Changing Your Furnace / HVAC Filter Regularly
Check your furnace / HVAC filter monthly, and replace it at least once every 3 months!
By Frank Lundeen - 218 Inspect Home Inspections
Owning a home comes with responsibility, and part of this responsibility is in the form of maintaining your home. There are some maintenance tasks, that if left deferred can lead to inefficiencies & things being overworked - which can lead to expensive & dangerous problems. One of the most important regular maintenance items in any house with a forced air furnace or central air conditioning (HVAC Unit) is checking & replacing the HVAC filter on a regular basis!
The HVAC filter can usually be found on cold air return side of the furnace. This is usually a large metal duct which brings air from around the home back to the furnace - to be heated or cooled by the HVAC unit. The filter's job is to remove contaminants in this air (such as dust, pet hair, or allergens) prior to passing through the HVAC unit and being blown back into your home's living space. A dirty filter restricts air flow making the HVAC unit work harder, increasing your energy costs, and can eventually cause costly HVAC break downs (both costly and leaving your house cold or hot, depending on the time of year). If a HVAC unit breaks down in the Winter months, a home will rapidly cool down and can lead to catastrophic plumbing pipe freezing issues - which can cause your home to flood!
The lesson learned here is to learn where your HVAC filter is located, inspect it monthly, and replace it if there is visible dust/debris on it's surface - replacing it at least every 3 months. I recommend putting a reminder on your calendar for certain home maintenance items like this - to ensure that you don't forget to properly care for your home!
To change your HVAC filter, I recommend following the below procedure:
Consult your HVAC unit's manual - always following the manufacturer's directions and maintenance schedule.
Turn off the HVAC unit prior to removing the filter.
Make certain that you have the correctly sized filter. Note that HVAC filters come in many different sizes, and there is likely an entire aisle at your favorite home improvement store dedicated to HVAC filters!
Note that some filters have a front and back side - which should align with the direction the air is passing through the HVAC filter.
Slide the new filter back into place, and replace any covers or hatch doors.
Turn the HVAC unit back on and observe to make certain everything is functioning appropriately.
Call a furnace technician if there are any unusual noises or the HVAC unit doesn't heat / cool as appropriate.
Also note that it's critical to have your HVAC unit (furnace & air conditioner) serviced annually. Here in the Northland, I usually recommend having this done in the Fall before the Winter heating season.
In summary, changing your HVAC unit filter & having it serviced annually will help to keep your home comfortable, reduce energy consumption, and help your HVAC unit provide you decades of reliable service!
This image shows the air flow path in a home heated or cooled with a HVAC unit. The air filter is typically located at the cold air return entrance to the HVAC unit / air handler / furnace.