Selecting the right 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 critical role in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also limits 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 merely about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about creating excellent indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the heating and cooling specialists at Dearing's Service & Solutions. We've long focused on bettering indoor air quality in Huntingburg. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that especially 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
It's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. 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 recommend examining your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if the filter needs to be changed because it will coated with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have dogs and cats will probably 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 normally located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into 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 located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's usually housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information regarding filter location of your 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 conditioner filter are basically the same. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
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 flowing through 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 substituted for a clean one, it’s time to select a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by picking 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 molecules. 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 ideal balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions could need to use a filter 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 unit. Air filters are designed to be installed in a certain direction, indicated by an arrow located on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or air conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure 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 sure the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people struggle with which direction to point their air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your mobile phone after the filter has been accurately 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 ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to shut off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found inside 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 replacement filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Document the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter 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 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 securely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is properly 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 quit working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.