Choosing 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 part in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the heating pros at ACS Heating and Air Conditioning. We've long worked with an eye on bettering indoor air quality in Tucker. 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
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Dirt-clogged filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest checking your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will coated with dirt or dust. Those who have pets that shed will very likely want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a good 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 gets to the furnace. This makes sure air entering the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, within the furnace. It's generally housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts 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 conditioner filter are effectively the same. While they might be called 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 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 substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV stands 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 tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions might 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 properly is necessary for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are designed to be installed in a certain direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at 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, make certain the arrow points toward the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to point their air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your cellular 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 be installed. A perfect time to ask about this is during a regular furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to remove a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to shut off your furnace before starting 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 replacement filter to point in the same direction.
- Take out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Note the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- 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 old filter you are replacing.
- 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 new filter is properly installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The shortest 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 simplest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.