How to Find Your Furnace and Change Your Furnace Filter

Many homeowners don’t know a lot about their HVAC system, such as where key equipment like the furnace is located. If you don’t know where the furnace is, you can’t handle routine furnace maintenance tasks like checking the furnace air filter. This and other simple chores can enhance your furnace’s energy efficiency. It’ll also help lower the risk of damage or a malfunction. 

Where Is My Furnace? 

Most furnaces are kept in the center of your home, either in a special utility closet or downstairs in the basement. If your home doesn’t have a basement, it can also be in a crawl space or the attic. You may find other equipment like the water heater or your washing machine in the same area. 

Once you’ve found where your furnace is, the next step is to find the furnace filter. 

Where Is My Furnace Filter Located? 

You’ll usually find the air filter in the blower compartment, which is accessible through a metal door or hatch on the lower half of the furnace. It can also be in a sliding compartment by the air handler component of your furnace or on a rack placed on the furnace’s side. It will be located somewhere where it can collect dust, pollen and other airborne particles as they pass through your HVAC system. 

Over time, the furnace filter accumulates more and more particles. At a certain point it will restrict airflow and may affect your home’s indoor air quality as well as your HVAC system’s total efficiency. By periodically cleaning or replacing the filter, you’ll keep everything working more effectively. 

How Do I Change the Air Filter in My Furnace? 

Thankfully, you don’t need tons of HVAC experience to know how to change a furnace filter. In fact, it’s one of the easiest tasks you can do to help draw out the best performance from your HVAC system. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start: 

  • Make sure you check the filter’s size so the replacement air filter matches. 
  • Turn the furnace’s power off before you access the air filter. 
  • Slowly pull the filter out so the housing isn’t damaged or knocked out of place. 
  • Finally, check the new filter for an arrow illiustrating how the filter should be oriented before installing it into your furnace. 

Should I Change My Furnace Filter Every Month? 

Ultimately, knowing how often to change your furnace filter depends on several things. Start with the model of the filter itself, as more efficient filters should last longer. You’ll also want to consider your indoor air quality needs, the size of your family and number of pets as well as local pollution levels. 

Basic filters suggest replacement every 1-2 months, or as short as 20-45 days each if you have several pets and someone in the house has allergies. 

Does It Matter What Furnace Filter You Use? 

The quality of your furnace filter may have a big impact on your HVAC system’s overall efficiency as well as your home’s indoor air quality. The ideal way to check the quality of your furnace filter is its MERV rating. This stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and represents the filter’s effectiveness at reducing the number of airborne particles in your home. 

The [bigger|higher} the MERV rating, the better the filter will be. Ratings can be on a scale of 1-20, but this doesn’t mean you should try to find a furnace filter with a 20 MERV rating. In fact, many filters with ratings above 13 are often designed for hospitals or other buildings that rely on the safest, most hygienic conditions possible. 

What Happens if I Forget to Change My Furnace Filter? 

Neglecting to replace your furnace filter isn’t the end of the world, but it can negatively affect how effective your HVAC system is. Furnaces need unobstructed airflow for efficient heating, and a dirty filter can slow that down. The longer you go without replacing it, however, the more likely problems can crop up that will require furnace repair. Here are a few of the most common: 

  • The furnace overheats: Without proper airflow, the temperature in your furnace can steadily increase. Safety components should shut off the furnace when it detects overheating, but this could keep happening until the filter is replaced. 
  • Your HVAC system starts short cycling: Short cycling is when your equipment starts and stops too frequently. This adds more wear and tear, which shortens your system’s life span. 
  • The air conditioner’s cooling coil freezes: The air conditioner also needs steady airflow. Without it, the refrigerant coils can get too cold and freeze over. 
  • Your HVAC system stops working: When your HVAC system runs too long without proper airflow, it could lead to a piece of equipment failing entirely. 

Is No Air Filter Better Than a Dirty One? 

Definitely not! Your furnace filter is still a crucial component for getting the most out of your HVAC system. You should always have a filter in place, even if you forget to replace it every now and then. A certified service company like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you keep up with routine furnace maintenance in the U.S. including replacing the air filter. 

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