Choosing the ideal 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 crucial role in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about providing healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating specialists at Titan Heating & Air Conditioning. We've long been dedicated to improving indoor air quality in Central Point. Here, we’ve answered frequent 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 important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes more energy to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest examining your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will filled with dirt or dust. People who have dogs and cats will very likely want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a good 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 installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This is so air being pulled into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for important information regarding filter location of your particular brand and model of 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 AC filter are basically the same thing. While people might refer to them differently 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 certain the air circulating throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you track down your old furnace filter and determine 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 way to do that is by selecting 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 a greater ability to filter small particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having adequate indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions could need a 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 the proper way is necessary for the efficient operation of the 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 conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're doubtful about the airflow direction, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people are confused by which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture 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 point. A handy time to do this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or AC is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to retreive a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to shut off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found in 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 similarly.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful 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 make it easier to keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- 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 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 place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement 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 quit working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the best things you can do to keep your system running effectively.