Your furnace filter operates much like the air filter in your car, catching dirt and debris. And when the filter gets clogged, it’s time for a new one, because a full filter causes your heating system to work harder and burn up more energy. In the worst cases, a dirty filter can lead to expensive repairs and even system failure.
It pays, then, to check your furnace filter every month, though you may need wait longer than that to replace it. Start by getting out your furnace’s owner’s manual. This handy booklet, with its detailed diagrams, will literally serve as your furnace road map.
Before you get started, make sure you have a replacement filter on hand. If you don’t, write down the existing filter’s model number and purchase one at a home improvement store. Better yet, purchase two filters so you always have an extra on hand, especially for those months when your furnace is working frequently.
The next step is to turn off the electrical power to your furnace. Then locate the filter, usually in the blower compartment, in an attached filter case or in a wall-mounted return air grille. Remove the grille or open the panel door. You can usually do this with your hands alone, without tools. Once open, you should see the filter â€“ a mesh screen that is installed either horizontally or vertically.
Remove the filter and inspect it for dirt by holding it up to sunlight or by shining a flashlight behind it. If you can’t see through it, it’s time for a new one. Once replaced, slide it in and close the grille or panel door.
If furnace filter replacement isn’t one of your favorite tasks, consider purchasing an air filter change indicator. Mounted on the side of the air handler, the device includes a needle that swings from a scale of “filter is clean” to “change the filter.” It eliminates the guesswork of when to change your furnace filter.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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