Picking out the right 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 vital role in keeping its system operating safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about delivering excellent indoor air quality for your household.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC specialists at Farris Heating & Air. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Bartlesville. 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
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest inspecting your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will filled with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have dogs and cats will very likely need to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
How to Find the Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is commonly located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This is so air entering the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, within the furnace. It's typically housed in 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 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 basically the same. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— warm or chilly months—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove 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 the MERV Rating System and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you locate your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be replaced, it’s time to pick 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 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 greater numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an ideal balance between having healthy indoor air quality without unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions could need a a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioning System
Positioning an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is crucial for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters are supposed to face a particular 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 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 certain the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to install their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cellular phone after the filter has been accurately 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 perfect time to inquire about this is during a routine furnace maintenance visit.
Changing Your Furnace's Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Be sure to switch off your furnace before starting the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned 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 clean filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or dirt.
- Note 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 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 securely and close any latches or clips that lock it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is completely installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause Problems for a Furnace?
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 conditioning filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system running correctly.