Checking Your Furnace Filter: Regularity Counts A Lot

If you have a problem with your furnace and call for service, checking your furnace filter is one of the very first things the HVAC technician will do. That’s because a furnace filter affects airflow, the lifeblood of your heating system and the source of any number of malfunctions if it’s restricted. Insufficient airflow can send your heating bill through the roof as the furnace runs overtime trying to push enough hot air into the house to meet the thermostat setting. It can also damage heating components and even degrade interior air quality. Checking your furnace filter and changing it regularly are the single most important DIY maintenance procedures a homeowner can perform on the heating system.

Here are some guidelines about furnace filter replacement:

  • Furnace filters are rated according to the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) number, ranging from 1-16. The higher the MERV, the more efficient the filter.
  • Standard fiberglass filters on the low end of the MERV scale will save you money, but are generally ineffective at removing anything other than the largest inorganic dust particles from the air. Other contaminants such as mold, pollen and microorganisms like bacteria escape the filtering process.
  • Beginning at MERV 8, higher efficiency filters made of pleated, electrostatically charged microfibers remove over 80 percent of the smallest airborne particulates, including most allergens.  In households with individuals who are particularly sensitive, filters up to MERV 12 can be installed without making system alterations.
  • Because higher efficiency filters remove more particulates, a higher standard of maintenance is required. Checking your furnace filter monthly becomes more important to avoid airflow restriction.

During heating season, change the filter as required. If the filter is located in the furnace, turn off the furnace at the thermostat. Open the service door on the front or side of the furnace. Slide out the filter and slide the replacement filter in with the directional arrow printed on it pointing into the furnace. Close the access door.   The filter may be located in other areas such as a filter grill or an add-on piece to the furnace itself.  Always use safety precautions when changing the filter.

For more than 50 years, Amarillo Air Conditioning has helped homeowners solve indoor comfort problems. Ask us about checking your furnace filter to keep your system effective and efficient.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Amarillo, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about checking your furnace filter and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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