Picking out the right 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 critical part in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Making sure 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 providing good indoor air quality for your residence.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the heating and cooling specialists at Farris Heating & Air. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Bartlesville. Here, we’ve answered frequent 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 vital to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Dirt-clogged filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise examining your furnace filter every 30 days 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 dogs and cats will likely 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 commonly found in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's usually housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
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 conditioner filter are basically the same thing. 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 get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates 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 locate your old furnace filter and decide 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 approach to this is by choosing an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating calculates 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 small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having good 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
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner the proper way is necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. 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 installed with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people have difficulty remembering 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 do 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 retreive a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to turn off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located in 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 new filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be mindful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Record 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 another replacement.
- Put in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing at 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 correctly and close any latches or clips that secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is safely installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to quit working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system operating efficiently.