Choosing the ideal 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 crucial function in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about creating good indoor air quality for your home.
The health of your family is important to the heating professionals at B & G HVAC. We've long focused on improving indoor air quality in Marshalltown. 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 Should I Replace My Furnace Air Filter?
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 more energy to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend examining your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will coated with dirt or dust. Those who have pets that shed will very likely need 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 commonly installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
Is My Furnace Filter Just a Type of Air Filter?
The straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are effectively the same. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making sure the air flowing through your home is clean and safe.
What Are MERV Ratings and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you find your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be changed, it’s time to pick 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 measures the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating enhanced capabilities 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 overly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions may need to use a filter with a higher MERV rating.
Where to Insert the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioning System
Installing 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 supposed to face a certain direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing at 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, be sure that the arrow points toward the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cellular 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 handy time to do this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance appointment.
Changing Your Furnace's Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make sure to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate 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 similarly.
- Remove the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Note the date: Write down the date you changed filters on the new filter's frame. This will make it easier to keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- 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 lock it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely in place, 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 stop working or limit its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.