Selecting the correct 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 critical role in keeping its system working safely, efficiently and for a long time.
A clogged furnace filter loses its effectiveness, permitting potentially harmful particles to move through your home. It also slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and reduce its life span.
Making certain 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 delivering healthy indoor air quality for your home.
The quality of the air your family breathes is important to the HVAC specialists at Woody's Sudden Service. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Manassas. Here, we’ve answered frequent questions about HVAC filters, including that very tricky question of what direction do you point a filter in your furnace or air conditioner?
When Should I Replace My Furnace Air Filter?
It is critical 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 more energy to pull 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 coated with dirt or dust. People who have pets will probably want to replace their furnace air filter more often, because an effective air filter will trap pet hair circulating in a home.
How to Find the Furnace's Air Filter
In general, a furnace air filter is commonly installed in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This ensures air flowing into the system is filtered before it goes 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 typically housed within a slot, frame or cabinet for convenient access and replacement. Always refer to your furnace's owner manual for information regarding filter location of the furnace in your home.
Is My Furnace Filter Just a Type of Air Filter?
The simple answer is, yes. In HVAC, a furnace filter and an air filter or AC filter are effectively 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 residence.
They each eliminate dust, allergens, bacteria and other airborne debris from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, making certain the air flowing through your home is clean and safe.
What Are MERV Ratings and What MERV Rating Should I Have?
Once you locate your old furnace filter and decide when it should be changed, it’s time to choose a replacement. That means determining the level of filtration that you need. One approach to this is by choosing an appropriate MERV rating for your needs.
MERV is an abbreviation 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 bigger numbers indicating enhanced capabilities 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 overly restricting airflow. However, people with specific 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
Putting an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner properly is necessary for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters are supposed to face a specific direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be placed in the unit 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 towards the heat or cooling source. Therefore, make sure the arrow points at the furnace or air conditioner.
Many people struggle with which direction to install their 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 point. A handy time to do this is during a routine furnace maintenance visit.
Changing Your Furnace's Air Filter
Switching out the filter on your furnace or AC is a quick and easy process. Here is a step-by-step list of how to retreive a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- Turn off your furnace: Be sure to shut off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Find the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is positioned within the furnace or in the air return vent. Make 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 particles.
- Record 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 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 hold it in the unit.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the replacement filter is properly in place, you can turn your furnace back on.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Damage My Furnace?
The short answer is, yes, a dirty air filter can cause a furnace to quit working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running correctly.