Picking out 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 vital role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A dirty furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and decrease its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about delivering healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
The health of your family is important to the HVAC pros at I-Deal HVAC. We've long been dedicated to improving indoor air quality in Albuquerque. 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 vital to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner routinely. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to force air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials recommend 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 filled with dirt or dust. Those who have dogs and cats will probably need 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 gets to the furnace. This is so air flowing into the system is filtered before it moves through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace model, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's generally housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for simple access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts concerning filter location of your particular brand and model of furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The simple answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or AC filter are basically the same. While they might be called different things based on the current season— summer or winter—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, making sure the air flowing through 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 replaced, it’s time to select a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by selecting an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating indicates 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 small 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
Installing 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 put in with this arrow pointing at the furnace or air conditioning unit, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, it may be helpful to remember that air always moves from the return duct to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, be sure that the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or AC.
Many people struggle with which direction to point their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cell 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 go. A perfect time to inquire about this is during a scheduled furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step rundown of how to take out a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to shut off your furnace before starting the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned 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 clean filter to point similarly.
- Take out the old filter: Be diligent 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 the next change.
- Put in new filter: Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing in the direction of 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 nicely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is completely installed, you can turn your furnace back on.
Will a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Furnace Not to Work?
The shortest answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to cease working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system operating correctly.