If you’re a first-time homeowner, you might not realize there’s a filter in your furnace that needs changing. And even if you do, you might not know it needs to be replaced every few months to keep your furnace running at peak efficiency—and to help prevent pollutants from entering your living space.
The filter in your furnace helps keep your home’s air cleaner and your heating and cooling systems running more efficiently. When it gets dirty, it doesn’t ventilate as it should which can cause more allergens and dust to circulate throughout your home. By cleaning and replacing filters regularly, you can keep your air quality at its best.
Fortunately, replacing a furnace filter is a pretty simple task, once you know what you’re doing. There are ways to botch the job, however, for example by buying the wrong furnace filter or putting it in backwards, which could block the flow of air instead of cleaning it. Here’s how to do the job properly…
In forced-air furnaces, the filter is located at the air return. In electric or gas furnaces, the filter is in the furnace unit. Find your filter and remove it. A good way to see if it needs to be changed is to hold it up to the light. If you can see through it easily, place it back in the unit. If you cannot see through it, you will need to clean or replace it.
You can clean plastic or metal air filters. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the filter and put it back in your system. If you have a fiberglass filter, you will need to purchase a replacement. the size and type should be written on the filter itself – make note of this and take it with you to your local home-improvement or hardware store.
When reinstalling your filter, make sure you install it in the same direction you removed it from. Most filters are marked with indicator arrows to make reinstallation easy.
You should check your air filters monthly in the summer and winter. If you want to prolong the time between filter replacements, 90-day filters are also available.