Selecting the ideal 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 role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to circulate 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 suitable for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about delivering good indoor air quality for your home.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the heating and cooling pros at Titan Heating & Air Conditioning. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Central Point. 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 critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Dirty 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 be gray or black from dirt or dust. Those who have pets will likely want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a quality air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
Locating Your Furnace's Air Filter
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 makes sure air flowing into the system is filtered before it goes 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, on the inside of the furnace. It's generally housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details about filter location of your furnace.
Are Air Filters and Furnace Filters the Same Thing?
The straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioning filter are essentially the same. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your residence.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Are MERV Ratings and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you track down your old furnace filter and determine when it should be changed, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by picking 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 particles. 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 good indoor air quality without overly restricting airflow. However, people with specific health conditions may need to purchase a filters with a higher MERV rating.
Where to Insert the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is important for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are designed to be installed in a certain direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or air conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, remember that air always moves from the return duct and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points toward the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people are confused by which direction to install their air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo with your mobile 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 point. A perfect time to ask about this is during a regular furnace maintenance appointment.
Changing Your Furnace's Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or AC is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to remove a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Make sure to shut off your furnace before starting the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found inside 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 replacement filter to point the same way.
- Remove the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Document the date: Write down the date you replaced the filter on the new filter's frame. This will help your family 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 toward the furnace, which is the direction of airflow and should be the same direction the arrow pointed on the dirty filter you just removed.
- 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 properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The simple answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to stop working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system running effectively.