Choosing the proper 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 function in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, enabling potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is ideal for your needs is not merely about keeping your furnace operating efficiently. It’s also about providing good indoor air quality for your residence.
The health of your family is important to the heating and cooling pros at A2Z Air Inc. We've long worked with an eye on enhancing indoor air quality in Boynton Beach. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that especially 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 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 recommend inspecting your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if your filter needs changing because it will filled with dirt or dust. Those who have pets that shed will likely 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 located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air gets to the furnace. This ensures 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 located on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's usually housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for facts about filter location of the furnace in your home.
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. 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 get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air distributed 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 figure out when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to choose 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 higher numbers indicating enhanced capabilities to filter smaller 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 may 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 the proper way is important for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters are supposed to face a certain direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be installed with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or AC, 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 to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make certain the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people are confused by which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cellular 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 be installed. A handy time to inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing 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 swap it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned within 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 the same way.
- 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 help you keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- 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 old filter you are replacing.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits securely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is completely secured, 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 reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or AC filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system working correctly.