Changing the Furnace Filter Often Provides Many Home Benefits
Furnace filters don’t just keep the air in your home clean; they also play a big role in determining energy costs. If you’re not sure when or how to change the filters in your furnace, consider the following.
Where is My Filter?
In general, your furnace filter will be located within the blower compartment; however, the actual location will vary depending on the installation of unit. The HVAC contractor may cut a slot in the return duct or install an air cleaner box. There is also a possibility your unit might have filters in the central return grill. The following guide should help you quickly find your filter. Just remember to always shut off the power at the main circuit breaker before you get started.
- Up-flow models where air moves upward: In these units, the filters are located in the bottom door blower compartment next to the cold air return. You will need to remove the top door first and then the bottom door. Once you swap out the filter, remember to re-install the bottom door over the furnace frame so it depresses the safety switch, or the furnace will not run.
- Down-flow models where air moves in a downward direction: With these units, the filters are positioned in the upper blower compartment. Most units will have a V shaped system that takes two filters. Install the filters into the plenum in a V shape, making sure to re-install the top door so it depresses the safety switch.
- Horizontal models: These furnaces almost always have a convenient slide-in filter rack built into the unit.
- Air handlers: In warmer regions of the country, homes may have air handlers instead of traditional furnaces. These are typically built with filter racks inside the unit. Most air handlers have central returns with built-in grills to hold a filter. Just be sure you do not have filters in both the grill and the air handle, or reduced air flow will lead to higher energy bills.
Installing the New Filter
Once you’ve identified the location of your furnace filter, replacement is easy. Simply slide the old one out and replace it with a fresh one. Make sure the air flow arrow is directed toward the blower or furnace motor. If you have a HEPA-style model, you will need to open the front of the media housing. Some HEPA furnaces also require pleat spacers, so be sure to order new ones if they become damaged.
When Should I Change My Filter?
It’s generally best to change your furnace filter every 30 to 60 days; however, you should consult your manufacturer’s manual to be sure. HEPA filters can last from two to four months; however, you may wish to change your filters earlier if:
- You have pets that regularly shed
- You notice dust building up in your home
- You live with a smoker
- Your heating fan runs frequently
- You regularly open your windows or doors
- You see dirt or dust buildup on the current filter
You should also consider changing your filters more often if you or a family member has asthma or a respiratory illness.
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