Picking out 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 vital part in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to circulate 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 suitable for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing excellent indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating pros at Halverson Brothers Inc. We've long been dedicated to bettering indoor air quality in Menomonie and western Wisconsin. Here, we’ve answered common questions about HVAC filters, including that very 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's critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest examining your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will filled with dirt or dust. People who have dogs and cats will probably want 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 found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This makes sure air entering the system is filtered before it moves 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, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed in a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about filter location of your 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 the same. 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 residence.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring 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 substituted for a clean one, it’s time to select a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with greater numbers indicating a greater ability to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions may need a 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 properly is important for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters have 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 at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people struggle with which direction to install their air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cell 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 be installed. A great time to do this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to remove a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to switch off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned in 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 similarly.
- Remove the old filter: Be mindful 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 make it easier to 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 your last filter.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits nicely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is safely secured, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will 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 shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.