Selecting the proper 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 critical 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 move through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing good indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating pros at Hix Air Conditioning Service, Inc.. We've long worked with an eye on improving indoor air quality in Muskogee. Here, we’ve answered common 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 critical 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 pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend inspecting 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. Those who have pets will likely 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 normally installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This ensures air being pulled into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace brand, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's generally housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about filter location of the furnace in your home.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The simple answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are essentially the same thing. 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 eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain 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 figure out when it should be replaced, it’s time to select a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation 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 a greater ability to filter tinier 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 may need a 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 necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a certain direction, indicated by an arrow located 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, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to face their air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your cell 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 go. A great time to inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or AC is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to remove a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to turn off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found within 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 new filter to point the same way.
- Remove the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Record 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 you to change it again.
- Insert 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 nicely and close any latches or clips that lock it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is safely 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 cease working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running effectively.