Your furnace has a dedicated filter, which is usually located in a slot on the site of the furnace’s cabinet where the return air duct connects to the blower. You can easily remove the filter from its slot and replace it. In fact, you need to do this on a regular basis during times when the furnace runs routinely.
People are often confused about the purpose of this filter. They assume that the filter does the job of helping to clean a home’s air. Although it does remove particles that come through the return air ducts, this doesn’t have a major impact on the indoor air quality; for true IAQ improvement, a home needs special dedicated filters. What the furnace filter does is protect the interior of the furnace and the air handler from dust and debris. It takes from one to three months for enough material to build up in the filter to the point that it needs to be changed for a clean one.
Why Filter Changes Are Necessary
Leaving a clogged air filter in place is the cause of numerous problems for furnaces, from poor efficiency to the need to call for furnace repair in Akron, OH. Below is a list of only some of the troubles that a clogged filter can create for a furnace and for a home:
- Reduced airflow: The blower fan cannot pull enough air through the filter and into the furnace to create decent airflow through the rest of the ventilation system. This will result in a drop in airflow from the room vents, lowering comfort.
- Dust and debris infiltration: A clogged air filter cannot manage its basic job—protecting the interior of the furnace—because it will begin to bend and distort from the force the blower places on it. Dust and debris will slip around the edges of the filter and infiltrate the furnace, where they can damage motors, block burners, and do other damage.
- Energy waste: The most immediate effect of a congested air filter is that it will force the blower fan to work harder. The furnace’s energy efficiency will begin to decrease, and you’ll see this reflected in your monthly energy bills.
- Tripped circuit: The extra strain placed on the blower can cause its motor to overheat and trip the circuit breaker to the furnace, causing the entire system to shut down. If the furnace ever trips the breaker, always check on the filter to see if it’s clogged.
- Short-cycling: This is when the furnace shuts down before completing a full heating cycle, then turns back on again a short time later. A clogged filter can cause this to start happening because it can trap too much heat inside the furnace.
The frequency that you change the filter will depend on the type. Basic panel filters usually last for a month, while stronger pleated filters can last up to three months. Check the filter each month to see how congested it is, and you’ll soon learn a good schedule for putting in a clean filter.
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