Discover how to install furnace air filters with ease in our comprehensive guide. Ensure optimal indoor air quality and HVAC performance.
HVAC and furnace systems do a wonderful job of allowing a homeowner to control their inside home climate. At the same time, the design of these systems also provides clean air inside a home, regardless of what might be blowing around outside. That said, the ability to make a home comfortable depends highly on the filtering of the air as it comes into the furnace or HVAC. So, changing the air filter on a regular basis is a very smart idea and highly recommended.
The Benefits of Regular Filter Changing
Furnace systems and other air climate control assemblies work best with clean air. Contaminants, pests, dirt, and dust get into the parts and increase their wear and tear noticeably. Additionally, it also causes the system to work harder, which strains parts and may cause them to break faster, especially with older furnaces and HVACs. Expert after expert agrees that the number one way to help a heating system last as long as possible involves changing the air filter regularly to remove trapped materials and dirt.
Air filters are relatively inexpensive for the improvements they provide. For a few dollars every month, the protection an air filter gives is easily paid back with damage prevention and years on a furnace or HVAC’s life expectancy.
Types of Furnace Air Filters
When it comes to choosing a furnace air filter, homeowners have several options to consider, each offering different levels of filtration efficiency and longevity:
- Fiberglass Filters: These are the most common and affordable type of furnace air filters. While they provide basic filtration for larger particles, they are less effective at capturing smaller particles like bacteria and viruses.
- Pleated Filters: Pleated filters offer superior filtration compared to fiberglass filters due to their larger surface area and denser material. They are capable of trapping smaller particles and have a longer lifespan.
- HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters: HEPA filters are the gold standard in air filtration, capable of capturing up to 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. They are ideal for households with allergy or asthma sufferers and provide the highest level of indoor air quality.
Installing the Air Filter in a Furnace
Wondering how to install an air filter in a furnace? While the HVAC air filter is usually positioned at some central point where the air intake into the system occurs, usually in the ceiling of a hallway or a closet, the furnace air filter may be located in or next to the furnace itself. In both cases, the filter is the final block of problems and grit before air goes into the system to be used and then heated. As a result, the entire intake channel fits snugly around the filter, which is a framed sheet of fiber and mesh designed to catch microscopic particles and larger ones.
The First Step
The first step is to obtain a new filter and make sure it’s the right size. The furnace model information should spell out the exact size needed. If not available or unsure, the existing filter will have the sizing on the side of the frame on an easy display, which can be used to find the correct replacement. Most larger hardware stores have a full stock and selection, but uncommon sizes may be harder to find in smaller stores. It’s a good idea to get a multipack when buying filters. They tend to be cheaper per unit when bought in bulk, and it allows a homeowner to have a spare on hand with fewer trips to the store per month.
A homeowner will find there are lots of different filter choices. Some are basic, and some are premium filters with added protection. It’s a safe rule of thumb to go midstream if unsure. The cheapest filters will fail the fastest. Midstream cost filters are very good and work for most homes. Where there are breathing sensitivities, such as asthma, premium filters are the best choice.
The second step, with a replacement filter ready to go, involves turning off the system. HVAC systems are fairly easy. Just turn off the demand at the wall control unit. A stand-alone furnace, however, is a bit more complicated. The furnace itself needs to be turned off and disconnected first. This avoids machine damage as well as a possible heat blast risk to the person. Note the arrows on the new filter frame and which direction the air flow should go; this dictates how it should be installed in the furnace. Remove the protection cover, then remove the old filter once it is located and install the new one. Close the cover. Make sure everything is locked up before leaving. Put the old filter in a plastic garbage bag right away and remove it. Otherwise, all the dust it captures will fall everywhere in the house.
The final step is to turn the furnace back on. Connect the power source. Then initiate the turn-on for the system and confirm it’s running correctly.
Maintenance Tips for Furnace Air Filters
Regular maintenance is essential for ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your furnace air filter. Here are some maintenance tips to keep in mind:
- Check Monthly: Inspect your furnace air filter monthly and replace it as needed, especially during peak heating or cooling seasons.
- Use the Right Size: Always use the correct size of filter for your furnace to ensure proper fit and filtration efficiency.
- Upgrade Regularly: Consider upgrading to a higher-efficiency filter, such as a pleated or HEPA filter, for improved indoor air quality.
- Schedule Professional Maintenance: In addition to DIY maintenance, schedule annual HVAC inspections and maintenance with a licensed technician to ensure your system is operating efficiently.
How Frequently Should a Change Happen?
A filter change-out should happen every two or three months. However, where the outside air has been extremely dirty, such as in a nearby wildfire and related smoke, it’s a good idea to change the filter more frequently. Again, a filter is a very small cost compared to a furnace repair. A bit of prevention goes a long way toward avoiding bigger problems. And if unsure, always call a professional technician for filter-changing help!
Conclusion: Investing in Indoor Air Quality
In conclusion, furnace air filter installation is a simple yet crucial aspect of maintaining indoor air quality and optimizing HVAC system performance. By understanding the importance of air filtration, choosing the right type of filter, following proper installation procedures, and implementing regular maintenance practices, homeowners can enjoy cleaner, healthier air and prolong the lifespan of their HVAC systems. Remember, when it comes to indoor air quality, investing in preventive measures like furnace air filters is an investment in the health and comfort of your home.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. For specific recommendations regarding furnace air filter installation or HVAC maintenance, consult with a licensed HVAC technician.