Picking out the right 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 vital role in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce 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 home.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC professionals at Knoechel Heating. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Zelienople. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that very tricky question of what direction do you point a filter in your furnace or air conditioner?
When to Replace the Air Filter in Your Furnace
Experts stress it's 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 extra effort to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise inspecting your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will filled with dirt or dust. Those who have dogs and cats will likely want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Locating Your Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is normally installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This makes sure air flowing into the system is filtered before it goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts concerning 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 identical. 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 HVAC system.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air flowing through your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What Rating Is Best for Me?
Once you find your old furnace filter and determine when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is short 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 greater numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions might need a a higher MERV rating.
How to Place the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Positioning an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is crucial for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters are designed to be installed in a particular 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 conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points toward the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people are confused by which direction to install an air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your cell 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 go. A great time to ask about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to remove a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make sure to turn off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned inside 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 clean filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Note the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter on the new filter's frame. This will help your family keep track of when it's time for you to change it again.
- Put 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 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 clean filter is properly installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The simple answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently.