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 critical part in keeping its system running 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 decrease its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about delivering good indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating pros at Miller Climate Control LLC. We've long been dedicated to improving indoor air quality in Georgetown. Here, we’ve answered common 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
It is vital to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise inspecting your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will coated with dirt or dust. People who have pets 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 found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it passes 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, within the furnace. It's generally housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about filter location of your furnace.
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 AC filter are effectively the same thing. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove 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 find your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be changed, it’s time to select a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by selecting 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 contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having adequate indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions might 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 the proper way is crucial for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a specific 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 at the furnace or air conditioning unit, 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 and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people are confused by which direction to point their system's 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 point. A great time to inquire about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or AC is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to shut off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned in the furnace or in the air return vent. Make a mental note or write down which direction the arrow points on the filter, because you’ll want the arrow on the replacement filter to point in the same direction.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful 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 another replacement.
- Slide 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 the old filter you are replacing.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits correctly and close any latches or clips that lock it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is safely installed, 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 limit its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.