Selecting the right 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 critical part in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about creating excellent indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the HVAC specialists at B&D Air Conditioning. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Safford. 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 vital 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 advise inspecting your furnace filter every 30 days 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 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 found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This ensures air entering the system is filtered before it goes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's usually 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 easy answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioner 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 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 find your old furnace filter and determine 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 picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating measures the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating a greater ability to filter smaller particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having adequate indoor air quality without unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions may need a 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 properly is important for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are supposed to face a particular direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure 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 certain the arrow points at the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to point an air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your mobile 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 be installed. A handy time to ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a simple 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.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located inside 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.
- Slide out 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 help your family 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 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 hold it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is properly 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 quit working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.