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 part 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 slows airflow, which can damage your furnace and shorten its life span.
Making sure 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 creating excellent indoor air quality for your household.
Your health is important to the HVAC professionals at Freed Heating & Air Conditioning. We've long been dedicated to enhancing indoor air quality in Moline. Here, we’ve answered common 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
Experts stress it's important to replace dirty air filters in a furnace or air conditioner regularly. Dirty filters cause the system to worker harder than it should because it takes extra effort to move 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 it is dirty because it will filled with dirt or dust. Those 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 commonly located in the return air duct or blower compartment before the return air goes back into the furnace. This makes sure air flowing into the system is filtered before it passes 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, within the furnace. It's generally 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 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 basically the same. While people may call them different things based on the current season— hot or cold—they are all filters that clean the air in your HVAC system.
They each remove dust, allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from the air that is drawn into the furnace and air conditioning system, ensuring the air circulating 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 replaced, it’s time to pick a replacement. That means deciding on the level of filtration that you need. One way to do that is by picking 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 particles. The rating scale ranges from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating a greater ability 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
Installing an air filter in a furnace or air conditioner correctly is crucial for the efficient operation of the unit. Air filters have a specific direction, indicated by an arrow written on the side of the filter frame. The filter should be put in with this arrow pointing at 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 sure the arrow points toward the furnace or air conditioning unit.
Many people struggle with which direction to install an air filter. To help remember, consider taking a picture with your cellular phone after the filter has been accurately 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 regular furnace maintenance appointment.
How to Change a Furnace Air Filter
Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is an easy process. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to retreive a dirty air filter and swap it for a new one:
- 1. Turn off your furnace: Make a point to switch off your furnace before beginning the process.
- Locate the furnace filter: Typically, the filter is located within 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 similarly.
- Take out the old filter: Be mindful 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 your family keep track of when it's time for another replacement.
- 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 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 compartment.
- Turn on your furnace: Once the new filter is safely secured, 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 cease working or shorten its lifespan. Changing your furnace or air conditioning filter is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your system working efficiently.