Choosing the correct furnace filter and changing it when it is 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 operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing healthy indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the heating professionals at Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling. We've long worked with an eye on improving indoor air quality in Circleville. 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
It is critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend checking 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 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 makes sure air entering the system is filtered before it goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's usually housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information concerning filter location of your particular brand and model of 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 air conditioning filter are essentially identical. While they might be called different things based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your residence.
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 circulating 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 determining the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by choosing 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 particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating the power to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions could 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 crucial for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters have a particular direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points at the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to face their air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cellular phone after the filter has been accurately 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 inquire about this is during a routine furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or AC is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Look for 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 similarly.
- Take out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document 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 you to change it again.
- Put 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 secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is properly secured, 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 decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.