The furnace filter provides a valuable service of removing particles from the air before sending the warmth out throughout your home. The filters need to be checked and changed periodically and the process should be easy enough for those new to do-it-yourself furnace repair. But, there are some details in that process that can ensure you end up with the most efficient furnace filter possible.
Checking the Filter
How often you check the filter depends on the type of furnace and filter. Consult your owner's manual for detailed instructions. Once a month is usually sufficient for most makes and models.
Consult that owner's manual again on exactly how you access the filter for checking. Remove the filter and look through the filter screen, holding the screen up in natural light. You should be able to see through the screen.
If the filter is reusable and there's only minor buildup, you might be able to get away with simply vacuuming the filter clean and then placing it back in the furnace. But heavy buildups, even on reusable filters, necessitate buying a new filter to be on the safe side.
Finding the Best Replacement
Furnace filters are labeled with a number representing the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV. This basically represents the percentage of contaminant particles the filter can take out of the air. The scale starts at 1, which is the lowest efficiency, and goes up to 16. More efficient filters are also going to cost more, so that should be a factor in your decision.
Buying a replacement filter isn't as simple as buying the one with the highest MERV. Consult your manufacturer's guide for the suggested MERV range for your furnace unit.
You should also check to see whether your original filter was fiberglass. If it is, you either need to go with another fiberglass filter or you'll need to consult an HVAC technician. Changing filter types can potentially cause problems with your furnace's ability to function properly.
Replacing the Filter
Once you feel confident you have the right filter for your furnace, it's time to replace the filter. This should essentially work the same way as checking the filter did only this time you'll put in the new filter.
If the furnace doesn't seem to work as well after your fix, call an HVAC technician, like those at Long Beach Heating & Air Conditioning Inc, to check that you didn't make a mistake. Your furnace could've also developed an unrelated problem that should be fixed sooner rather than later.
If you don't feel comfortable even performing the filter change, you can call an HVAC technician immediately and save yourself some effort.