Choosing the correct furnace filter and changing it when it gets dirty is as important to your HVAC system as changing the oil is to your car. Each plays a crucial role in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about providing healthy indoor air quality for your household.
The health of your family is important to the HVAC specialists at Vogts Heating & Air. We've long worked with an eye on bettering indoor air quality in Pocatello. 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 is important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise 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. Homeowners who have pets that shed will probably need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective 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 commonly found 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 type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's usually housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about filter location of your particular brand and model of 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 AC filter are effectively the same thing. While they might be called different things based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove 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 determine when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by choosing an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating indicates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating the power to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having adequate indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with specific health conditions may need to purchase a filters with a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Positioning an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is important for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a certain direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct 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 install their air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cellular 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 point. A great time to inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is an 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 sure to switch off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located inside 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 replacement filter to point in the same direction.
- Take out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document the date: Write down the date of replacement 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.
- Slide in 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 secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new 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 quit working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system working effectively.