Picking out the ideal 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 crucial part in keeping its system operating 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 restricts 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 healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the HVAC pros at Strine's. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in York. 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
It is important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra effort to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise checking 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 pets that shed will probably have 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 goes back into the furnace. This ensures air being pulled into the system is filtered before it goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace brand, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's usually housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient 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 straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are essentially the same thing. While people may call them different things based on the current season— warm or chilly months—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris 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 decide when it should be changed, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating indicates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having healthy 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
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is crucial for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are designed to be installed in a specific direction, indicated by an arrow located on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, 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 air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo 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 go. A handy time to ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to retreive 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 the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located inside 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 clean filter to point in the same direction.
- Slide out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Document the date: Write down the date you changed filters on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for you to change it again.
- 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 correctly and close any latches or clips that hold it in the compartment.
- 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 stop working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.