Man replaces air filter behind panel.

A Guide to Changing Your Furnace Filter

A Guide to Changing Your Furnace Filter

A Guide to Changing Your Furnace Filter

One of the best ways to stay warm while breathing fresh air during winter is by changing your furnace filter. Unlike new with furnace installations, switching the filter is relatively straightforward, but there are a number of things you should keep in mind.

What Happens if You Don’t Change the Filter?

If you neglect to change your filter for long periods of time, the airflow will become restricted. Additionally, you’ll notice a decline in indoor air quality. When dirt and dust particulates clog up the filter your system will have to work much harder to heat the space. This in turn will eventually cause maintenance issues which at it’s worst can lead to a total system failure. Your energy bill might rise significantly, especially during winter and those with allergies or respiratory issues such as asthma will be likely experience more symptoms. 

When is the Best Time to Change the Filter?

Energy Star recommends changing your furnace filter every three months. During winter you might want to change it more often since you’ll be using the heat with greater frequency. Things such as dust and pet dander are more likely to clog the filter when it is heavily used. A visual inspection of your filter will be telling on whether or not it needs to be changed. If you do have an extra filter ready you can always compare them side by side to gauge the amount of dirt, dust and air particles that have been caught on the old filter. 

Changing your furnace filter is easy to do. Photo shows new air filter compared to old dirty air filter.

Steps for Correctly Changing It

For extra safety it is best to power down your system. Once this is done, the filter can typically be located next to your air handler. In most cases, it will be vertically positioned behind the access panel by the furnace bottom. You’ll now want to extract the old filter. When doing so, pay close attention to the dimensions which are printed in its frame. This is important because the replacement filter must match the size in order for your system to operate properly. When the replacement filter is put in, it should have a snug fit but not be so tight it is hard to slide out. Additionally, when putting in the filter you’ll want to look at the arrows along the frame, as these will demonstrate the correct directional airflow.

There are numerous options available when it comes to purchasing air filters. There are disposable filters that come with pleated paper as well as fiberglass varieties. Some people like filters that are washable and reusable since they consider them to be more environmentally friendly. Another thing you’ll want to check when shopping around for a filter is the MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting value, as this will reveal the filter’s capacity to capture different sized particles. 

What is the Best Method for Cleaning Reusable Filters?

Those that decide to clean their reusable filter rather than replace it want to be sure to do so properly. You’ll need to vacuum them first then rinse them thoroughly to eradicate all the debris. Equally important, you’ll want to wait for the filter to totally dry before reinstalling it. By replacing or cleaning your filter regularly, you’ll keep your heating system and indoor air at optimal levels.

Do you have questions on your furnace? Know you can give us a call at 1-800-998-4311 to talk to one of our experts and schedule your annual tune-up.