Before switching your home from heating to cooling this Spring, be sure to change your furnace filter. While the furnace is primarily used during colder months, it’s a good idea to change the filter so it’s ready to use next winter.
The Function of the Air Filter
Usually, the filter is a simple fiberglass matting. Commonly known as throw-away filters, they are made to remove some airborne particles such as hair, dust and other pollutants. High-quality furnace filters will keep more particles away from the motor. Other components are protected as well, while improving air quality to a greater extent. The relentless dust, pollen and other air contaminates may otherwise get through to the motor and output vents. These impurities will eventually lower air quality and clog the motor, which will stop operating overtime. The inefficiency of the process could result in colder air.
Checking the Filter
Furnace filters are made to fit various furnace units. There are no one-size-fits-all filters. Although checking the filter once every three months is recommended, once a month is a better approach to protect the furnace. If the filter appears dark and dirty, it will need replacing to allow the best performance from the unit. When filters are not changed regularly, because congested units will run inefficiently, they could result in higher utility and repair costs.
MERV and FPM Rating Systems
The quality rating system is also known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). It is used to rate an air filter for the unit. Generally, the higher value will give better resistance and performance.
The air flow feet-per-minute (FPM) is a measurement of how fast the air is flowing through the furnace system. This rating usually affects the filter’s performance as well. Basically, the consumer does not have the ability to measure FPM. A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company will be able to correctly determine the FPM rating. Where members of the household suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, a higher MERV value may help the solution.
How to Replace a Furnace Filter
Although there are disposable furnace filters, some can simply be washed and replaced. Consumers should not use their bare hands to handle fiberglass filters. This should be done wearing quality gloves and a mask that resists this material because it can break while handling. This can cause itching, swelling and other irritations to develop in the respiratory system. To change the filter:
- Turn off the power from the breaker box.
- Remove the covering from the blower unit.
- Determine the filter’s location. Some filters are located in the return air side, while others are situated in the blower compartment. Usually, access to the filter is through the blower compartment.
- Carefully remove the filter(s).
- Replace the filter(s) with the same care. When replacing the filter, ensure that it is inserted all the way so that the safety switch will be engaged. Otherwise, the unit will not work.
- Replace the covering.
- Turn the power back on.
Replacing the furnace airflow filter will have many benefits such as cleaner inside air, a more efficiently operating motor and lower utility and repair costs. Sometimes, the project may be difficult due to a lack of proper handling. Other times, changing a furnace filter can be easy. Even though the consumer would have done his or her best in troubleshooting the situation, it may become necessary to call for help. An HVAC company will have the professionalism, knowledge and experience to handle the job more effectively.