Selecting 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 function in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to flow through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace operating 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 HVAC specialists at Tokay. We've long been dedicated to bettering indoor air quality in Lodi. Here, we’ve answered common 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
It is critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner periodically. Dirt-clogged filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra effort to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise examining your furnace filter every month and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if the filter needs to be changed because it will coated with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have pets will probably have to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective 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 located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This makes sure air being pulled into the system is filtered before it passes 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 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 straightforward answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioner filter are essentially the same thing. While people may call them different things based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
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 track down your old furnace filter and determine when it should be changed, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that 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 contaminants. 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 a good balance between having adequate indoor air quality without unnecessarily restricting airflow. However, people with certain 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
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is important for the efficient operation of the heating or cooling system. Air filters have a certain direction, indicated by an arrow located on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're unsure about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points at the furnace or AC.
Many people struggle with which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a 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 ask about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance visit.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or AC is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to switch off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned 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 replacement filter to point in the same direction.
- Remove the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document 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.
- 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 the old filter you are replacing.
- 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 clean filter is properly 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 limit its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system operating correctly.