Choosing the proper furnace filter and changing it when it becomes 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 running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about creating good indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating and cooling pros at Anderson Heating & A/C. We've long focused on enhancing indoor air quality in Carson City. Here, we’ve answered common 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
Experts stress it's important 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 extra work to move 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 the filter needs to be changed because it will be gray or black from dirt or dust. Those who have dogs and cats will very likely 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 usually found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This makes sure air being pulled 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, within the furnace. It's usually housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts regarding filter location of your furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioner filter are effectively identical. While they might be called different things based on the current season— warm or chilly months—they are all filters that clean the air in your residence.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air distributed 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 determine when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation 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 greater numbers indicating the power to filter smaller 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 could need to purchase a filters with 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 correctly is crucial for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters have a particular direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing in the direction of the furnace or AC, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to point an 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 point. A perfect time to inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or AC is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure 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. Take 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.
- Take out the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Record 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.
- Insert new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward 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 correctly and close any latches or clips that lock it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is safely in place, 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 stop working or reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system running correctly.