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HVAC Basics: Why/How to Replace a Furnace Filter

Fall and spring are the best times to replace your HVAC system’s filter, because the demands on your system are significantly higher during the winter and summer months. While things like covering your outside AC unit during the winter and checking your vents help extend the life and efficiency of your HVAC system, the filter is the crucial part that separates an overtaxed system fostering a stale, unhealthy home environment from an efficient system that produces clean heated air without breaking the bank or your good health.

So why is it important to maintain your filter?

Why HVAC Filters are So Important

As mentioned above, dirty filters not only make your system work harder, thus increasing your energy costs, but they also pump unhealthy air into your indoor environment. Any pollutants, such as dander or carbon monoxide, can be pushed through an ineffective filter and right into the air you breathe.

Filters are the first item that outside air encounters before it is heated and moved into the house, so it follows that keeping these clean are a crucial step in reducing your energy costs and improving indoor air quality. Typically, it is recommended by most HVAC system manufacturers to replace this filter every six months, but depending on where you live, it may need to be changed more.

Just be sure to watch your energy bills and check your filters monthly if you’re unsure or working with an older system. Replacing this filter is the easiest way to extend the lifespan of your HVAC system, so be sure to include it in your regular maintenance schedule.

How to Replace Your HVAC Filter

If you have the manual for your system available, be sure to reference it to determine what type of filter you will need. If not, there are still ways to find out. Before diving in, be sure to turn off your HVAC system before performing any maintenance on it.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the system itself. If you have no manual to work with, you can always look at the ductwork to determine where the filter is located. Essentially, all HVAC systems work the same way: they pull in outside air, blown through the aforementioned filter, heated, then distributed throughout the house.

Once you have determined the location of the filter, it’s time to pull it out and inspect it. Is it the correct size? Newer systems may not have this problem, but older HVAC systems may have filters that are cut-to-fit, sometimes poorly. If you’re lucky and have a nicely fitted filter, the dimensions are typically located on the side. If not, it may be time to pull out the tape measure.

A dirty filter will have a large amount of accumulation on its fins, which typically presents itself as lint, and this is the stuff that subsequently finds its way into your indoor environment. Luckily, once the filter is out, it’s pretty easy to replace it. Simply drop the new one into place, making sure that the arrow is pointing in the same direction as airflow.

How FAMCO Can Help

FAMCO is one of the biggest manufacturers of flashing, vents, and dampers in the Pacific Northwest. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your HVAC system this winter, we have a plethora of products to help keep you and your family warm, including furnace filter racks and more. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to help.

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