Picking out 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 part in keeping its system running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to circulate through your home. It also restricts airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making certain your furnace uses a clean filter that is appropriate for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about delivering good indoor air quality for your home.
Your health is important to the HVAC professionals at GV Heating & Air. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Crystal and Twin Cities. 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
It is vital 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 more energy to move air through the plugged-up filter.
Officials advise inspecting your furnace filter every 30 days 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 probably need 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 installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This is so 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 positioned on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, inside the furnace. It's typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for easy access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for details concerning filter location of your furnace.
Is a Furnace Filter the Same as an Air Filter?
The easy answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or air conditioner filter are effectively the same. While people might refer to them differently based on the current season— summer or winter—they are all filters that clean the air in your home.
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, 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 track down your old furnace filter and figure out when it should be changed, it’s time to select a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One method to do this is by picking an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The MERV rating measures the effectiveness of air filters at trapping airborne contaminants. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating the power to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers a good balance between having good indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with certain health conditions might 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 the proper way is necessary for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are designed to be installed in a certain direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing toward 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, make sure the arrow points in the direction of the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to point 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 inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is a simple process. Here is a step-by-step rundown 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 starting up 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 replacement filter to point the same way.
- Slide out the old filter: Be diligent 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 you keep track of when it's time for the next change.
- 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 nicely and close any latches or clips that secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is safely 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 cease working or decrease its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioner filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running effectively.