Want To Stay Toasty All Winter? Avoid These Four Furnace Filter Changing Issues

If the filter on your heating and air conditioning system is working properly, it increases the efficiency of your entire HVAC system. A dirty filter means less warm air soaring through your duct work, even though your furnace may be working just as hard. If you want to keep your toes comfortable throughout the winter season, make sure your filter is changed regularly and properly.

Basics Of Filter Changing

Filters should be checked at least once a month. If you can't see through the filter when you pull it and hold it up to the light, it needs to be changed. Most furnaces require filter changes at least every three months, but it's best to check the owner's manual. Older furnaces and other factors, such as wood-burning fireplaces, may also increase the frequency required. Minute particles of ash in the smoke get into your furnace's duct system, which can clog up the filter.

Four Issues To Avoid When Changing Filters

If you have even a minimal amount of DIY experience, changing a furnace filter can be an easy task. But, some filters are in odd positions or in closed systems that require the services of an HVAC professional. Here are four of the most common filter changing issues to avoid.

Using The Wrong Filter Size

Each HVAC system has a specific type and size of filter. Many are pre-cut and set into frames, usually made of cardboard. The filter size is printed on the frame. As long as you buy the same size as the filter that's already installed, the "wrong size" mistake is easy to avoid. It's a little more difficult with filters that come in bulk rolls that must be cut to size. If you're confident in your DIY measuring and cutting abilities, you should still be able to handle the challenge. But, you must fit the filter snugly in its holder to avoid air going around the filter instead of through it. Check your owner's manual for dimensions, or measure the filter holder space before cutting.

Installing The Filter Upside Down

Since most filters are designed for one-way airflow, installing your furnace filter upside down doesn't work. The framed filters have an arrow pointing in the right direction, so these are fairly simple. Just match up the arrow on that filter with the one on the furnace. On the bulk filters, take a look at the weave on both sides of the filter. You'll see that it is different. Check the owner's manual, ask "which way is up" when you buy the filter, or call a professional.

Getting A Low MERV Rated Filter

Filters that have a high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating pull more dust and dirt from the air than the lower quality filters. The ratings read from 1 through 16. Filters that are rated from 7 to 13 are considered more efficient for residential use. The lower rated filters usually cost less, but you will probably end up changing them more frequently. You aren't saving any money in the long run.

Not Changing A Dirty Filter

You've done your "light check" and you can't see through that filter in your hand. But, instead of changing it out, you pop it back into the furnace. Not a good idea. HVAC systems are designed to cycle on and off, not to run continuously. On an older furnace the on and off cycles may be obvious, but some of the newer models are designed to be quiet. In the latter case, your first hint that you have a problem may be an unusually high utility bill. First, change the filter. If that doesn't work, it's time to schedule a professional inspection of your furnace.

For more information, contact a company like Kohl Heating & Air Conditioning.

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