Picking out 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 crucial part in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing good indoor air quality for your household.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC specialists at Point Heating & Cooling. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Plover. 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?
When to Replace the Air Filter in Your 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 pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend checking 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. People who have pets will very likely want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
How to Find the 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 goes back into 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 furnace model, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically 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 your furnace.
Are Air Filters and Furnace Filters the Same Thing?
The easy 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— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making sure the air distributed throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Are MERV Ratings and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you locate your old furnace filter and decide when it should be changed, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV stands 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 higher numbers indicating a greater ability to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions might need a a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioning System
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is important for the efficient operation of the unit. 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 in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to install an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cellular 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 do this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Replace Your Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make a point to turn off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found 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 new filter to point the same way.
- Take out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or debris.
- 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 another replacement.
- 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 replacement filter is properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Damage My Furnace?
The simple answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease working or reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.