Choosing the proper furnace filter and changing it when it gets 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 running safely, efficiently and for a long time.
An overused furnace filter loses its effectiveness, allowing potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also limits airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Ensuring your furnace uses a clean filter that is suitable for your needs is not just about keeping your furnace working efficiently. It’s also about creating healthy indoor air quality for your residence.
The health of your family is important to the heating and cooling specialists at Air Concepts of Middle Georgia. We've long been dedicated to improving indoor air quality in Milledgeville and Middle Georgia. 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 regularly. 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 suggest 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. People who have dogs and cats will likely have to replace their furnace air filter more often, because a quality 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 located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air reaches the furnace. This makes sure air entering the system is filtered before it passes through the furnace components and is heated.
Depending on the type of furnace, the filter may be found on the right, left, bottom or in some cases, on the inside of the furnace. It's usually housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information about 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 AC filter are essentially 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 home.
They each get rid of dust, allergens, bacteria and other particulates from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making sure the air distributed throughout your home is clean and safe.
What Is a MERV Rating and What MERV Rating Do I Need?
Once you locate your old furnace filter and decide when it should be substituted for a clean one, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means picking the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by selecting 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 molecules. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with greater numbers indicating a greater ability to filter tinier particles.
Experts say a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 offers an appropriate balance between having healthy indoor air quality without needlessly restricting airflow. However, people with specific 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
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is important for the efficient operation of the system. Air filters are designed to be installed in a specific direction, indicated by an arrow printed on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit with this arrow pointing toward the furnace or air conditioning unit, 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 toward the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people have difficulty remembering which direction to face their system's air filter. To help remember, consider taking a quick picture with your cell phone after the filter has been properly 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 great time to inquire about this is during a regular furnace maintenance call.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Replacing the filter on your furnace or AC is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to take out a dirty air filter and exchange it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Be sure to shut off your furnace before starting up the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is found inside 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 similarly.
- Slide out the old filter: Be careful not to knock out any dust or particles.
- Document the date: Write down the date you changed filters 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 toward the furnace, which is the direction of airflow and should be the same direction the arrow pointed on the dirty filter you just removed.
- Secure the filter: Make sure the new filter fits correctly and close any latches or clips that secure it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the clean filter is safely 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 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.