Picking out the correct 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 crucial 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 limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten 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 creating good indoor air quality for your residence.
Your health is important to the heating and cooling specialists at MPC Heating & Cooling. We've long worked with an eye on bettering indoor air quality in Chadron. 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
Experts stress it's vital 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 move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials suggest examining your furnace filter every 30 days and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will coated with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have pets will probably 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 normally located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to 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, within the furnace. It's generally housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information about filter location of your 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 essentially the same thing. While people may call them different things 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 airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making sure 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 changed, it’s time to select a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by selecting 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 bigger numbers indicating a greater ability 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 unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with some health conditions might 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 properly is necessary for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a specific direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, 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 air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to point an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cellular phone after the filter has been properly 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 great time to inquire about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or AC is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located in 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 new filter to point similarly.
- Remove the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Record 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 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 nicely and close any latches or clips that hold it in place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is completely installed, 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 best things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.