Selecting the right 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 function in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not only about keeping your furnace running efficiently. It’s also about delivering good indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the HVAC specialists at Speedy Air Conditioning. We've long focused on enhancing indoor air quality in Naples. Here, we’ve answered frequent 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
Experts stress it's critical to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Soiled filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra work to pull air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise inspecting your furnace filter monthly and replacing it if it’s dirty. You’ll know if it is dirty because it will filled with dirt or dust. Homeowners who have pets will very likely 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 normally installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This makes sure air entering the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the furnace brand, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's typically housed inside of a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details regarding filter location of your 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 identical. While they might be called different things based on the current season— warm or chilly months—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air distributed 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 decide when it should be changed, 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 calculates the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with bigger numbers indicating enhanced capabilities 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 certain health conditions could need to use a filter with a higher MERV rating.
Which Way to Put the Air Filter in a Furnace or Air Conditioner
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is crucial for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters are supposed to face a particular 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 conditioner, which is the direction of the airflow. If you're not sure about the airflow direction, try to remember that air always moves from the return duct and then to the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points toward the furnace or AC.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to point an air filter. To help remember, consider snapping a quick photo 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 ask about this is during a routine furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to retreive a dirty air filter and replace it with a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make sure to switch off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Look for the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found 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 clean filter to point the same way.
- Remove the old filter: Be diligent not to knock out any dust or debris.
- Note 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 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 place.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is completely 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 stop working or reduce its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.