The Ins and Outs of Changing Your Furnace Air Filter

Dirty furnace filters or super thick filters not only increase furnace wear and tear, but also fail to keep dust and allergens from circulating through your home. Changing filters every three months is the rule, however, during a typical Kansas City winter, filters may need changing more often since the furnace is running for longer periods of time.

Know Your Air Filter Type

One-inch filters are the norm. However, many people are using the thicker, pleated filters like the 3M ultra-allergen version which offer the most health benefits. They also have limitations. They require changing more often because they get dirty quicker, causing your furnace to work harder to push air through. Regardless, health benefits should outweigh functional limitations when it comes to the air you and your family breath.

Another option for trapping dust and allergens is investing in a four-inch filter. Lennox offers a hospital grade, four-inch filter that catches bacteria and viruses. They can be pricey, but worth the cost if you have certain health issues that are worsened by dust and allergens. Installing a four-inch filter requires our residential heating technicians to reconfigure your filter slot to accommodate the larger size and add a door to enclose the filter. It’s a pretty quick and simple process.

Be sure you know what type of filter your particular unit uses. With hundreds of different filters on the market, there are tons of filter replacement options available. Ordering the wrong filter is a waste of time and will only land you in trouble with your heating unit.

A Right Way and a Wrong Way To Change an Air Filter

When it comes to changing air filters in furnaces, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to install them. An improperly installed filter causes the unit to work harder than usual. When a machine is overworked, it will decrease its lifespan. Efficiency drops and the unit will end up spiking your energy bills.

Be sure to install the filter with the porous side facing out. Without this tiny detail, the filter will just be blocking the space where the furnace delivers air. Learning how to replace a furnace filter can save you money over time, so take the time to read your operator’s manual. If you can’t find it, do a Google search for your make and model and see if someone in cyberspace has a copy.

Follow the Arrows 

Most filters have indicator marks pointing the way, but some do not. Open the package and take a hard look at the filter to see if there are indicator marks to guide you during installation. These marks will show you how to replace your furnace filter in just a few steps, making things so much easier. Ignoring the arrows can lead to a heating disaster.

How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Furnace Filter?

Each household needs their own schedule for changing an air filter in a furnace. This can depend on several factors.

  • Do you have pets? Pet hair and dander floating through the air clogs filters faster. If you have a pet, consider changing the filter more often to keep the stress off your heating unit. You should change a one or two-inch filter every month. Four and five-inch filters should be every three months. Don’t forget - the more animals, the more hair clogging the filter.
  • Is the system always on? If your furnace is constantly running, you may need to change the filter more often. The more it runs, the more it sucks in air and the more the filter catches debris. In the cold winter months when the furnace is running non-stop, it might be appropriate to change the filters once a month, but when warmer weather hits you might not need to change it as frequently.
  • Does anyone smoke? If anyone in the house smokes, it can damage the filter, causing it to need changing more often. You should change one to two-inch filters monthly. Four and five-inch filters need changing every two and three months, respectively. With more people smoking in the house, the filter may need changing even more frequently.
  • Do you leave your windows open? Fresh air is great, but it also brings in a lot of dust, dirt and allergens that travel through the filter in your furnace. The more you keep the windows open (or doors), the more you’ll need to change the filter. This can also change based on where you live. Areas with a lot of environmental pollution may need to change the filter more often than areas in the woods, although debris from trees and pollen can become stuck in your air filter as well. Monitor the situation and see what the best fit is for your home.

If you need a more hands-on approach, schedule an appointment today and we can show you how to replace furnace filter.