Your furnace filter is the one element of your HVAC that keeps your system running smoothly and it plays a massive role in your indoor air quality. Changing your filter is inexpensive, easy to do yourself, and protects the investment you’ve made in your HVAC system. If you are not sure where to find your filter, how often to change it, how to change it, or even which filter to pick for your home in the first place, you’ve come to the right place.
How do furnace air filters work?
Furnace filters are made up of cotton, fiberglass, and other materials stretched across wire mesh, trapping dirt, debris, and other particles in your home’s air as they pass through your ductwork. The filter keeps the particles from getting into your system, potentially damaging it or getting into the air and affecting the indoor air quality. When particles hit the filter, they attach to the screen and cannot continue through the ductwork. Eventually, so many particles build up on the surface of the filter that air can no longer pass through easily. Once you’ve reached that point, that’s when you’ve got a problem.
Which furnace air filter is right for you
There are various types of filters that you will see when shopping around:
- Fiberglass: This is the industry standard for filters. The woven fiberglass material is designed to catch particles but it is considered the most inefficient type of filter. They are inexpensive, however, and are better than no filter at all.
- Pleated: A pleated filter is thicker and therefore will catch more airborne particles. They are more efficient than fiberglass filters but are still on the more inexpensive side.
- HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance): HEPA air filters are often used in buildings that need an especially clean atmosphere like medical facilities, labs, etc. They are very high efficiency and are designed to filter air at a very fine level.
Before purchasing your filter, you’ll need to know the proper size to get and what will do for your family and home needs. Do you have small children, elderly, or someone with breathing issues living in your home? You’ll want to go for a more efficient filter if so. Do you have pets? If so, you’ll also want to consider a higher-efficiency model as pets can have quite an impact on your indoor air quality.
One last step before purchasing your new filter: you’ll need to check the dimensions of your current filter. Look for a slot on the side of your furnace close to the floor. Reach in and carefully pull out the filter. It’s not attached to anything so it’s that easy to find and take out the filter. Once you take it out, look at the cardboard frame and you’ll see dimensions printed there. That will tell you what size you need to buy.
What are the benefits of changing your filter regularly?
Now that you know how to find your air filter and how to best select a new one, you may be wondering what exactly is the benefit that a filter brings to your home. Well, there’s a few…
Filters keep your HVAC system lasting longer
The first thing you will probably notice is decreased air circulation. The surface of the filter will get so clogged up that air can’t pass through properly and you won’t feel nearly as much air coming through the vents.
Then you’ll start to notice your energy bill creeping up. This happens when your system is having to work in overdrive to produce the same amount of work – in this case, air. Those problems can continue to worsen until eventually, your system breaks down because it’s just so tuckered out from working so hard.
Filters keep your home and family healthier
Cleaner air means a happier and healthier home. This is especially important during allergy and flu seasons as the filter helps to ensure that the bacteria in the air aren’t circulated causing more irritation or spread of viruses.
Filters reduce dust and odors
Filters are able to catch dirt and odors before they are able to circulate throughout your home. This is an especially great benefit for homes with pets because pets can carry certain odors that you may not enjoy circulating throughout your home.