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Tips for How Often to Change the Furnace Filter

man-holding-furnace-filterWhen heating season starts (a.k.a. “winter”), your home’s furnace will get down to steady work. That means you’ll have the semi-regular job of keeping an eye on it. This isn’t an intense job, only a reminder to keep your senses open to any of the signs the furnace is in trouble—and to remember to change the furnace filter on a regular schedule.

But what is that schedule? You may often hear advice to “change the furnace filter regularly” through the winter, but instead of a definite schedule you’re given a range of months. Which one is right? Is there a solid answer for how often to change the filter?

Simple Tricks and Tips for Being a Filter-Changing Guru

No, there is no definite, etched-in-stone timeline for changing the filter. Each home is different, runs furnaces at different frequencies, and has different types of filters in place. What works for one may not work for another.

The good news is that you can find out what works for your furnace with only a bit of work.

First things first: Do you know where the filter is located? An easy way to find out is to ask your technician during fall maintenance, since changing the filter is one of the standard steps they take. But it’s not difficult to find. For most furnaces, the filter is in a slot at the point where the return air duct connects to the HVAC cabinet at the blower. This is usually at the bottom of the HVAC cabinet. You’ll see a slot and the side the filter, and it’s easy to slide the filter out. If you cannot find the filter in that place, go inside the house and locate the return air vent. Unscrew the register from the vent, and the filter will be set in place behind it.

Now that you know where the filter is, make a habit of checking on it each month to see how much dust, lint, and other debris is caught in it. To judge how clogged-up the filter is, we recommend you hold it up to the light. If the filter blocks out the light, it’s too congested and needs to be replaced with a new one.

If you have a simple panel filter, you may find the filter clogged after only a month. This is common for these basic filters, and you should put the filter change on a monthly schedule. More powerful filters, such as pleated filters and media filters, may take 2 to 4 months before they clog up. Note how many months have passed and make that the schedule for the filter change.

What Type of Filters to Use

The furnace manual has a recommendation for the right filter for the unit, or you can simply buy the same kind you had before. Be cautious about purchasing a filter more powerful than the recommended one (a filter with a higher MERV rating), since it may harm the efficiency of the furnace.

If you need professional assistance, call our friendly technicians at your local Burlington, VT HVAC company.

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Schedule heating services with our team today.

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