11 Simple Methods (Illustrated) for Changing Your Furnace Filter
One of the quickest and easiest ways to maintain a healthy furnace and clean the air in your home is to change the filter regularly.
Before you check or replace your furnace filter, make sure the unit is turned off. Turn the thermostat off if the heater is on. If you do this, the furnace won't turn on while you're inspecting or replacing the filter.
- Turning on a furnace without a filter prevents it from preventing the ingestion of potentially harmful dust and other small particles.
- When in doubt as to how to replace the filter in your furnace, consult the manual that came with it.
Suggestion: See if you need to replace your filter every month. The typical filter designed for disposable use needs to be changed out every two to four weeks. Your filter will become dirty more quickly if you have furry pets or if you frequently use your heating system.
Take off the furnace's access panel by opening it. The door on your heater will either swing out or slide off. You can't get to the inside of your furnace unless you either open it or remove the door. 
- The easiest way to get rid of a sliding door is to lift it up until it releases and then put it somewhere else.
Find your furnace's filter and take off the cover you see above it. Typically, a filter can be found either at the air return duct's opening or at the blower chamber's inlet. In some cases, you'll need to remove an additional cover to gain access to the filter. 
- The furnace's filter can be found in close proximity to the air return duct or the blower chamber's entrance.
Take out the used filter and examine it under a microscope. Lift the filter out with both hands and examine it. Put it up to the light to see how dirty it is, and replace it if necessary. 
- There may be a locking mechanism preventing the filter from sliding out if you encounter any resistance. When you find such a system, you can slide the lock to the side and remove the filter.
If the filter is obstructing your view, you should get a new one. When no light comes through when you hold the filter up to a light, it's time to get a new one. Changing the filter on a regular basis will keep air flowing freely through the furnace and prevent it from overheating. 
- The cardboard support structure of a disposable filter You can clean your filter and reuse it rather than buying a new one if the filter's frame is made of plastic or metal.
Measurements can be found on the filter's cardboard backing. It is expected that the disposable filter's frame will prominently display the filter size. Write it down and bring it with you when you go filter shopping. 
- To ensure you purchase the correct replacement filter, check the owner's manual or measure the old filter with a measuring tape if no dimensions are printed on it.
Get a new filter that fits properly. Find a replacement filter at your local hardware or home improvement store. When replacing an old filter, make sure to get one that is the same size. 
- Fiberglass filters on cardboard frames are the most cost-effective disposable option for heating systems. This type of filter is meant to be replaced every few months as it catches large particles of dust. Better filtration can be had for a modest price increase by purchasing a disposable pleated filter. These filters are more effective at capturing microscopic dust, pollen, and dirt but are not reusable. The lifespan of these filters has been increased from 4 months to an entire year.
Invest in a highly efficient particle air (HEPA) filter if you or a family member suffers from allergies. Antimicrobial and tailored to remove contaminants like mold, mildew, fungi, yeast, and algae, these filters are a must-have. You can buy them once and use them again and again.
Check for an arrow on the filter to determine the correct orientation. There will be an arrow on your new filter indicating the direction of air flow. If you look for the arrow, you'll know which way to insert the filter into the furnace.
- Filters for residential furnaces are designed to work in a unidirectional airflow, keeping them from collapsing under the weight of the dust and debris they collect.
After the filter has been slid into place, its protective cover should be replaced. Position the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the blower motor of the furnace. Place the filter back in its housing and replace the filter cover, if one was removed. 
- Failure to install the filter correctly can cause the furnace to overheat and shut off. This can also occur if your filter is dirty, so check it once a month and swap it out if necessary.
Don't forget to slam the furnace door shut or swap out the panel. Close the furnace's access door by swinging it shut or replacing it if you took it off. It's safe to assume that you have at least another month of use out of your furnace after this. 
- Keep in mind that you will need to change the filter more frequently if you have furry pets or if you frequently use the heating system. Every month, or whenever you see dust gathering in your home, check your filter.
Get the fire going again. After you have changed the filter, turn the thermostat back to the "on" position to reactivate the heating system. The filter will keep the furnace free of dust and other particles, so it can function normally.
- You may want to write down the date you replaced the filter as a gentle reminder to double-check it in a month.
Updated: The date October 12, 2022
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