If you’re still using your furnace to keep warm this season, then there is one thing that you should be keeping an eye on: your furnace air filter. It’s a small part, and one that many homeowners don’t even know they have. If you neglect it, though, you’re just begging to have your system run into problems further down the road. Have a look below at what your furnace air filter does, and why it’s so important to make sure that it’s changed on a regular basis.
The ducts in the average home are full of all kinds of things that really shouldn’t be allowed into your furnace. Dust, dirt, pollen, etc. are not only bad for the furnace, but they’re also not the kind of thing you want to be inhaling in large amounts. The filter is there to protect both the furnace and you by capturing these contaminants. The filter is very good at doing this, but it does have one problem: it can’t remove the contaminants that it collects. If the filter isn’t changed often enough, it will eventually become clogged. That’s when the real problems start.
Clogged Filter Issues
A clogged furnace filter will block most of the air in the ducts from entering the furnace while the system is on. This will have a number of effects, first and foremost being that the system won’t be able to heat the home well. Less air flowing into the system means less for the system to distribute. That’s not the biggest issue you have to worry about, though.
Less air entering the furnace also means that the system will have trouble keeping itself cool, as the heat it generates will have nowhere to go. As the temperature in the furnace rises past safe levels, the system will overheat and shut down to prevent further damage. This will happen every time the furnace activates, until the filter is replaced. This behavior, called short cycling, will seriously increase the rate at which the system wears down, causing it to become much more likely to develop issues and shortening its lifespan. This is the main reason why it’s so important for you to make sure that you change the filter every so often.
When and How to Change the Furnace Filter
You can have a professional change your furnace filter if you want to. It’s a pretty standard part of annual maintenance procedures. The filter should be changed every three months or so, though, so unless you want to call a technician out to your home four times a year it’s best that you do it yourself.
Fortunately, changing the filter is pretty easy once you know how to do it. Just make sure you have the proper replacement filter, and then look at your furnace. The filter is located in the air return duct, which is the part at which the ducts meet the furnace. Open the cover in that area, pull out the old filter, and insert the new one. Make sure that the arrows on the rim of the new filter are pointing in the same direction as they were on the old one. That’s it! That’s all you need to do to make sure your system has a clean filter.