How to change a furnace filter
Is your furnace keeping you warm when the temperature drops? Swapping out clogged filters is one of the most important furnace maintenance steps to make sure your home heating system is in good condition.
Dirty filters can lead to poor air flow and quality. When dust and dirt clog the filters, the system has to work harder to heat your spaces. This can bring on maintenance issues and system failures while also wasting energy and causing bills to rise. According to ENERGY STAR, you should change your filters every three months - and more frequently during the winter when the heat is on all the time. Other factors, such as the size of your family, pets or environmental influences, may clog filters at a more rapid pace. It's a good idea to check your furnace filter once a month to see if it needs replacing before the three-month mark.
Replacing the air filter will help keep your system happy between regular HVAC system tune-ups. Thankfully, most homeowners can handle this basic project.
Follow these three simple steps to replace your furnace filter:
1. Determine the type of filter
To get started, figure out what kind of filter your furnace uses. You'll find it inside the unit or the return air vent, usually behind a panel at the bottom of the furnace. Always remember to turn off the furnace before poking around inside! Once the unit is switched off, remove the existing filter and take note of the size that is printed on the cardboard frame. The new filter will need to match this size for the system to run efficiently.
2. Buy the replacement
Home improvement centers, hardware stores, local HVAC contractors and online retailers sell furnace filters. You can ask a salesperson for his or her opinion on which model is the most effective, or try different kinds until you find the one that works best in your home.
As long as it's the right size, you may want even want to consider a reusable air filter with a plastic frame. They're more environmentally friendly, as you won't need to keep buying replacements. Plus, reusable filters are easy to clean. All you need is a vacuum and water - and of course, wait until the filter is completely dry before putting it back inside the furnace.
3. Install the new filter
Turn the furnace off again before you insert the new filter. If it's easier, you can also just cut the power to the system. Open the air filter panel, and remove the existing filter. Check for arrows on the new filter frame, which indicate the proper air flow direction. In most cases, this arrow will point the top of the furnace. Follow these guides to insert the filter in the right direction.
Consumer Reports suggests drawing the airflow direction on the outside of the furnace for future reference. Use a permanent marker so it shows up clearly. That way, you'll always know which direction to install the new filter without needing to inspect the dirty one.
Another pro tip to keep in mind: Make a note of the date when you changed the filter, and calculate when the next replacement should be. Set a calendar event on your phone to remind you three months from now.
If you're having trouble with your home heating system even with clean air filters, your HVAC system may need repairs or replacements.
Be prepared with plans from HomeServe as they can help with covered repair costs.