keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- Slide in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing at 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 secure it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely 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 cease 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.