Picking out the correct 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 working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling 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 healthy indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the heating professionals at B&D Air Conditioning. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Safford. 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
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise inspecting your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will filled with dirt or dust. Those who have pets that shed will probably want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Locating Your Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is commonly installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace brand, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding filter location of the furnace in your home.
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 may call them different things based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates 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 Is the MERV Rating System and What Rating Is Best for Me?
Once you find your old furnace filter and determine when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to select a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this 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 molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions could need to purchase a filters with a higher MERV rating.
Where to Insert the Air Filter in a Furnace or AC Unit
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is necessary for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are designed to be installed in a particular direction, indicated by an arrow located on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, 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 and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people are confused by which direction to point their system's air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your cell 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 handy time to inquire about this is during a routine furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system 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:
- Turn off your furnace: Make sure to shut off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located within 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 clean filter to point similarly.
- Remove the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Record the date: Write down the date of replacement on the new filter's frame. This will help your family keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- Insert new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing in the direction of 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 lock it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is properly installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Damage My Furnace?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease working or reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system operating effectively.