Picking out the ideal 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 crucial part in keeping its system operating 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 shorten its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about delivering excellent indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating specialists at Aggressive Mechanical. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Neptune City. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that particularly 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 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 work to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend examining your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if the filter needs to be changed because it will coated with dirt or dust. People who have pets that shed will probably have to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a quality 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 installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to 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 brand, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, within the furnace. It's usually housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information concerning filter location of the furnace in your home.
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 effectively the same thing. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
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 circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you track down your old furnace filter and decide when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose 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 calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating a greater ability to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having adequate 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
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is important for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters are designed to be installed in 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 not sure about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points at the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to install their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick 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 be installed. A great time to ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to turn 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 the same way.
- Take out the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Document the date: Write down the date of replacement on the new filter's frame. This will help you keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- 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 securely and close any latches or clips that hold it in the compartment.
- 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 cease working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system operating effectively.