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Furnace Filter Maintenance

Proper furnace filter maintenance is important year around, but it’s especially important during those hot summer days and the colder winter months. Keeping up on changing your furnace filter on a regular basis is the easiest thing you can do to ensure proper and efficient operation. A dirty or clogged air filter will slow down airflow, meaning your furnace is forced to work harder, which increases your energy bills and wastes energy.

How often should you change your filter?

You’ve probably heard that you should change your filter once a month, which is a good rule of thumb, but it also depends on a number of different factors. What type of filter do you use? What are the HVAC manufacturer’s recommendations? What time of year is it? Do you have pets? Does anyone smoke inside? A lot can affect the longevity of your furnace filter, so checking your filter at least once a month is a good way to ensure your furnace is running efficiently. If it’s dark and clogged, go ahead and replace it.

Many manufacturers recommend changing your filter once a month, and we do too. It’s the best way to keep your furnace running in tip-top shape. Some manufacturers recommend once every 3 months. Even so, we would still recommend at least checking once a month, since some months can be worse than others.

How to change your furnace filter

Changing your furnace filter is simple, just follow these few easy steps:

  1. Turn the furnace off: There’s usually a switch located somewhere on your furnace to turn it on and off. Never replace your filter with your furnace turned on.

  2. Locate your filter: Usually, the filter is just inside the furnace or just inside the air vent. Refer to your HVAC manufacturer’s manual if needed.

  3. Note the direction of air flow: Before removing the filter, make sure you not which direction the air flows so you can replace the filter in the correct direction

  4. Remove the filter: No tools are required, you can simply grab the filter with your hand and slide it out of place

  5. Replace/clean the filter: Check to see whether your filter is reusable or needs to be replaced. In most cases, a plastic frame is a reusable filter and a cardboard frame is a disposable filter. If it’s a reusable filter, you can clean the dust off with water, but make sure it’s fully dry before placing back inside the furnace.If you’re replacing the filter, make sure you have the correct size. Check your old filter, it will list the size and you can use this as a reference when buying a new filter.

  6. Put the filter/replacement filter back into place: It should easily slide back into place. Make sure the filter is facing the correct direction.

  7. Keep a record: Write down when you changed your filter. Check your filter once a month and replace if needed.

A Few Quick Tips

  • Remove covers from the furnace and vacuum the blower and burner compartments once a year to keep dust from building up.

  • Keep the condenser clear of any grass clippings, leaves, debri, etc.

  • Keep the return air registers clean and don't block them with furnishings. You should have at least 3" clearance.

  • If your thermostat or furnace are showing error messages, check your furnace filter and thermostat batteries before calling a repairman. We have been told by our HVAC professionals that bad thermostat batteries and dirty furnace filters are the two most common problems they're called out for. These are simple fixes that any homeowner can do and will help you save on the expense of having a professional come out.

  • We recommend buying 12 filters at once, one for each month so you can easily replace your filter throughout the year. We like to write each month on a filter pad (January on one, February on the next, and so on), that way it’s easier to track if you’re keeping up on the maintenance. Another option is to buy your filters online and have them shipped to your home. There are a number of different websites that will automatically send a filter to your home once a month (or however often you request them) making it easy to remember to replace your filter.


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